The following I dish I prepared for the Sicilian dinner was very loosely based upon one of the appetizers at La Madia, the best restaurant in Sicily with two Michelin stars.
This is what I wrote about this dish in my review of our dinner at La Madia: “We were thoroughly fooled by this pizza, because we were wondering how we were going to survive 8 courses if they were all going to be this big. It turned out to be very light actually. What looks like melted mozzarella is actually potato mousse. The crust was only a very crispy very thin round of dough, and underneath the ‘cheese’ there was lovely cod smoked on pine wood and some semi-dried tomato. Great flavors and wonderful presentation. 10/10”
The dish I prepared is by no means an attempt at recreating chef Pino Cuttaia’s dish, but it has been heavily inspired by it. My ‘pizza’ was made with hot-smoked halibut, potato mousse, and semi-dried tomatoes. It was more substantial than at La Madia and I served it as a main course.
I had not planned ahead and made the pizza dough on the same day, which made it difficult to stretch it and so I ended up with pizzas that were smaller than I would have liked. Next time I will make the dough five days in advance, so the gluten will be relaxed and I will be able to make a larger pizza. Something I thought of while I was eating the ‘pizza’, was that it may have been nice to put just a tiny bit of grated parmigiano into the potato ‘cheese’ to give it a fuller taste and just a hint of cheesiness.
This is a really fun dish to fool your dinner guests, and delicious to boot! Thanks to chef Pino Cuttaia of La Madia for this creative idea.
cold-fermented pizza dough, made from 250 grams (1 1/2 cups) of 00 flour, 10 grams of fresh yeast, 1 tsp salt, and 160 ml (2/3 cup) of water
400 grams (.9 lbs) halibut fillet
4 vine tomatoes
400 grams (.9 lbs) floury potatoes
about 250 ml (1 cup) whole milk
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
8 fresh oregano leaves
salt and freshly ground white pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp smoking dust
(optional) 1 Tbsp freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
Take the cold fermented dough out of the refrigerator. Briefly knead it and shape it into a ball. Put the ball of dough in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 2 hours at room temperature.
Meanwhile, peel the potatoes, cut them into pieces, boil them in salted water until soft (about 25 minutes), drain them, and mash them with milk. You are making potato mousse rather than potato puree, so you should use more milk than for puree.
Run the potato mousse through a food mill fitted with a fine sieve to make it completely smooth. If you don’t have a food mill, you can use a sieve and push the potato mousse through the sieve with a spoon.
The potato mousse should have the consistency of melted mozzarella. Stir in more milk if needed. Keep it warm over low heat, stirring now and then. You can add grated parmigiano at this point (optional).
We enjoyed this with an oaked Fiano called “Cometa” from the famous Sicilian winery Planeta. An oaked chardonnay or other oaked dry white would work as well, if it has enough acidity.