The Racetrack Pizza

We?re off to the races! The racetrack-shaped pizza, that is.

By Barrie Lynn ? The Cheese Impresario

Homemade pizza

I was in Seattle visiting my family when I had the pleasure of enjoying several of Chef Tom Douglas's pizzas at his Serious Pie restaurant. Tom is a hero in the world of food and has a slew of restaurants. I've known Tom for many years and couldn't wait to taste his pizza. What I discovered was that all of Serious Pie's pizzas are made in the shape of a racetrack. So, I came home and tried my hand at this very cool style.

I made two pies and enjoyed drinking Nipozzano Chianti R?fina Riserva DOCG from the beginning, the middle, waiting for the pizza to cook and with my friends when the pizza was served.

Time wasn't on my side so I purchased already made pizza dough. I opened the package and let it rest at room temperature for 20 minutes. Dough is living because it's made with live yeast. It feels just fantastic as you place it on your board and press it a bit with your fingers. I put a mixture of flour and cornmeal down on my board before I started to roll so my pizzas would slide onto the hot pizza stone. I made a rectangle with the dough and began to roll it thin. I leave it thicker on the edges to hold in all that cheese. I kept the racetrack shape of the dough by rounding the corners. I brushed the racetrack shaped pizza dough with a little Tuscan olive oil.

Now for another sip or two of the Nipozzano as a neighbor came in to partake in the pizza fun. To save time, I also used store bought pizza sauce, just plain, no herbs and spooned a light covering over the dough. My neighbor and I grated a mix of Mozzarella, Parmesan, and BellaVitano (one of my Cheese of the Month cheeses) and sprinkled this over the dough. Leave the edges of the racetrack free from cheese. I crushed a little dried Oregano from my niece's garden. I then sprinkled this savory herb over the cheese while enjoying the wine with the fragrances now mingling in my kitchen. Remember, taste is 80% smell.

I made two pizzas, one meatless and one with spicy meat. Pizza is good anytime of year but it's still a little chilly in most parts of the country and that led me to add some spicy meat to one of my pies. I chose Italian spicy turkey sausage. I like taking it out of its casing and saut?ing it in a bit of Italian olive oil. Once it's cooked, place it on paper towels and blot, as you don't want extra fat on your pie. Now scatter the turkey sausage over the cheese and slide your pizza onto the sizzling hot pizza stone. Early on I preheated my oven to 450 degrees and placed my pizza stone in there to get piping hot.

When you execute The Cheese Highway? with your pizza and the Nipozzano, you will taste different flavors while pairing the wine with the plain cheese pizza in contrast to the spicy turkey sausage pizza. Notice which pizza brings out more of the dark fruit in the wine and which one brings forward more of the spiciness.

The pizzas cooked for about 20 minutes...my neighbor and I kept a watch through the window because we didn't want to open the oven door and let out that precious heat if we didn't have to. Most ovens are different temperatures and we weren't about to burn these masterpieces. The cheese was bubbling; the crusts were crisping and it was time to take them out. These beauties rested while I poured the wine for my friends and we toasted to a racetrack pizza success. Enjoy!