Have you noticed I gravitate to recipes and ingredients with crazy, quirky, exotic-sounding names?
Think Mulligatawny, Jambalaya, Paprikash, Chimichurri, Lumanche, Caponata, Speculoos, Za'atar... Good words. Fun recipes. Happy guests.
I’ve always been a bit of a word geek – I spent my childhood wandering around the world with my nose in a book, and that hasn’t changed all that much decades later. I never met a crossword puzzle I didn’t love (though admittedly I’ve been humbled by quite a few.)
When I discovered Fugazetta, I found another love-at-first-sight word. But I really fell for this wonderful dish. Fugazetta is a century-old Argentine pizza. The dough should be quite thick and bready – in fact, more like focaccia. Topped with a shocking amount of provolone cheese, finely shredded raw onions, green olives, and dusted with a bit of oregano and red pepper flakes, it is a wondrous creation.
I did a bit of research about this dish on the intriguing blog The Real Argentina. Daniel Nelson shares his take on the best pizza to be found in Buenos Aires. He reports in 1893 Don Augustin Banchero arrived in Buenos Aires from Genoa and opened one of the country’s first pizzerias. The Banchero family, who now have four branches, claim to have invented the fugazza con queso, and this cheese and onion pizza has since practically become part of the Argentinian staple diet. It has actually been listed as a food of "patrimonial value" by the Argentine Parliament.
We tweaked the traditional version at House Morell… it should feature raw onions, but honestly, I don’t love raw onions. I much prefer the sweetness of caramelized onions … I find they are worth the effort. Of course, if you are short on time and would prefer to be more authentic, be my guest. I thought four cups of provolone cheese was enough… you are welcome to use more – some of the photos I came across looked like they used double that. We also like our pizza crust a bit thinner… so I cut a my focaccia recipe in half… so the crust still has a bread-like quality, but is thinner.
This evening, I’m serving the fugazetta as a hearty starter for a South American-themed dinner, but really, it could be a meal. It probably should be a meal.
I’m off on a quest for my next dish-with-a-quirky-name… what should it be? Aloo Pies? Tartiflette? Gado Gado? So many possibilities…
Special thanks to Sydney Combs, photographer extraordinaire, who shot the photos for this blog post – and gave me a dozen helpful tips in less than 20 minutes.
Fugazetta - (Argentine Pizza)
The pizza dough is adapted from focaccia recipe from Tyler Florence on the Food Network
Serves: 8-10 as a starter, 4 as a main course
The pizza dough:
- 1 teaspoons rapid-rising dry yeast
- ½ cup warm water
- 1 tablespoons sugar
- 1¾ to 2 cups flour
- ½ tablespoon coarse salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- extra olive oil, for brushing on the crust
- (Or you can use a good-quality store-bought crust.)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 onions, halved and sliced very thin
- 4 cups of shredded provolone cheese (or mozzarella, if you prefer)
- ¾ cup green olives, chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- red pepper flakes, to taste
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, proof the yeast by combining it with the warm water and sugar. Stir gently to dissolve. Let stand 3 minutes until foam appears. Turn mixer on low and slowly add the flour to the bowl. Dissolve salt in 1 tablespoons of warm water and add it to the mixture. Pour in the olive oil. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium. Stop the machine periodically to scrape the dough off the hook. Mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary.
- Turn the dough out onto a work surface and fold over itself a few times. Form the dough into a round and place in an oiled bowl, turn to coat the entire ball with oil so it doesn’t form a skin. Cover with plastic wrap or damp towel and let rise over a gas pilot light on the stovetop or other warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
- Coat a sheet pan with a little olive oil and corn meal. Once the dough is doubled and domed, turn it out onto the counter. Roll and stretch the dough out to an oblong shape about ¼-inch thick. Lay the flattened dough on the pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, coat a small saute pan with olive oil, add the onions, and cook over low heat for 30-45 minutes until the onions are deep brown and caramelized. Add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper, then cook for another few minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Uncover the dough. Brush the crust with a bit of olive oil, then Scatter the provolone cheese, caramelized onions, olives, oregano and red pepper flakes over he surface of the dough. Bake on the bottom rack for 10 to 15 minutes.