For some time, I had been wanting to make a “mac-and-cheese” pizza. My original thought was to make a basic mac-and-cheese pizza as I had seen on several occasions in pizza shops in New York City. However, for purposes of this month’s Challenge, I decided to make a fancier version. In lieu of using an orange cheddar cheese blend of some sort, I decided to use a combination of low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella cheese, NY sharp white cheddar cheese, Asiago cheese and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. I diced all of these cheeses in my food processor and then used them to make a cheese sauce. The sauce was made by making a basic roux of butter and flour and adding half-and-half, the four cheeses, salt and white pepper. The pasta I used was elbow macaroni. I cooked the macaroni to just less than al dente
--since it would cook further on the pizza--and added it to the sauce. I set the pasta aside to cool until I was ready to make the pizza. For the dough, I decided to use a Papa Gino’s clone dough along the lines discussed at Reply 79 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,8167.msg71404.html#msg71404
. The version of that dough that I made included 25% semolina flour as part of the flour blend. I thought that that dough would work well with pasta because it would bake up without a lot of crust coloration, much as I had witnessed with the NYC mac-and-cheese pizzas, yet be nice and chewy.
When time came to make the pizza, I decided to get a bit fancy and make four different pasta combinations on the same pizza. I did this by taking two thin strips of dough and putting them crosswise on the pizza to form four equal quadrants. I then put a different pasta combination in each quadrant. As a take on the Quattro Stagione
, I called the pizza Quattro Maccheroni
. The four combinations I selected were pasta with broccoli and chicken (rotisserie), pasta and ham (diced), pasta and hot sausage, and pasta and salmon (fresh Norwegian). In terms of the actual assembly of the pizza, I distributed a diced blend of the same four cheeses over the skin, which had been stretched out to 15” on a 16” pizza screen, and then spread the previously sauced pasta over the entire skin in a single layer. I then placed the two dough strips crosswise on the pizza, and added the individual meat/vegetable/fish components to the different quadrants. I ended up distributing some more of the diced four-cheese blend over the entire pizza. The pizza was baked on a pizza stone that has been placed on the lowest oven rack position and preheated for about an hour at 475 degrees F. This pizza took longer to bake than my previous PG clone pizzas (the unbaked pizza weighed a bit over 41 ounces). It took about ten minutes on the stone, followed by about 1-2 minutes on the top oven rack position to get added top crust coloration and to help brown the cheeses a bit more.
The photos below show the finished Quattro Maccheroni
pizza. Overall, I thought that the pizza turned out quite well. I sampled each of the four combinations and, while I liked them all, I found that my favorite was the pasta and ham combination. I also liked the broccoli component of the pizza. I even took some leftover broccoli and added it to a thin slice of the pasta and ham combination and reheated it on the stone. That was also a nice combination in my opinion. As I expected, the crust was nice and chewy, no doubt because of all of the semolina flour, and had a nice flavor. I also concluded that making only a macaroni and cheese pizza all by itself would be a good version. However, for such a pizza, it is important that the cheeses used for the sauce and for use on the pizza just before baking impart a lot of flavor to the otherwise neutral and bland flavor of the pasta itself. I estimate that it takes about a third of a pound of dry macaroni for a 14”-15” pizza. That is for a single layer of the pasta on the pizza. However, I concluded that using about a layer and a half of the cooked pasta is likely to be optimum, rather than the single layer I used. Otherwise, the presence of the pasta can be subjugated to the other toppings. I also suggest that the pasta be cooked more al dente
than normal since the pasta will also cook when added to the sauce and during the baking of the pizza itself. I think it is better for the pasta to be firm rather than soft.