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POTATO FOCACCIA FROM TRIGGIANO

Nancy Harmon Jenkins

HOME > BREAD & PIZZA
Focaccia di patate
Puglia
Preparation - Medium
Two 11 - X - 13 - inch focaccias, Prep: 45, Rise and Bake: 1:30

This "focaccia," of course, does not fit my earlier description of a Pugliese focaccia as a double-crusted savory pie. But focaccia is what Rosa Granozio and her daughter Nicla call this, and focaccia it will be. In any case, it's more like what's called focaccia in the rest of Italy, and in America.

Rosa and Nicla think nothing of whipping up a potato focaccia at the last minute for supper or an afternoon snack. They made this for me one late afternoon at Pino's house when they dropped in for tea.

This is a very wet dough; the potato helps keep it soft. The point here is to be able to taste the flavor of the dough rather than drown it in the topping. You may be tempted to add more tomatoes and mozzarella, but try to resist, at least the first time you make it.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 large potato, about 1/2 pound
  • 1 teaspoon dried yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt, plus more to top the focaccia
  • 2 1/2 cups very warm water
  • 5 to 6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus a little more to oil the pans
  • 1/2 pound freshly made mozzarella, sliced
  • 1/2 pound fresh ripe tomatoes, sliced; or 6 to 8 canned whole tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
  • Dried oregano to taste
OO Mixing bowl, two rectangular pizza pans, each about 11 by 13 inches.

METHOD:
  1. BOIL the potato until it is very soft, peel it, and mash it while still hot in a large bowl.
  2. PUT the yeast and salt in a 2 cup measuring cup and add very warm water to make 2 cups. Mix together until the yeast and salt are thoroughly dissolved in the water.
  3. SET aside about 3/4 cup of flour for the bread board and pour the rest of the flour on top of the potato. Start mixing the potato and flour together, using your hands, adding about 3/4 cup liquid at a time, first the water with the yeast dissolved in it, and then plain warm water until you have added about 2 1/2 cups of liquid in all. When all the water has been mixed in, you will have a very wet and sticky dough, but never mind.
  4. SPREAD the reserved flour on a bread board and start to work the dough vigorously on the board, incorporating all the flour on the board. Do not add more flour, however, even though you may be tempted to do so-the dough is meant to be very loose and wet. Keep kneading the dough vigorously until it holds together nicely and has developed a soft, elastic, but compact consistency-like a baby's bottom, Nicla says. When the dough is ready, place it in a clean, dry bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside in a warm place to rise for at least 1 hour, or until it has doubled in bulk.
  5. PREHEAT the oven to 500 degrees F. Use a little olive oil to oil two rectangular pizza pans, each about 11 by 13 inches. Punch the dough down and divide it in half Roll each dough half into a rough rectangle, then spread the halves in the prepared pans so that they reach all corners. Over the top of each rectangle distribute slivers of mozzarella and the tomatoes, bearing in mind that a Pugliese focaccia is very restrained compared to an American version. Sprinkle the focaccie with crumbled dried oregano and sea salt, then drizzle with an abundance of olive oil-at least 1/4 cup on each focaccia.
  6. PLACE the focaccie in the preheated oven and bake until the dough is crisp and the top is melting with cheese and tomato, about 15 minutes.

Source:
Flavors of Puglia
Nancy Harmon Jenkins
Broadway Books

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