Courters' Kitchen: Pisa Pizza pizza: Make your own pies (with video)

Courters' Kitchen: Pisa Pizza pizza: Make your own pies (with video)

May 7th, 2014 by Barry Courter in Life Entertainment

COURTERS' KITCHEN

This monthly cooking series features husband and wife team Barry and Kelley Courter.

BARRY: In our family, the name Pisa Pizza is spoken with the same reverence usually reserved for lost loved ones. Which it is. My brother, Scott, ran the North Shore restaurant for 11 years before closing it in 2010. We all miss the tasty pies, pastas and salads, so when my son was given a Kitchen Aid mixer and he started making pies using Scott's recipes, we thought it would be fun to feature them here.

KELLEY: I've not had better pizza anywhere, and this is really nice of Scott to share. Unfortunately, he was sick the day we made these, but he was very generous with his recipes and time.

BARRY: We all have our favorites, but we generally agree on the Brainerd Burrito, with hamburger, onions, jalapenos, black olives and cheese, and the Four Bridges, made with garlic, seasoned chicken, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes and cheese. Both are deceptively simple but packed with flavor. I've also had the Brainerd Burrito with black beans instead of hamburger.

The trick with these, as we learned with our experiments, is to not over-pack the pies.

One guest especially liked the habaƱero on the pineapple pie.

"It added a nice bite without being too hot," he said.

KELLEY: I also experimented on a couple, mixing rosemary into the dough, and we made a couple with ham and pineapple, and I made the black bean version for Scott and his family.

It's also important to note that the white sauce for the Four Bridges is chopped-up garlic and olive oil. I brushed it on the dough before adding the other ingredients.

I made enough dough for 10 12-inch pies. We cooked five in the oven and one on the grill with a pizza stone. I wasn't happy with it because it wasn't hot enough to cook evenly.

Making the dough was really easy thanks to the Kitchen Aid. Everything came out wonderfully, but you need a really hot oven to get the crust just right, and ours wasn't quite up to the task. They tasted great, however.

BARRY: We had a lot of fun, and it was great to taste these pies again. "I hope people will experiment," Scott says. "Use this as a starting place and build your own."

KELLEY: I always added something or tweaked it when we visited the restaurant.

Dough

3 cups bread flour

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup warm water

2-1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Mix the flour and salt in the bowl of a mixer with a whisk. In a separate bowl, whisk together the water, yeast and sugar. Let that sit until the mixture gets foamy. Add all wet ingredients to the dry and mix on the lowest or second-to-lowest setting for 15 minutes with the dough hook. The dough should be uniform and silky to the touch. In other words, it will have a soft skin when you work it into a ball with your hands, and there should be no lumps.

Weather affects dough, so you may have to play around with adding flour or water to get the texture right. Give it at least 10 minutes before you add anything, though. Also, dry is worse than wet; if you have to err, do it on the side of a wet dough.

Yield will be about 28 ounces of dough, which will make an 18-inch pizza. Divided in half will yield two 12-inch pizzas.

Work the dough into smooth, round balls and store in a lightly oiled and covered container. Allow for plenty of expansion. Refrigerate if it is going to sit for more than a couple of hours. Must sit for at least two hours at room temperature, but is much better if it has at least 5 hours to grow. Can be made 1 day in advance.

Former Pisa Pizza owner Scott Courter shared his recipes for making pies the Pisa way. Barry and Kelley Courter made his versions of the Four Bridges, top, Brainerd Burrito, middle, and their own version of a pineapple and ham pie.

Photo by Doug Strickland/Times Free Press.

Sauce

1 can (28 ounces) tomato sauce

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

3 large garlic cloves, minced

Handful each of basil and oregano, chopped

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients together.

Makes enough for three 18-inch pies.

Brainerd Burrito Pizza

Under the cheese

Ground beef (or black beans for a veggie version)

Cheddar cheese

On top of the cheese

Black olives

JalapeƱos

White onions, chopped

Mozzarella, low moisture, part skim

Four Bridges Pizza

Seasoned chicken, see recipe below (or seasoned tofu for veggie version)

Artichoke hearts

Sun-dried tomatoes

Gorgonzola cheese

Mozzarella, low moisture, part skim

Place chicken, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes and Gorgonzola on crust; top with mozzarella.

Seasoned Chicken

2 large chicken breasts

1 tablespoon basil

1 tablespoon oregano

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook chicken and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Toss with the seasoning and oil.