On an October 1981 menu from Chez Panisse Café that I came across, I spotted “Pizza Messicana,” a pizza with chorizo, hot and sweet peppers, cilantro, and fresh and dry jack cheese. It reminded me of a pizza I ate last year at Zuni Café. Poblano chiles and cilantro complemented Cowgirl Creamery’s Wagon Wheel cheese. I hadn't considered putting chiles and cilantro on pizza before, but the combinations worked. It's a good thing Zuni is keeping up with this nearly forgotten California-style combo.
For best results, start the dough the day before you intend to make the pizzettas.
Makes 2 pizzettas
- A scant 2 cups / 250 grams all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon / 5 grams salt
- 1/4 teaspoon / 1 gram rapid rise yeast
- 3/4 cup / 175 grams warm water
- Vegetable oil or olive oil, for brushing
- 1 large poblano chile
- About 1/2 cup salsa verde
- 1/4 cup sliced pickled jalapeños en escabeche
- 3.5 ounces / 100 grams fontina cheese, sliced
- 2 ounces / 60 grams grated dry jack cheese, such as Vella
- Cilantro sprigs, for garnish
In a glass or ceramic bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and yeast. With a wooden spoon or your hands, stir in the water until a thick paste-like dough forms. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at a cool room temperature for 8 hours or until the dough loses its stiffness and fermentation bubbles begin to appear on the sides. Refrigerate overnight.
Lightly oil a baking sheet. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature, 2 to 3 hours. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide into 4 even pieces about 3.7 ounces / 105 grams each. For each piece, fold the 4 sides into the center and turn over. Cup the palm of your hand over the dough and rotate clockwise until the dough forms a tight ball. Transfer the balls to the baking sheet and cover loosely with a towel. Let the balls rise until they feel airy, 1 to 2 hours.
Meanwhile, assemble the toppings. Put the poblano over a gas burner or grill and char the skins until evenly blistered on all sides. Place the poblano on a clean counter and cover with an upturned bowl. (This forces steam to loosen the skins.) Remove the bowl and peel the poblano. Cut off and discard the stem and discard the seeds. Slice the poblano into thin strips.
Position a cast-iron grill pan under a broiler and turn the broiler to high. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
For each round of dough: Put the round on a floured surface and flour the top. Using your fingertips, gently pat the dough into a disk. Press down gently, stretching the edges away from the center until the dough is about 7 inches wide. Brush both sides lightly with oil.
Remove the grill pan from the oven. It is hot enough if a drop of water sizzles on contact. Lay the oiled dough on top, avoiding any overlapping wrinkles. Broil for 3 minutes or until the crust puffs up and has some blistering. Place the round, grilled side down, on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining rounds of dough.
Turn off the broiler and turn the oven to 500ºF.
To assemble the pizzettas: Spoon a thin layer of salsa verde on the pizza, leaving the edges plain. Distribute the cheeses evenly over the pizzettas. Tuck slices of poblano and pickled jalapeños among the cheeses. Bake for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Garnish with sprigs of cilantro.