Mr. Alpenglow’s first homemade pizza had to pay homage to Franny’s (“a shrine for zealots and converts“) clam pizza, easily one of the tastiest pies in New York City. The truth: it was not easy. Three malformed pies preceded the one above, smoke filled the kitchen, and tears were welling in guests’ eyes. Martha, goddess of the hearth, looked down — first in scorn, then with pity. The earth shook momentarily and a fourth pizza emerged from the smoke in full splendor: a good char, round shape, with a briny aroma, dried chilies for heat, fresh parsley and lemon to balance the richness of the creamy clam sauce, and a chewy crust. It was utterly delicious.
CLAM, CHILIES & PARSLEY PIZZA
(makes 4 twelve-inch pizzas)
for the dough, based on Jim Lahey’s recipe:
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups of water
Mix the yeast and water. Combine it with the flour and salt in a large bowl, mixing thoroughly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place for 12-24 hours until the dough has nearly doubled (*I left it for only 8 hours and it was still very good). Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and sprinkle the top with flour. Fold the dough over itself twice, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 15 minutes. Then divide it in 4 pieces and shape each into a ball. Sprinkle a clean cotton towel with flour and cover the dough for balls, allowing it to rise for 2 more hours. Before cooking, gently stretch the dough into the desired shape.
for the toppings, based on Franny’s recipe:
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 Spanish onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 1/4 cups of dry white wine
4 1/2 dozen littleneck clams (6 lbs), scrubbed
1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
1/2 cup of chopped Italian parsley
Heat a pizza stone on a rack in the top third of the oven at 500 for one hour. Meanwhile heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic. Reduce the heat and cook for about 7 minutes until the onions begin to turn golden. Add the wine and bring to a simmer. Add the clams, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes until the clams open. As they open, transfer them to a bowl. When all the clams have opened, simmer the liquid in the pot until it reduces to a thick glaze, about 10 minutes. Add the cream and cook for 10-15 minutes longer, reducing the liquid by a quarter. Strain through a mesh sieve. It will thicken further as it cools. Proceed to pluck the clam meat from their shells. Shape your pizza dough into a 12-inch round on the backside of a floured baking sheet. Working quickly, paint the entire pie with the glaze. Scatter a quarter of the clams onto the pizza along with the chili flakes. Slide the pizza onto the stone and bake for 3 minutes. Then turn on the broiler and broil the pizza for 2-4 minutes longer until it is golden, crisp, and blistery, charred in places (be careful that it doesn’t char too much). Slide the pizza off the stone and sprinkle with parsley, fine extra virgin olive oil, and a little fresh lemon juice.