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Home Slice: Making Spaghetti Pizza
Last week Kenji wrote about the spaghetti-topped pizza at Farina's in Grapevine, Texas. He made a pretty good case for the stuff and then baited me to try to Home Slice up a version of it. Baiters gonna bait.
I'm not going to beat around the bush: The Farina's version (above) looks* way better than mine and probably tastes better and eats better, too. Theirs uses a bar pie-style crust. Mine sits atop a New Yorkish-type foundation. Theirs looks like a big ol' plate of spaghetti. Mine takes a lighter hand with the sauce. Theirs comes with meatballs as an option. Mine ... I'll just admit it. I was too lazy to make meatballs. I would much rather eat the Farina's pizzspaghetti pie than mine, but I've gotta say that the junk I pulled out of my oven had its moments.
* And not just because I'm colorblind and can't color-correct a photo taken under fluorescent light to save my life.
Yes, I'm using jarred sauce. From-Scratchers, I don't want to hear from you. With Baby Slice at home interrupting any process that takes longer than 10 minutes, I welcomed the shortcut. In fact, Kenji didn't have to bait me too hard with this one because the minute I thought of how I'd go about it, I knew I could just dump sauce into a bowl of cooked spaghetti and then dump that in turn on a pizza shell.
Lesson No. 1: Use 4 ounces of uncooked spaghetti per each 12-inch pizza. Circumstances dictated this portioning—I had four balls of dough and 1 pound of spaghetti—but it turned out to be the perfect amount. Enough noodles to look, taste, and feel right but not too much that they were going all over the place.
I cooked only 8 ounces of spaghetti at a time, though. I didn't want it to sit around and grow rubbery as I made pizza.
Lesson No. 2: I took Fredipus's advice and undercooked my noodles by 2 minutes. Then I dumped a little more than half the jar of Rao's Tomato Basil sauce on it, mixed it all up quickly, and topped a stretched dough with half the mixture:
For this first pizza, I poured on some of the extra sauce I reserved in the jar. And I grated regular mozzarella directly onto the pizza:
My first pizza was disappointing:
And not just because of the lackluster crust. I used a same-day dough. Yes, pizza nerds, I know, I know. It doesn't taste great and it doesn't brown as nicely as a more fermented dough would, but I was more interested in this as a proof of concept of the topping.
In the pizza above, there's too much sauce, and the spaghetti wriggles everywhere in the sauce and melted cheese when you try to pick up a slice.
But for the second and final pizza of the night, I hit upon an idea. What would happen if I added some cheese below the noodles? AND if I sliced the cheese instead of grated it?
My reasoning was that the larger hunks of cheese would melt a little more slowly, becoming stretchy but not almost liquefied. And having hunks of cheese above and below the pasta would "anchor" it.
For this pie, too, I used only the sauce that was in the bowl of noodles—no additional pour. I didn't want the pie to get too soupy.
This one was more successful. The cheese worked exactly as I predicted, and thus was born Lesson No. 3: sliced mozzarella above and below the spaghetti holds it in place despite the fact that more of the noodles look untethered. In fact, where the noodles look naked, cheese is holding them on from below.
My one complaint about Pie No. 2, though, was that it wasn't saucy enough. For future versions, I think what I'd do would be to build a pizza as Pie No. 2 but then use a squeeze bottle to add just a zig-zag or two of extra sauce—enough to lend some juiciness to the pizza but not so much as to sog-bog it down.
Here's the cutaway to show the hole structure of the crust. You can see how some of the pasta charred a bit. It needs a little more char. I like mfrapp's idea of finishing it under the broiler. I may try that next time.