For chef David Myers of Pizzeria Ortica in Costa Mesa, California, pizza is a passion. Unlike dough-slingers in Famous Ray’s around Manhattan, however, he can impart an unfailingly light touch to the pie, which is something we should all consider. A good example of this technique is Myers’s sauce-less Milanesa Pizza, with thyme-sautéed asparagus, four cheeses, including mild fontina and light mascarpone, as well as a one whole egg on top. “For people who are so used to the typical sauce-based pizza, it’s something new and fun to try,” he says. “For summer, or really anytime you miss the acidity of sauce, I recommend adding a few cut fresh cherry tomatoes to the recipe.”
Myers, who travels to Naples and Rome very often, skews minimalist about his technique. “I think the temperature of the oven is key,” he says. “So is a good dough, for starters.” That’s why he uses the best Guisto 00 flour, which you can find online if your local store does not carry it, although any good pizza flour will work. “There’s is some skill required to execute something like this,” he says. But at the end of the day, “the simpler, the better.”
Dough (Yields 4 balls of dough):
• 2 lbs. of Giusto 00 flour plus extra for working the dough
• 1 tsp. instant yeast
• 1 tbsp. salt
• 2 cups cold water
• 4 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for storing dough
In a large mixer bowl, mix flour, yeast and salt. Add water and stir together until roughly combined. Mount the mixing bowl to a mixer with a dough hook and mix, gradually increasing speed to medium for about 5 minutes.
On a well-floured surface, knead the soft, wet dough gently, folding it over once with a coating of flour. Let rest for 15 minutes.
Place in an oiled bowl and store overnight in the refrigerator.
Six to eight hours before use, remove and form into 4 even balls. Replace into refrigerator. Four hours before use, remove desired dough and let rest and come to room temperature until baking time. Dough should not be less than 55 degrees Fahrenheit at time of shaping.
Preferably, use a pizza stone that has been heated in an oven for at least an hour to reach 550 degrees Fahrenheit.
Milanesa Toppings (for one 12″ pizza):
• 12 thin stalks of asparagus, ends peeled
• 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
• 6 sprigs of thyme
• 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
• 1/2 cup fontina cheese, grated
• 2 oz. mozzarella, grated
• 2 tbsp. mascarpone
• 2 tbsp. Parmigiano Reggiano
• 1 medium free-range egg
• 1 tbsp. butter
• one leaf of sage
In a medium saute pan on high heat, cook asparagus, garlic, thyme and olive oil for 2 minutes. Asparagus should be al dente as it will be cooked again when the pizza is baked. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Combine cheeses and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
On a floured surface, stretch dough to 12″ circle, starting from 6″ diameter, flattened ball of dough. Be careful when stretching the dough not to stretch it too thin and tear it. Dough should be evenly flat all around except for a bit along the edge for the crust.
Melt butter in a frying pan until just browned, add sage leaf and egg. Fry egg to desired doneness. We recommend over-easy. Remove immediately from heat and set aside.
Place dough on sheet dusted with flour. Remember that you will need to transfer the pizza to the stone. Top with cheese mixture and arrange asparagus.
Place pizza onto stone in 550 degree Fahrenheit oven. Bake until crust is nicely browned and crisp. Cheese should be evenly melted and slightly bubbling.
Remove from oven. Slice the pizza as desired (optional) and then top with fried egg.