When he meets a pizza topped with potato, mozzarella and anchovies, Max Allen reaches for a full-flavoured dry white.
Like you, I normally reach for a bottle of red when anybody mentions pizza. A good, young, cherry-juicy sangiovese perhaps, or an earthy rustic grenache-based wine: easy-drinking styles of red. But if you think about the toppings on this pizza, I think you'll agree it'd be better with a full-flavoured dry white: the salty, fishy punch of anchovy needs some fat, sweet, grapy fruit; the creamy softness of the mozzarella needs some refreshing acidity; and the deep savoury earthiness of the nettles needs some mineral dryness. Southern Italy is home to a number of grape varieties that fit the bill perfectly, but a fiano would be a particularly good choice. The fiano grape produces whites that can be really heady and rich - that fill the nostrils with perfume and sit plumply on the tongue - but also retain a clean lick of acid on the finish. Until a couple of years ago, the only examples available here were Italian, and while there are some excellent Italian fianos I could recommend, it's a grape that seems to be flourishing in a range of Australian climates, so I'm sticking to local examples.
- 3 Desiree potatoes (about 100gm each), scrubbed, thinly sliced on a mandolin
- 18 anchovy fillets
- 2 buffalo mozzarella (about 125gm each), coarsely torn
- 80 gm finely grated parmesan
- 1 tbsp rosemary
- 1 long red chilli, thinly sliced
- For drizzling: olive oil
- For shallow-frying: vegetable oil
- 1 cup (loosely packed) nettles (see note)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 7 gm (1 sachet) dried yeast
- 500 gm (3 1/3 cups) plain flour
- 1For pizza dough, combine oil, yeast, 1 tsp fine sea salt, a pinch of flour and 350ml warm water in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and set aside until foamy (2-3 minutes). Gradually add remaining flour, mix until a dough forms, then turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (6-8 minutes). Place in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in size (1-1½ hours). Knock back dough, knead lightly, cover and set aside again until doubled in size (45 minutes-1 hour).
- 2Preheat oven to 220C. Divide dough into three, roll out on a lightly floured surface into 5mm-thick rounds, transfer to oven trays lined with baking paper, scatter with potato, anchovies, mozzarella, parmesan, rosemary and chilli, drizzle with oil, season to taste and bake, swapping trays occasionally, until golden and cooked through (12-15 minutes).
- 3Meanwhile, heat oil in a large deep-sided frying pan over medium-high heat, add nettles and shallow-fry until crisp (30 seconds-1 minute). Drain on absorbent paper, scatter over pizzas and serve hot.
Note Uncooked nettles really do sting; wear rubber gloves when handling them uncooked. Nettles are available from select greengrocers and farmers' markets; if they're unavailable, substitute flat-leaf parsley. Drink suggestion by Max Allen