Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Sicilian Christmas Pizza (Sfincione) – Finally, a Pizza with More Carbs

Topping a thick-crust pizza with breadcrumbs might sound like a strange idea, but it really is the secret sauce behind this Sicilian Christmas Pizza. Well, that and the actual secret sauce. Speaking of secrets, whether you tell your friends and family that the sauce is made with onions and anchovies is your business, but if you think that’ll turn them off, then maybe keep it to yourself, at least until they realize it’s one of the most delicious things they’ve ever had. Hey, all’s fair in love, war, and pizza.

Besides the crispy, cheesy, crumb topping, and super savory sauce, the other secret to this amazing pizza is the extremely wet and sticky dough. You could use a more standard pizza dough for this, but it won’t be the same experience. One reason we can get away with putting breadcrumbs on the top is the contrast between that texture, and the feather-light, spongy crust. Besides, if you use enough oil on your fingers, it’s really not that hard to work with anyway.

As usual, I’m not claiming any kind of authenticity here, so I don’t feel bad that I didn’t use casciocavallo, which is the traditional cheese for this pizza. I ended up using mozzarella, aged provolone, and pecorino, which I think work very well on this, but having said that, use whatever melty cheeses you like. The same goes for adding other toppings, but I can’t imagine anything making this any more amazing that it already is. Either way, whether it’s for Christmas, or another occasion, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for a 18" X 13" Sheet Pan:

For the dough:
2 cups warm water (105 to 110 F.)
1 package dry active yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, or more as needed to achieve a very wet, sticky dough

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large yellow onions, diced
1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
9 oil-packed anchovy fillets
1 1/2 cups marinara or tomato sauce
1/4 cup water to rinse sauce container
salt to taste
Note: For best results, sauce should be highly seasoned

For the crumb topping:
3/4 cup fine plain dry bread crumbs
1 cup finely grated pecorino cheese
1 tablespoon anchovy oil
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the pizza:
3 ounces grated mozzarella
3 ounces aged provolone cheese

- Bake at 400 F. for about 35 minutes (go as long as you can without the crumbs on top burning, so that the crust cooks as much as possible)
-- For best results, slide cooked pizza on to a cooling rack to prevent the bottom from getting soggy. 
--- If bottom gets soggy, pizza slices can be reheated in a dry pan, which will crisp up the crust nicely.


Unknown said...

i think Chuck Mangione would probably agree that one "Feels So Good" after eating one of Chef John's creations. Mark Perrin

Unknown said...

Got to try this! What size is the baking sheet? A half sheet?

Unknown said...

Looks great. What is the size of the sheet pan you used?

Unknown said...

Would I actually need the stand mixer to form the dough or can I get away with mixing it manually through some means? If it is a traditional recipe I'm sure they were doing it before stand mixers and there should be some technique for doing so out there right?

Billy in Seattle said...

Hi Chef John - can you tell us what size sheet pan you used for this?

TK said...

What size is the over tray?

Tim Lantz said...

Wow, I can't wait to try this out. Chef John, you truly are the Francisco Pizarro of the bizarro cuisine.

Chris K. said...

Future Chef John action figure should be holding the freakishly small wooden spoon!

pakmanmanc said...

ohhh chef John!! this is one of my favourite dishes to make. love this simplified version! Will be making it over Christmas for sure

karl j. seely said...

how about truffled pecorino, as long as we're being inauthentic

Unknown said...

Ciao Chef, as a typical italian food lover i suggest you to try our southern "CALZONE" we use to have for diner or lunch on 8th Cec or 24th Dec. I found a recipe on line


that it's pretty similar to that one my grandma use to make every year

Marco said...

Could you please give the ingredients by weight?

Paul VanMetre said...

What size sheet pan is that you are using for this?

TK said...

What size pan are you using?

Silviu said...

I made this recipe today. It's interesting. I had a few problems with the recipe:
1. the dough ended up a lot more wet than in the video, despite having used the exact same amounts. Flour and water are of course different here than yours. I didn't realize how much wetter my dough was until it was too late (dough had already risen). This probably led to the next problem:
2. It stuck to the pan. Not uniformly, only in a few spots - but where it stuck, it stuck hard. This led to loss of structural integrity when de-panning despite a lot of work with an offset spatula trying to pry it loose from underneath. The pan was clean before using it, and I put in it more oil than in the recipe, almost half a cup. Still it stuck.
So I didn't end up with a nice pizza sheet as in the video, but with several ragged-ended pieces. The taste is very good, but it doesn't look good enough to serve at a party due to loss of structural integrity.
Probably need to use extra flour next time.

JadedOne said...

Hi Chef! Can the dough be made using a food processor? I don't have a stand mixer.

Danny said...

Chef John! I have an interesting food wish for you! I recently had an Item as a local restaurant called “Pig Wings” and they were absolutely fantastic. Pig wings are pork shanks. I would love to know your twist on these delicious and new food item. It was served in a “Long hot BBQ sauce (but wasn’t ver saucey, which worked nicely) and on the side had some kind of blue cheese dip mixes with “basil Parmesan gremolata.” Crazy I know.

Shawn Hennessey said...

Looks really good I’m making my sauce now! I noticed you did not let the yeast activate can you School me on this? Thank you!

