This time each year various writers and pundits produce “Best Of” lists. In a recent such list, Pete Wells, Restaurant Critic for the New York Times published a list of the 10 Best Restaurant Dishes for 2014. Most, of course, sound delicious. Most also sound far beyond a home kitchen (hence the Restaurant Dishes qualifier). One, however, not only sounded delicious but quite doable in a home kitchen, Pizza with Potato Carbonara as served at Danny Meyer’s Marta.
Given that Mr. Wells is a critic, not a food writer, there is only a critics-eye description of the pizza – but no recipe or even a sense of general proportions. But, I’ve made spaghetti carbonara many times and I’ve made countless pizzas so I figured I could puzzle out a “recipe” and procedure for potato pizza carbonara.
The first question was how to deal with the eggs. This couldn’t be as simple as dumping scrambled eggs over the other ingredients. In pasta carbonara, the eggs are cooked by tossing the raw eggs with the drained hot pasta. Can’t really do that with a pizza. And pouring raw whisked eggs over the pizza sounded messy. Somewhere I saw a comment about Marta’s pizza that suggested using coddled eggs – partially cooked and lightly beaten, the eggs would have a head start on cooking once they hit the hot pizza.
The other bits were pretty easy – boil some potatoes (I used medium Yukon Gold), blanch some bacon, which is what I had on hand but, the restaurant original used guanciale. I cut the bacon into lardons and blanched it for 90 seconds to reduce the smokiness and cut back on the fat a bit.
I used the recipe for pizza dough from the old Time-Life: Food of the World series (The Cooking of Italy, page 16-17). After rolling/stretching the dough into a 10″ oval, I brushed olive oil over the upper surface of the dough; crumbled the cooled, cooked, peeled potatoes over the dough; added a generous grating of fresh Romano cheese and a sprinkling of the blanched bacon. Bake on a pizza stone in a well pre-heated 500˚ oven for 10 minutes. Pull the pizza from the oven and immediately pour the coddled egg over the HOT pizza.
Well, that didn’t exactly work. Some of the egg set pretty quickly but there were pockets (puddles?) of the egg that seemed to just sit there and didn’t cook. Some of the runnier parts of the egg oozed towards the edges and dribbled onto the peel. Maybe too much egg? Maybe the egg was too cool? Maybe the thin crust pizza didn’t hold as much heat as I had hoped. What to do? Put the whole think back in the still hot oven for a few minutes more until the eggs set adequately.
The end result was quite good, ultimately more like a frittata than a carbonara but still very tasty. This “pizza” would be welcome at breakfast or brunch or as we did, for dinner.