April 19, 2010
For several years before my Hungry Boys were born and once when the big one was a mere 3 months old, we traveled to Rome at the beginning of spring. The city is warm by afternoon and chilly at night. Trees are in bloom. Enotecas serve fava beans and artichokes all romana. Green markets sell amazingly sweet, tiny strawberries called fragoline di bosco. Life is good. And to this day, this time of year, reminds me of the eternal city, one of my favorite places ever.
It was in Rome one spring that I had one of the most memorable meals of my life. A meal that changed the way I think about food and cooking. Nothing fancy: a pizza with an egg on it at the original Pizzeria Da Baffetto. Strange that a girl who grew up right outside of New York City, with some of the best pizza in the country at her fingertips, would have her life-changed by pizza. But it wasn’t just any pizza. It was perfect: simple, tangy sauce, just the right amount of cheese, the best olive oil. And an egg.
Oh, the egg. Perfectly over easy, with a yolk that begged to be popped. And such glory when it was, adding a buttery richness that rivaled the best croissant France offers. Absolutely. Delicious. Perfection, even. And, though not specifically springtime fare, I especially long for this pizza when the weather warms and the flowers blossom.
This pizza is extremely easy to make. There is no need to prep toppings ahead of time. Just put sauce and cheese on dough. Cook most of the way. Crack and egg or two on top. Cook for a few more minutes. Done.
Some start with homemade dough. Every once in a while I make a batch and store it in the freezer. If you do the same or you want to make dough from scratch for this stellar pie, great! Go for it. Otherwise, do as I do and get a round of dough from your local pizzeria. If you can, skip pre-packaged, supermarket dough. A pie this simple tastes best when made with the best ingredients you can get your hands on. Which is why I do, on the other hand, make my own pizza sauce.
My sauce is anything but fancy. In fact, this is as simple as sauce gets. Tomatoes, olive oil and salt. I don’t even put it through a food mill. Instead, as the sauce cooks down, I work it with my spoon, breaking up the tomatoes as much as possible. It has more chunks than your typical pizza sauce, but I like the rustic feel. Plus, it’s less work and clean up.
While the sauce is cooking, make a 12″ round with your dough. When the sauce is done, spread it over the whole thing leaving about a 1/2″ rim.
Then spread the love… I mean, the cheese. I use a combo of shredded mozzarella and a few strategically placed slices of fresh mozzarella. Now, you won’t hear this from me often (I’ve more than once been accused of over cheesing), but don’t go tooooo crazy with the cheese. The sauce is delicious and fresh tasting and the egg will give your pie a rich flavor. You don’t need an ultra thick layer of gooey melted mozzarella. Really. Trust me.
Bake your pie until it’s 10-minues from done. Then take it out, crack and egg or two on top and carefully put it back to finish baking. The egg will cook up and meld with your pizza. Once your finished pie has had a couple of minutes to rest, break the yolk and spread it around so everyone gets some. But then, save the best piece—the one with some cooked yolk on it—for yourself:
Thank me later.
Rustic Pizza Sauce
makes enough for 1 1/2-2 pies, depending on how saucy you like your pie
(can be fed to kids 10+ mos)
1 28-oz can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
1/4 c olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1. Place ingredients in a pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally to break down pieces of tomato, for 45 minutes.
Pizza with Egg
makes 1 12″ pie
(can be served to kids 10+ mos)
flour, for working pizza dough
1 round pizza dough
pizza sauce (see above)
shredded mozzarella (I use about 3 oz)
fresh mozzarella, about 3 or 4 slices
salt & pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the meantime, work your pizza dough into a 12″ round on a lightly floured surface. Place it on a lightly oiled baking sheet (or on a pizza stone).
2. Spread sauce over dough, leaving a 1/2″ rim. Then spread cheese evenly over the sauce. Bake for 15 minutes.
3. Take the almost-done pizza out of the oven and crack two eggs directly on the pie. Carefully place back in the oven and cook for another 10-13 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle the egg with a little salt and pepper and allow to rest for a couple of minutes. Just before serving, break the yolk and spread as evenly as possible over the whole pie. Cut and serve!