Saturday, October 20, 2012

Guatemalan Black Bean Pizza

I spent a semester in college studying Spanish in Guatemala. Black beans and hand-pressed tortillas are THE two staple foods, eaten for three meals a day by many people across the country. My favorite preparation of black beans is called "licuados" — a thick paste perfect with eggs or sauteed veggies or ... really anything. We happened to have some leftover chicken around, which made for the perfect Guatemalan-themed pizza.

Chop a small onion and saute until soft and translucent, but not browned. In a blender, process the sauteed onions, 2 cups cooked black beans and 1 garlic clove. Add water or some reserved bean liquid to make a smooth, thick, saucy consistency.

TOPPINGS (layered in this order):
  1. Corn Masa Crust, par-baked
  2. A generous spread of the liquified beans
  3. Queso fresco, grated or chopped into tiny chunks (queso fresco is a white farm cheese available at Hispanic markets and many mainstream grocery stores) 
  4. Grated mozzarella
  5. Cooked, chopped chicken breast
  6. Sprinkle of chopped cilantro

Bake at 450 degrees F for about 8 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the crust begins to brown. ¡Buen provecho!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Corn Masa Crust

As avid Latin American food-eaters (we seek out the best Mexican taco trucks in whatever city we visit), we were pretty excited to run across a corn masa pizza crust recipe in our newly acquired "Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day" cookbook.

Corn masa is the flour used to make tortillas, tamales, arepas, etc. — it's the staple ingredient for all sorts of our favorite foods. In this pizza dough, the masa adds a slight corn flavor and denser texture that is perfect for topping with beans, seasoned meats, and a sprinkle of queso fresco.

  • 1 cup lukewarm water (100 degrees F or less)
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons neutral-flavored oil
  • 1/2 cup corn masa flour (also called masa harina)
  • 1 and 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water. Let stand until frothy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the masa flour, all-purpose flour and salt.
  3. Once the yeast is proofed (aka frothy), stir in the oil and mix in the dry ingredients without kneading the dough. This can be done in a food processor with a dough attachment, a heavy duty stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or using a wooden spoon. It may help to wet your hands and mix in the last bits of flour manually.
  4. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and allow to rest at room temperature for about 2 hours, until the dough rises and collapses (aka flattens on the top).
  5. The dough can be used right away after that initial rise, but it may be easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate it in a lidded, but not airtight, container and use within 10 days or divide it into two balls and freeze for up to 2 weeks. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before use.
  6. When you're ready to make pizza, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. If using a pizza stone, place the stone in the oven for preheating. If using a baking sheet, lightly flour it (but don’t preheat). 
  7. On a well-floured surface, roll out one ball of dough until it is approximately the size of your pizza stone or baking sheet. 
  8. Par-bake the crust until barely brown and rigid, about 3 minutes.
  9. Remove the crust from the oven and let rest on wire racks to avoid sogginess. Top with your favorite toppings and return to the oven for an additional 5-10 minute (depending on toppings), until the cheese is melted and the edges are golden brown.
Recipe yields 2 crusts.

This crust is vegan and I suspect would be pretty easy to make gluten-free by subbing out the all-purpose flour with your favorite blend.