Unknown said...

This is definitely going to be part of my Christmas!
Keep the anchovies secret!

Unknown said...

Is it possible the measurements are a bit off here? My dough was initially far drier than the appearance in video.

Rik said...

Made this last night. And I acknowledge the fenomenale texture of the light crust and the crispy topping. I still prefer Napolitan style pizza, but since that can't be made as good with a home oven as with a proper pizza oven, I might be using this technique more often. At least one more time since I wrongfully thought I had some ansjovies lying around, so I will have to make this again with the ansjovies.

Chef John said...

For those asking, the pan is 18" X 13" which is a standard half-sheet pan. I've added that to the ingredients list as well.

Chris L said...

I made this last night and not only is it my new favourite pizza, it is in my top 5 favourite foods! In my opinion, it is at its best at room temp. Though it’s great hot or cold as well. Chef John was right, everyone needs to try this recipe.

Number 1 Hunna said...

Thanks Chef John!

Mike said...

Made it this afternoon.


Unknown said...

Lovely. Thanks, Chef John. I had never heard of this and had a fun time making it.

Did you sift the 4 2/3 c flour? I did not and found my dough was too dense. Simply added more water, but wound up with too much dough in the end. As I explore more of your recipes, it would be great to know if you tend to share flour measurements sifted or unsifted by default. Thanks!

I added truffle oil to the bread crumbs for some extra flair. I think I may go lighter on the bread crumbs overall next go around for a thinner crispy topping like with your amazing mac and cheese.

Unknown said...

What a fantastic recipe! Once I converted everything to metric and messed up the first dough it turned out fantastic. I have always been looking for a dough like this, unbeknownst to myself, and this has just risen to one of the family favourites. I don't want to leave without mentioning the sauce....a tour we force in the world of tomatoes based pizza sauces. I cannot speak highly enough of this recipe and wow encourage

Brandon said...

Hey chef John!

I've made a ton of your recipes, and usually the directions and amounts are spot on, but I think this one is a bit off. 2c water and 4-2/3c flour made a pretty stiff dough that seemed like regular pizza dough. I kept adding water till it resembled yours and I think I added over 1/2c of extra water before it was about right.

Anyway, it's in the oven now and looks amazing! Thanks for the recipe. Merry Christmas!

Ratatouille2020 said...

Wow, this recipe just transported me back to my Sicilian grandparents' house on Long Island over 55 years ago. Back then they draped the anchovies all over the pizza and they went to town on it, washing it down with a bottle ( or two) of inexpensive chianti or dry red wine.
I actually have that same square pizza pan. I never used it but will try this Christmas pizza recipe as an homage to them.
I measured the one my grandfather had made and its dimensions are: 17.5"L x 14.5"W x 1.5"D.
Thanks Chef John for your rekindling of the childhood memory of my Christmas meals with my parents, siblings and wonderful grandparents this season!
Buon Natale!

Daniel Carter said...

First time commenter: Man you’re Great~ from your voice, to your recipes, & all the humor in between! Thank You! :)

Unknown said...

Just made this recipe and it was wonderful. Thank you Chef John and have a lovely Christmas. Looking forward to the leftovers.

Unknown said...

Made this last night, it was amazing! No stand mixer, so did it by hand, good workout �� Thank you Chef John and Merry Christmas!

Cliverton said...

Help please.
I need the weight of the flour for a good starting point.
"This is called cooking" is good for me until it's baking.
I'd like to try this for New Year's Eve.

oogiesmuncher said...

For everyone asking, I don't have a stand mixer so I used my hands/fist to mix the dough. Turned out perfectly. don't overthink it.

oogiesmuncher said...

For everyone asking, I don't have a stand mixer so I used my hands/fist to mix the dough. Turned out perfectly. don't overthink it.

kittychatalot said...

Just made it. Came out great. My light eater hubby has had three pieces!

Brynja said...

NEEDED to make this but there were no anchovies, whole style. Used anchovy fish sauce. Yes, indeed, this concoction is delicious!

Unknown said...

Made this tonight and it was one of the most delicious things I have eaten in a while. It took a bit longer than 35 min for me, I wound up moving the pan to the bottom rack for an additional 15 min to crisp up the bottom. If I make this again, I'll probably cook it a level down from the middle rack as I think that would work out even better. Thx for this amazing recipe!

Unknown said...

Hate to confess, but I used store-bought pizza dough out of laziness. However, the results were still great and my grandmother loved the pizza (the 90-pound matriarch shocked our family and ate 2 large slices). The anchovy pizza sauce is really what makes this dish shine. I will be using this special sauce recipe for other dishes in the future:)

Unknown said...

So I'm one of many people who swing gluten free. I wonder if this recipe for the pizza dough would come out the same with gluten free flour

Sophia4 said...

For those who don't have a stand mixer, you need to make a foccacia dough which can be kneaded by hand, instead of the sticky runny dough in the recipe. Then you can knead the gluten strands into submission and have the same light and fluffy base as the recipe.
We tried making the original dough without the mixer and it didn't work well. The focaccia dough worked perfectly though, looked just like the video!

Unknown said...

Made it. Love it! My go to party app when I’m invited somewhere!