Steak Gorgonzola Pizza

Hiver 2008
food and drink

BY: Marilyn Bentz-Crowley

Beef with blue cheese is delicious. Here, tender strip-loin steak joins luscious Gorgonzola, sweet onion, red pepper and mushrooms. If time is short, use refrigerated thick blue-cheese salad dressing as the sauce. And if blue cheese is not a favourite, simply substitute your preferred tomato sauce and pass a bottle of steak sauce.

1 recipe pizza dough (recipe follows) or purchased dough,
about 500 g (1 lb)

1 tbsp (15 mL) butter
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp (45 mL) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 mL) cold whole milk
½ cup (125 mL) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, about 3 oz (90 g)
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
¼ tsp (1 mL) freshly ground black pepper

12 to 16 oz (375 to 500 g) strip loin steak, preferably
1-inch (2.5-cm) thick
1 tsp (5 mL) peanut oil
1 sweet red pepper
1 large or 2 medium portobello mushrooms
¾ cup (175 mL) freshly grated ´Za hard-cheese blend (recipe follows) or hard cheese of choice
3 cups (750 mL) cubed `Za soft cheese blend or soft cheese of choice
1 cup (250 mL) thinly sliced sweet red or white onion
2 tsp (10 mL) finely chopped fresh or dry rosemary

1. Pat out dough in two 12-inch (30-cm) oiled pizza pans for thin crusts or a half-sheet for a medium-thick crust. If using a jelly-roll pan for a thick crust, reduce topping quantities by a third. Form a rim around edges. Dough resists flattening so let rest between patting while continuing with toppings.

2. To make sauce, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Mix in flour; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Slowly whisk in milk; cook, stirring often, for 5 to 8 minutes or until mixture bubbles and thickens. Remove from heat. Stir in Gorgonzola, salt and pepper. If sauce seems very thick, stir in splashes of additional milk until consistency is that of pasta sauce. (Sauce can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

3. Heat a dry heavy frying pan, preferably cast iron or a grill pan, over medium-high heat until very hot. Rub both sides of steak with oil. Place steak in hot pan; sear 1 minute per side. Remove to plate while still very rare; immediately refrigerate. (Cover when cold if making up to a day ahead.) Slice cold steak into bite-sized ¼-inch (0.5-cm thick slices just before using. Seed and very thinly slice red pepper. Remove stem from mushroom. Scrape out and discard black gills and stem. Thinly slice remaining mushroom.

4. Arrange oven racks with one on lowest level and 1 one upper level.

5. Preheat oven to 475°F (240°C) at least 15 minutes before baking.

6. Spread dough with sauce; then sprinkle with grated Parmesan and steak. Scatter top evenly with cheese cubes; top with red pepper, mushroom and onion slices. Let rise, uncovered, for 10 to 20 minutes until dough has almost doubled.

7. Place pizza on lowest rack. Bake 5 to 10 minutes. Use a spatula to turn up one corner of dough to check for browning. When nicely browned, move pizza to top rack for 5 to 8 minutes or until top is golden. Scatter rosemary overtop of hot pizza. To preserve crispy bottom, slide onto a cooling rack; cut pizza with kitchen shears.

Serves 4 to 6

`Za Cheese Blend

Cubed soft cheese on pizza is far superior to grated mixtures as cubes produce pillows of melted cheese of varying flavours so each bite is just a little different. And hard cheeses such as Parmesan, Romano and Asiago are best if freshly grated into long thin strips. Purchasing cheese at a supermarket often means packaged pre-cut pieces, so here's a method to preserve the bounty - using several cheeses that regularly appear on my homemade pizzas. Vary blend according to personal taste and availability.

12 oz (375 g) mozzarella
12 oz (375 g) mild provolone or unsmoked, fresh scamorza
12 oz (375 g) Friulano
4 oz (125 g) Parmesan
4 oz (125 g) Romano or Asiago

1.  Using a heavy chef's knife, dice mozzarella, provolone and Friulano into scant ½-inch (1-cm) cubes. Toss to mix. There should be about 6 cups (1.5 L).

2. Using food processor fitted with a medium grating blade or a hand grater, grate Parmesan and Romano or Asiago. There should be about 4 cups (1 L).

3. Transfer cubed soft cheeses to a freezer-weight reclosable plastic bag. (Heavy-gauge bags prevent cheese from picking up refrigerator odors.) Grated cheese is best placed in a rigid-sided container to avoid clumping.

4.  Chilled, cheese keeps well for a week. Or better still, freeze and use on future pizzas directly from the freezer. (Cheese used for cooking suffers little loss of quality when frozen.)

