Editor's note: Carey spent last week in Italy thanks to the region of Molise and the Gruppo Ristoratori Italiani.
Roman-style pizza bianca is rich and spongy with olive oil, part of what makes it so irresistible. But what could make it better? I didn't know until I visited Abruzzo, where the answer became clear: pig bits and pig fat, baked right in.
Their pizza di sfrigole dates from a time when anyone cooking made their own lard, which leaves behind super-crisp meat bits as the fat renders. From there, you've got two elements of a mighty fine pizza. It's nothing more than lard, flour, and salt kneaded together extensively, then incorporating those luscious little pig bits (or sfrigole) before it's baked.
Though different in composition, of course, it's not that far off from prosciutto bread, where the actual meat is apparent but the added animal fat's richness is what really makes it exceptional.
The result is super-flaky and almost pastrylike, which makes sense when you consider how lard is so often used in pie crusts and such. This one, sampled from the terrace at Sei Stelle bed and breakfast in Sulmona, was served at room temperature but stayed both crunchy-edged and chewy, certainly piggy in flavor but not aggressively so. You notice the crisp meat bits but it's not immediately apparent that even more pig fat is backing that up. Until you start wondering "Why on earth is this so rich?" and, well, lard is your answer...