CLAM PIZZA with PARSLEY & CHILIES

You know how, after making some recipes, you’ll think, “Huh. That was pretty good.”

This is not one of those recipes. This one involves sheer alchemy. I tried it first at Franny’s in Brooklyn. It blew my mind then and — since getting ahold of the recipe — it still does.

Look, when you deglaze a skillet full of caramelized onions and garlic with white wine, add littleneck clams to the mix until they pop open, reduce the liquid with cream until it’s a thick clam-infused glaze, which you’ll slather all over pizza dough before it goes into the inferno — you know amazing things are about to happen.

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PIZZA with LITTLENECK CLAMS, PARSLEY & CHILIES* 
inspired by Franny’s Brooklyn

dough for 4 twelve-inch pies, 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
crushed red chili flakes
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.

*Confession: I was so eager to serve these pies piping hot that I forgot to add the red chili flakes. Don’t do that.

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