First there was his no-knead bread, and it’s not just me, given the fact that nearly two years later, not a week goes by when I do see a food blog creatively hatching a new, delicious adaptation of it. It continued in the the back of the cab a few months ago, where he so deftly showed off his Pizza Bianca for the cameras, it took restraint not to ask the driver to turn around and take me to the Sullivan Street Bakery, stat.
Once my hunt for his written recipe began I unearthed all sorts of additional goodies, including the fact that he was opening a pizza place> in MY neighborhood (still plywooded after all of these months, I wait and sigh…) and that he wishes to throw down the tomato-and-mozzarella hegemony in U.S. pizza, as tomatoes are not even indigenous to Italy, replacing it with what NYMag described as a “frilly radicchio number with red onion, chiles, and three cheeses that looks like a nest built by a slightly deranged bird,” and a seasonal zucchini blossom one and I’m sorry, what was I talking about again? Can’t talk, drooling…
Right, so among all of the things I learned while
stalking learning all that I could about Jim Lahey, there was one that, had it a soundtrack, it would have been that of a needle being torn across a record or a harried reporter yelling “Stop the presses!”–Jim Lahey’s Potato Pizza.
Problem was, I found this recipe only a day before we went on vacation, and there was no possible way to squeeze it in that short span of time otherwise devoted to packing and errands. I briefly considered canceling vacation, until Alex once again talked me down from my Crazy Ledge, temporarily at least. Shortly after we returned, however, I made the most auspicious discovery: the Whole Foods by us was now selling slices Jim Lahey’s Pizza Bianca. Just like that! There before my very eyes! The whole time!
We brought some home and popped it in the oven until toasty and oh, people. It is just heaven on a piece flatbread. It could be the glint in the Mona Lisa’s eye. I know why birds sing… And it was clearly time to make my own.
Unfortunately, the recipe I’d found on Martha Stewart’s site is riddled with errors. The water level would make batter, not dough. It doesn’t mention the second bread rise. It seems to think that there is just one tablespoon of chopped onion on more than two feet of pizza, something my many sample slices have clearly shown otherwise. And, it seems to think that you can bake a 1/2-inch thick pizza at 440 degrees for 30 minutes and remove anything other than a burnt cracker.
With all of these adjustments–some I figured out as I went along–we did enjoy the results, especially with a sharp arugula salad on the side, but it just did not live up to the original [not that it could, what with the bird singing and Mona Lisa smiling]. It might take some more tweaking to get it right. What a bummer, huh? More potato pizza. Life is so unfair.
Jim Lahey’s Potato Pizza
Makes two 8-inch pizzas or one 14-inch pizza
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1 cup cold water
Olive oil, for bowl and pans
1 teaspoon instant dry yeast
2 potatoes, thinly sliced (about 2 cups) [I used Yukon Golds, and I believe this is what Lahey uses as well]
1/2 onion, diced into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh rosemary (optional)
1. Combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer, and slowly add 1 cup cold water. Mix on low speed until ingredients begin to combine. Switch to a dough hook and continue to mix for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic and cleanly pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl.
2. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and allow to rest for 2 to 4 hours until it has doubled in size. Split the dough into halves, and form each into a log. Place each log on a generously floured surface, and allow it to rest until the formed dough doubles in size again, at least 1 hour.
3. While the dough rises for the second time, repare the potato topping. Slice potatoes very thin using a knife or a mandoline. Then soak them in several changes of ice water to remove excess starch and prevent discoloration. Drain slices in a colander, toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and set aside for 10 minutes. Drain any accumulated water. In a medium bowl, combine potatoes, onions, and 1 tablespoon olive oil, and set aside.
4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare two rimmed baking sheets with vegetable oil. Divide dough in half. Place each piece on its own baking sheet. Using the palms of your hands, flatten dough out to the edges of the pan. Evenly spread potatoes over the surface of the dough up to the very edge, or about 1 inch from the edge if you desire a crust on your pizza. Season with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with rosemary if using.
5. Bake potato pizza until it has shrunk away from the edges of a pan and the bottom is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and allow to cool slightly; slice into pieces, and serve. Potato pizza is also delicious served at room temperature.