Every week, Yahoo Food spotlights a cookbook that stands out from all the rest. The week’s cookbook is Beer Bites: Tasty Recipes and Perfect Pairings for Brew Lovers by Christian DeBenedetti and Andrea Slonecker (Chronicle Books). DeBenedetti wrote The Great American Ale Trail, and is the founder of Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery. Slonecker is a food stylist and recipe editor, as well the author of Pretzel Making at Home and Eggs on Top. Read more about Yahoo Food’s Cookbook of the Week here.
Photograph by John Lee
Brussels Sprouts and Taleggio Pizza with Melting Speck
American Pale Ale
Pizza may eternally duel Bratwurst for the title of most obvious beer companion, but for the dedicated home connoisseur throwing a pairing party, it’s not as easy as it might seem: Tomatoes, especially, tend to wreak havoc when paired with beer. But this rustic, tomato-less pizza topped with earthy Brussels sprouts; funky, ripe-tasting Taleggio; and slightly smoky cured speck is a delicious match for beer — ideally, we thought, with American pale ale, a drier version of English pale ale. This style has a bright note of grapefruit rind, a touch of pine, and a lingering bitterness from American hops.
There are many great versions of this clean, orange-hued ale, led by the classic Sierra Nevada pale ale. On a smaller scale, Vermont’s smallish but acclaimed Hill Farmstead Brewery excels in the style, with several rotating versions including the sought-after Edward.
1 pound/455 g pizza dough, homemade or store-bought, at room temperature
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
5 ounces/140 g Taleggio cheese, cut into small cubes
3½ ounces/100 g Brussels sprouts, very thinly sliced
Pinch of fine sea salt
6 paper-thin slices speck or prosciutto
Position a rack 4 inches/10 cm from the top heating element if you have an electric oven, or 8 inches/20 cm for gas. Place a pizza stone on the rack. Preheat the oven as high as it goes, 500° to 550°F/260° to 290°C, for about 1 hour to heat the stone.
Just before shaping and topping the pizza, switch the oven to the broil setting. Have all of the toppings prepared.
On a lightly floured work surface, pat the dough down and stretch it into a fat disk. Use your fingers and palms to continue pulling it wider until it’s thin enough to pick up and rotate over your knuckles, gently pulling the dough and letting gravity stretch it to a large, very thin oval or rectangular shape with thicker edges. There should be some areas in the center that are so thin the light shines through. Don’t be meticulous about making it perfect; leave some bubbles where the dough will blister in the oven, and it’s totally okay to have areas where the dough is thicker or thinner. Just be sure to patch any holes.
Place the dough on a lightly floured pizza peel or rimless baking sheet as close to the edge as possible and quickly get to work on topping the pizza (if it’s left on the peel too long it will become difficult to slide off). Add toppings in this order: a drizzle of olive oil; the garlic, cheese, and Brussels sprouts; and salt. Drizzle the top with a little more oil for good measure.
Once the toppings are added, immediately slide the pizza off the peel and onto the hot stone using swift, forward-and-back jerking motions. (This could take some practice if you haven’t done it before. Basically, you want to position the pizza directly over the stone where you want it to land and then swiftly jerk the peel out from underneath it, like that old tablecloth trick where the plates and glasses remain in place. It may take a couple of jerks to release it.)
Broil the pizza until the crust is crisp on the bottom and blistered on top, and the Brussels sprouts are nicely charred at the edges, 5 to 7 minutes. Use the peel to rotate the pizza once about halfway through for even cooking. When the pizza is done, the crust should feel crisp when you maneuver it with the peel.
Transfer the pizza to a cutting board. While it’s piping hot, overlap rows of the sliced speck to cover the entire surface of the pizza; the fat will gloriously melt in. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.
Our Recommended Brews:
Pale Ale Sierra Nevada / Pale 31 Firestone Walker / Edward Hill Farmstead / Alpha King Three Floyds / Daisy Cutter Half Acre / Invasion Pale Ale Cigar City
Reprinted with permission from Beer Bites: Tasty Recipes and Perfect Pairings for Brew Lovers by Christian DeBenedetti and Andrea Slonecker (Chronicle Books).
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