Fo­cac­cia con il for­mag­gio


QT Magazine - - FOOD, WINE, AND COFFEE -

Serves 4

In re­cent years, cer­tain com­mer­cial pizza com­pa­nies have come up with the no­tion of the “cheese-stuffed crust”. They’d prob­a­bly be sur­prised to learn that it was first de­scribed 2200 years ago in a book called De Re Rus­tica (About Rus­tic Things) by a Ro­man writer known as Cato The El­der. He re­ferred to a dish called scribilita thus: “En­close be­tween sheets of dough slices of cheese.” This scribilita was next men­tioned in the records of the Abbey of San Frut­tu­oso (near Portofino, just east of Genoa) in the year 1189. Ap­par­ently some knights on the way to the cru­sades were served “a fo­cac­cia of wheat flour and curds and whey”. The doc­u­ment was used as ev­i­dence by the Gas­tro­nomic Con­sor­tium of the town of Recco, just east of Genoa, in 2010, when they were seek­ing an EU spe­cial trade­mark for the lo­cal spe­cial­ity. The dish is at its best in a restau­rant called Manuelina, and this is our ver­sion of their recipe. The cheese they use is stracchino, but you can sub­sti­tute any creamy soft cheese — ide­ally Ital­ian, and not brie or camem­bert, which tend to have am­mo­nia in the skin.


250 g plain flour sea salt 125 ml olive oil 350 g soft creamy cheese, ide­ally stracchino


You will need a shal­low metal pizza tray or large paella pan to make this dish. Place the flour, a pinch of salt and half the olive oil in a bowl and mix well, adding a few drops of wa­ter from a wet hand. Place the dough on a clean, flat, lightly floured sur­face and knead with your hands for about 10 min­utes, un­til you have a smooth soft dough, adding a lit­tle wa­ter if it seems too dry. Shape into a ball, cover with a cloth and rest in a warm place for 1 hour. Pre­heat the oven to 220°C (425°F). Knead the dough again for about 3 min­utes, then split into two even por­tions. Roll out each ball of dough into a pa­per-thin cir­cu­lar sheet about the size of your pizza tray or paella pan. Lightly oil the pan and place one sheet of the dough on it. Break the cheese into small pieces and dot them all over the sheet of dough. Cover with the sec­ond sheet of dough, press­ing down gen­tly on the edges. Cut off any ex­cess that over­laps the edges. Sprin­kle a lit­tle more olive oil over the sur­face of the dough, spread­ing it with your hands. Sprin­kle on a lit­tle salt and tear a few holes in the top to al­low the steam to es­cape. Bake for about 20 min­utes, un­til the fo­cac­cia be­comes golden. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

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