Cal Italia Pizza is an AMAZING 4-cheese pizza with Prosciutto and Fig Jam that won the Food Network Pizza Champions Challenge. It will Rock Your World!
I will always remember in 2006 watching the World Champion Pizza Chefs compete in the Food Network Pizza Champions Challenge. They were attempting to toss, roll and spin their way into the Guinness Book of World Records. A fourth competition tests their pizza-making skills, as they each have only 10 minutes to put together a gourmet pizza using none of America’s top 10 ingredients-no pepperoni, no sausage, you get the idea.
Over the course of a very grueling day, they competed for three Guinness World Records in front of a big audience and a panel of famous judges. Tony Gemignani*, a California chef, won two of the world-record rounds: Biggest Pizza Continuously Spinning for Two Minutes, and Most Consecutive Rolls Across the Shoulders in 30 Seconds. Round three was the cooking challenge. Tony combined two of his favorite pizza worlds, California and Italy. He grabbed five totally traditional Italian ingredients: prosciutto, fig jam, Gorgonzola, Asiago, and balsamic vinegar. They’re classic, but you’d never find them on a pizza in Italy, at least not all together. But to Californians, this combination makes perfect sense as pizza toppings, and it made sense to the judges too. He won the cooking contest and the Cal Italia Pizza made history.
I just had to try this incredible pizza after watching the famed judges literally drool and close their eyes as they savored every bite. Fortunately, I discovered that Tony’s pizza restaurant was only 20 minutes from me. You had to call ahead to make sure they had all of the ingredients to make it. Luckily, one day they did. Well, I will never forget taking that first bite. I could see why it won the World Championship that year. It was absolutely the best pizza I had ever tasted, and I LOVE pizza. I am usually a pepperoni, sausage, mushroom, red sauce kind of girl, and I don’t usually go for very exotic toppings. But this pizza brought me to my knees. You just HAVE to try it, trust me!
*Tony Gemignani is a well-regarded chef who has frequently appeared on the Food Network, The Travel Channel and many other networks. He has not only been making pizzas for over 20 years, but is also the chef and owner of eight restaurants and the US Ambassador of Neapolitan Pizza to the city of Naples, Italy. Tony is the proprietor of the International School of Pizza in San Francisco, where he certifies chefs from around the world.
- 1 ball homemade Pizza Dough (recipe below)
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons flour, for dusting
- 2 ounce piece Asiago cheese, cold, shaven in thin slices using a vegetable peeler
- 6 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (1½ cups)
- 1½ ounces Gorgonzola cheese, broken into small pieces
- 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely shredded
- 3 tablespoons fig jam, preferably Dalmatia brand
- 3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto (about 6 slices), torn into pieces
- Special equipment:
- 1 pizza baking stone or a 13" x 18" inverted rimmed baking sheet
- Pizza Dough-makes 2 crusts:
- 3½ cups bread flour, plus more for rolling
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 envelope instant dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1½ cups water, 110°F
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons
- Preheat oven to 500°F. Place the pizza stone (or baking sheet) in the oven while it preheats.
- Remove the pizza dough ball (recipe below) from the refrigerator and leave wrapped at room temperature until the dough warms to 65°F.
- Place the vinegar in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Once steam is rising from the surface, reduce the heat to low to keep the vinegar below a simmer. No bubbles should break through the surface. Watch carefully. If the lowest setting is still too hot, place the pan over a diffuser. Once the vinegar has reduced by three-fourths, remove it from the heat. The glaze can be stored in a covered container at room temperature for several months.
- Dust your work surface with flour, and then move the dough to the surface and dust the top with some additional flour.
- Roll out the dough into a round 13 inch diameter.
- Take the preheated pizza stone out of the oven and carefully slide the dough onto the unit.
- Quickly place the shaven pieces of Asiago cheese over the surface of the dough, leaving a ¾ inch border. Sprinkle the fresh mozzarella evenly over the Asiago. Bake for 7 minutes.
- Take the pizza out of the oven and sprinkle the Gorgonzola pieces and Parmesan cheese evenly over the top. Drape the prosciutto slices so when it’s cut, each piece will get some. Spoon small dollops (¼ teaspoon each) of fig jam around the pizza also. Bake for 3 to 4 minutes more or until the bottom is browned and crisp and the top is golden brown.
- Transfer the pizza to a cutting board and cut into 6 pieces. To finish, squeeze a thin spiral of balsamic glaze onto the pizza.
- Pizza Dough:
- Combine the bread flour, sugar, yeast and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and combine. While the mixer is running, add the water and 2 tablespoons olive oil and beat until the dough forms into a ball. If the dough is sticky, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together in a solid ball. If the dough is too dry, add additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead into a smooth, firm ball.
- Grease a large bowl with the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, add the dough, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in a warm area to let it double in size, about 1 hour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cover each with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let them rest for 10 minutes. You can refrigerate the plastic wrapped dough balls until ready to use.
And, if you love breadsticks with your Pizza, please try our Garlic Butter Breadsticks! And for other DELICIOUS Pizza recipes, please try our Chicago Deep Dish Pizza, Skillet Breakfast Pizza, Mini Pizzas and Pies, Biscuit Calzone or Brownie Fruit Pizza to name a few!