|Focaccia Rustico (Pizza Bianca)
By Chef Marti Mongiello
(MSCS/SS Mongiello, MBA)
Using my own experiences of growing up in an Italian-American family, I’ve combined recipe ideas from Italian Chefs (of the Italian Delegation to NATO). I tested, experimented and developed the following “magic” recipe that works wonderfully! Part of the secret is in the salt and the other part is in adding in garlic powder, dried parsley, dried oregano and dried basil. This makes a heavier Focaccia and it is quite rustic, not so light and airy and very soft and meaty.
You can also make this and then add chopped tomatoes, Extra-virgin olive oil, onion and basil onto the top of a slice and, poof; you have “Bruschetta.” Since we all don’t have a scale in our house and some of us only have measuring cups – I’m providing this in three different ways to measure it out. Also, many of you live outside the United States – so I also offer the metric equivalent.
9 Cups (1 Kg or 2 ¼ Lbs.) Pillsbury sifted white flour
2 1/3 to 2 ¾ Cups (500 to 600 mg) Warm water
(usage varies because it depends on the flour)
1 Teaspoon Domino sugar
4 Teaspoons Kosher salt
1/8th Cup (20 grams or ¾ oz.) Yeast
1 Teaspoon Mc Cormick Dried oregano
1 Teaspoon Mc Cormick Dried parsley
1 Teaspoon Mc Cormick Dried basil
1 Teaspoon Mc Cormick Garlic powder
2 Teaspoons Colavita Extra Virgin Olive oil
Okay, this is really easy to do. So let’s try it together, okay? Alright then, here we go… Mix the sugar and yeast together in a large, dry bowl. Now add the warm (NOT HOT and NOT COLD) water and stir until dissolved nicely. No need to WHIP IT, just a gentle stirring action so that it is dissolved.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt and herbs together with the garlic powder. Then add all of that to your water mixture gradually and stir with your free hand (or get a friend to help). While stirring, add in that oil. Begin kneading and develop a nice elastic dough. Don’t over work the dough. Just a nice, mixed knead and then shape it into a ball. Leave it in the big bowl. Now get out a fairly old kitchen towel (not your fancy one) and drench it down in the sink. Wring it out so that it is damp. Okay, great! Cover the top of the entire bowl like a blanket and let it sit for about three hours in a warm place. Spread it out on a sheet pan (in Europe they sometimes call this a “tin”) that has been lightly olive oiled. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top (not much). Cook at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 Celsius) for 25 to 30 minutes. Keep your eye on it. If your oven is not so good (like mine!) then be careful the bottom doesn’t cook too hard. If you get to that point and need to stop, then switch it over to broil and brown the top for a few seconds. Bellisimo! It will be wonderful.
Be careful if you do broil it for those few seconds. A casual walk into the next room to flip the TV station could spell doom for the Focaccia. Don’t go anywhere, stay right there and watch the Focaccia inside the glass of the oven door. Better yet, open that door and take a quick peek!
Enjoy the best Focaccia I have ever had in the world!