Makes enough cheese for several pizzas

Pizza Dough

A handy Italian bakery may be all that you need for homemade pizza, as a “pound” bag of dough is quite inexpensive.  Fresh dough, whether homemade or purchased, is far better than a pre-baked crust, but use latter (following package instructions) if pressed for time. However, if preference or location means you will be making dough, here are some variations to try (recipe follows). There's no need to have a special pizza pan, as assorted baking pans or cookie sheets are fine; however do not use a 'doubled' cookie baking sheet as this inhibits browning on the bottom crust. A dark pan produces a better crust and heavy-gauge steel limits burning. Canadian Paderno brand is widely available and makes inexpensive dark-steel pans that are both hefty and nonstick. As a rule of thumb, a pound of dough makes 2 thin-crusted 12-inch (30-cm) round pizzas, or 1 medium-crusted pizza on a 12 x 16½-inch (30 x 41-cm) pan known to chefs as a 'half-sheet' or 1 thick-crusted pizza on a 10 x 15-inch (25 x 38-cm) pan called a jelly-roll pan. A thick-crust pizza requires only about two-thirds of the sauce and toppings needed for others.

Basic Dough
1 to 2½ tsp (5 to 12 mL) bread machine or instant dry yeast
2½ to 3 cups (625 to 750 mL) bread (hard) flour or all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1¼ cups (300 mL) water
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil

Pizza stone:
To replicate a pizzeria oven, buy a ceramic “stone” or enough unglazed tiles to snugly line oven rack. Long cotton sleeves and long oven mitts prevent burns when using this technique. Place stone or tiles on lowest rack; preheat oven to 475°F (240°C) at least a half hour ahead of baking. Make a pizza with a medium to thick crust for easier handling until you become proficient. Place prepared pizza in pan or baking sheet on heated ceramic area. Bake 5 to 10 minutes; then peek at bottom. If somewhat browned and stiff enough to lift, remove pizza from oven. Loosen pizza completely, open oven and slide pizza minus pan onto hot stone. Continue baking another 5 minutes or until bottom is richly browned. Position original pan or a wooden peel next to pizza and slide on baked pizza. To preserve crispy bottom, slide onto a cooling rack; cut pizza with kitchen shears.

1. To make dough in bread maker, use 1 tsp (5 mL) bread machine yeast and 2½ cups (625 mL) flour. Layer into canister along with salt, water and oil, using manufacturer's directions; use dough mode. (Use the programming device so the dough is ready at suppertime.) Check at the beginning of the cycle. If dough seems too wet to form a soft ball, add some flour and if already a firm ball, add some water. When cycle is finished, place dough on oiled pans. Let rest 10 minutes, then pat out.

2. To make dough by hand, stir 2 ½ tsp (12 mL) yeast with 2½ cups (625 mL) flour and salt in a large mixing bowl; make a well in the centre. Set remaining flour aside for use in kneading. Add water and olive oil. (Water should be very warm to the touch, like bath water.) Stir until all flour is incorporated into dough. If dough seems too wet, add some flour and if too dry, add some water.  Turn out on floured surface. Knead 8 to 10 minutes using small amounts of remaining flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Place dough ball on oiled pizza pan; flip over so dough is coated with oil. Let rest, uncovered, 10 minutes - this is the first “rise.”

3.  Arrange oven racks with one on the lowest level and one on the upper level.

4.  Preheat oven to 475°F (240°C). Pat out dough in oiled pan (s); form a rim around edges. Spread with sauce; then sprinkle with toppings. Let rise, uncovered, for 10 to 20 minutes until dough has almost doubled in thickness.

5.  Place pizza on lowest rack. Bake 5 to 10 minutes. Use a spatula to turn up one corner of the dough to check for browning. When nicely browned, move pizza to top rack for 5 to 8 minutes or until top is golden. Ovens with exposed heating elements brown crust fastest so watch carefully; then adjust baking times for future pizzas to suit your individual oven.


Extra Crispy:
Add ¼ cup (50 mL) fine cornmeal to water; let soak at least 15 minutes before making dough to prevent graininess in baked crust.

To add a whole-grain flavour, substitute 1 cup (250 mL) spelt flour for same amount of bread flour. Spelt is ancient, low-yield wheat popular in Europe and has a fine, almost nutty, taste.

Soak 1 cup (250 mL) fine cornmeal in 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) water for 15 minutes. Reduce bread flour to 2 cups (500 mL). Use a bread machine or mixer with dough hook to keep dough extra-moist.

What to Serve