Jamie Oliver has come in for a lot of criticism for his money-saving TV series (and accompanying “Save with Jamie” book). I think it’s largely an issue of mis-targeting. This is not a book a “cheap” recipes. It’s a book of “cheaper than most TV chefs’ recipes are” recipes. It’s not for people trying to manage on a very tight budget, it’s for people who would normally chuck a 500g pack of mince into a spag bol for 4 without a thought, and are now thinking maybe I should try to make this stretch a bit further.
Jamie’s recipes generally work pretty well, and my boyfriend is a big fan of pizza, so I’m trying out his “American Hot Pizza Pie”.
One criticism of the “money-saving” aspect of this book is that all of the recipes are for 6 or more. Most recipe books work on a basis of 4. Of course things are cheaper in bulk! This pizza recipe allegedly serves 8-10. I am not convinced by that. It makes 4 pizzas. I’ll use half measures, make two pizzas, and see if one of them will feed two of us.
- 1kg bread flour (so I’ll use 500g)
- 1 sachet dried yeast (I’m going to use a whole one anyway)
- 3 tbsp olive oil (Jamie says extra virgin, I say yeah right)
- 2 cloves garlic (I love garlic so will use two)
- 1 tsp dried oregano (I have oregano in my garden so will use fresh)
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes (I’ll see how far half a tin goes – it doesn’t sound like enough for 2 big pizzas)
- red wine vinegar (don’t have any – assume white wine vinegar or malt vinegar will do)
- 50g ciabatta or stale bread (I can’t actually see where this is used in the recipe)
- olive oil
- 6-8 quality sausages (I’ll interpret this as half a pack of nice sausages)
- 1 red onion
- 25 slices pickled jalapeno or 2 fresh green chillis (I have fresh red chillis)
- 150g cheddar or mozzarella (my pack is 125g of mozzarella and I suspect I will want all of it on my two pizzas)
- 1 heaped tsp fennel seeds (I don’t have a pestle and mortar so will have to leave this out)
- 1 good pinch smoked paprika
Step one is to remember that you are making dough, and it needs to rise, so leave plenty of time in advance! Make dough from the flour, sea salt, yeast, 600ml (or 300ml for me) tepid water, olive oil. Knead “until smooth and springy” or “until you lose the will to live and then some more”.
Jamie says to put it in a bowl and cover with a damp tea towel, but Esther says that you really should put clingfilm on top and make a seal, and that damp teatowels alone just don’t work. Leave it somewhere warm for an hour.
Make tomato sauce by putting sliced garlic, oregano, tomatoes, vinegar into a blender. Whizz, add salt/pepper. No cooking of the sauce? I bet this sauce would be testier if it were actually cooked. If you don’t have red wine vinegar apparently you can use some of the liquid from your jar of jalapenos. I’l assume then that any vinegar will do. Pickedl onion vinegar even. At this point Jamie says to turn the ciabatta into breadcrumbs. He then does not mention it again. My bread doesn’t really go “stale”, it’s edibly soft until the point that it goes mouldy, so I’m going to leave this out altogether.
Put your oven on to 190C. “Knock the dough back” – apparently you are supposed t know what this means just like you are supposed to know how long to knead for – divide into 4 (or 2 in my case) and stretch or roll out until about 30cm across. Put into tins (because obviously you have 4 30cm-wide tins just knocking about) and let prove for 30mins (I forgot this and just put the toppings on straight away). No mention of whether to cover them at this stage, or what “proving” is. I’ll leave in a warm place (on top of the warming-up cooker).
I don’t actually have a 30cm round tin so I had to improvise. I’ve got a round flan dish and a square tin.
Top the pizzas with the sauce, squeezed-out sausage meat, sliced red onion, chilli, olive oil, cheese, etc. I can see that 150g of mozzarella between 4 of these would really not have been enough. I added some red pepper too. Sprinkle over paprika and bashed fennel (if you are using it, I wasn’t).
This is the point at which you clingfilm and freeze any pizzas that you don’t want right now. These can be cooked straight from the freezer – about 30mins allegedly. I didn’t want to put my dish out of action so I put tinfoil into the dish, made the pizza on top of that, then froze it uncovered until it was solid enough to take out of the dish. Then I clingfilmed it loosely. When it comes to cooking time I can take the clingfilm off easily, and if the tinfoil is a bit more reluctant that’s OK (clingfilm stuck to pizza would be a bad idea to put into oven!)
Bake pizzas 15-20mins (cheese should be bubbly/brown, crust should be puffy/brown). This did not take 20 mins, it took more like 40.
As you can see, the cheese melted into the sauce a bit. The sauce was surprisingly tasty, in spite of not having been cooked before. The edge was difficult to cut and generally boring. I think that the edge problem and the cheese-melting-into-sauce problem would be helped by making a fat pizza, on a baking tray not in a dish, and cooking more quickly at the highest temperature I can manage.
This was a bit of a faff, but it was tasty, and quite filling. I imagine anything requiring bread dough is going to be at least this much faff so it’s not exactly his fault. Assembling/decorating the pizza is fun, and you could put all sort of different things on top. One pizza is enough for 2 adults (with salad etc) so Jamie’s not wrong there, and the amount of sausage on top was fine, although he is wrong about how much cheese you need.