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There are nights I feel like cooking, and there are nights I just do not, but I almost NEVER settle for something not real. By 'not real,' I mean not whole, not healthy, overly processed. Tonight is one of those nights. I'd cave in and go out, but I haven't got anybody around on this night to pal around with, so I'm thinking a glass of Sherry and....a pizza?
I was downtown shooting photos most of this afternoon. Our weather was not exactly warm today, but the sun on my face along with the cool Atlantic breeze has my cheeks flushed. I'm hungry, but I'm lazy! On my way back home, I stopped at a local shop I adore, and admittedly spend waaaaaaayyyy too much time at, Goat, Sheep, Cow. My plan was to take a small Sherry and a snack of charcuterie before heading home. It's the kind of place where eating alone is not uncomfortable, rather relaxing. I never seem to be the only connoisseur flying solo. It wasn't until I began poking around the cured meats that the idea of a rustic galette or savory flatbread popped into my head, and that would be fun to create at home with perhaps a bottle (!!!) of Sherry. I zeroed in on a beautiful duck prosciutto and pretty much knew I'd narrowed my ingredient list to include some fresh sage I have hanging on in the garden, some roasted butternut squash, and a sharp, salty cheese. That's keeping it simple, right? I grabbed a bottle of Sherry and took what the monger had left of the duck prosciutto and some Manchego, and off to home I went.
Somewhere between Meeting Street and home, I lost my pep, and ended up proofing a homemade pizza dough in lieu of stopping at the bakery for a flatbread. Cast iron is my fav for a rustic all-kinda-crazy pizza, so I began heating my oven to 425 degrees and set my cast iron in to heat up. I alternate between an old, well seasoned iron that I picked up at a flea market in Pennsylvania about 20 years ago, and a newbie to my cookware collection (which I 100% LOVE!!!) by Milo which does not require seasoning or complicated care rituals. I tossed my cubed squash with the duck fat rind from the prosciutto (rind will melt completely in the oven) and roasted it until nicely caramelized. Duck fat isn't even close to healthy, but I grew up cooking with this and enjoy the mildly salty taste. A gentle mash once cooked through along with a tablespoon of smoked paprika and a generous drizzle olive oil, and voila! Sauce. Well, paste. Maybe let's just say YUM.
This pizza, once in the oven, takes only 12 to 16 minutes depending on your preference of crust doneness and the size of your cast iron. I work almost exclusively with a 10" so for pans smaller in circumference, allow a few extra minutes.This is both a savory and sweet dish for sure; the salty pungency of the duck prosciutto paired with (and really, a hundred different cheese and/or cured provision combinations could work here), the Manchego cheese pairs beautifully with an over-caramelized butternut squash mash, enhanced with a sweet, smoked paprika. Sage is my fresh topping here and is a blast of 'earthy' when it teases these standout ingredients.
Ingredients for A Savory Duck Prosciutto Cast Iron Pizza
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2 1/2 cups cubed (about 1/2 inch) butternut squash
1/4lb duck prosciutto or any cured provision you especially like
Manchego or any sharp hard cheese you especially like, amount to your liking, rough cut or shredded
1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
10 - 20 fresh sage leaves, whole
1 pizza dough, store bought or homemade
Salt and black pepper to taste
Place cast iron in cold oven on bottom rack while preheating. In the meantime, toss cubed butternut squash with rendered duck fat or 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Salt and pepper generously and pile onto a foiled baking sheet. Squash should be spread out to allow browning. When oven is to temperature, place squash in oven on top rack and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, tossing half way to promote even doneness on all sides.
Remove cast iron from oven and place on heat-proof work surface. Using a balled-up paper towel held by tongs, oil the inside bottom and sides of cast iron using the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Roll dough on a floured work surface to loosely fit cast iron. It is okay if this is not perfect as you are going for an untraditional finished product. Place in pan and carefully press any excess dough up the sides of the pan.
Gently mash the caramelized squash in a bowl with the smoked paprika. I added a generous drizzle of olive oil in this step, however if you are trying to save the calories, this can be omitted without affecting the mash. Using the back side of a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, spread the butternut squash mash over the entire bottom of the crust, careful not to touch the hot cast iron. Arrange desired amount of duck prosciutto or other provision as well as the Manchego or other hard cheese you are using atop the puree. Finish with fresh sage leaves.
Using a hot pad, place cast iron back into the oven for approximately 12 to 16 minutes depending on desired doneness of crust. Once cooking is complete, turn pizza out onto a flat surface for a short rest and cutting. I like to use a drizzle of olive oil in this last step to finish my pie, but again does not affect flavor is this is skipped.
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