For the Pizza dough
1 kilo of flour (Or, "As much flour as needed"]
2 tablespoons salt
4 to 6 cups tepid water [Or, "As much as needed"]
1 cup of boiled potatoes (sieved)
1 packet of traditional Fleischmann's dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons or 8g) and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar added to the "proofing"
Ingredients for flavoring the pizza (Ideally made the day before)
First choice: 1/2 pound fresh pork meat that is deemed too fatty to be included in the making of Italian sausages (The pork meat is then fried and the fat or lard is rendered and later strained, the meat that is left over after the fat is strained are the "ciccioli" and these are then used to flavor the pizza dough). The amount of fried and strained "ciccioli" should measure about 3/4 cup.*
Second choice: 1/2 pound fresh pork belly [fresh panchetta], its skin removed and cut into bite size pieces (After the panchetta pieces are fried and their fat strained, they should measure about 3/4 cup).
Seasonings for the pizza topping
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest (optional)
Crisco (lard) for greasing aluminum baking pan
* N.B. Prior to World War II, the word, "ciccioli" in the Molisan countryside was a generic term to describe "bite-sized pork pieces" -- the pieces could come from the pork belly [panchetta] or from from the pork shoulder which was often made to make sausages. A case in point -- "cavetelli con rapini e ciccioli" uses fresh pork belly (panchetta) and not pork shoulder and/or sausage meat.
o Place the yeast in a cup of tepid water, add half a teaspoon of sugar, stir, and then let it rest for about 10 minutes. If the mixture bubbles up, then the yeast is proofed and ready to be used to make the dough.
o Place the kilo of flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the bowl. Add the boiled sieved potatoes, the yeast and two cups of tepid water. Mix well. Slowly add more water, until the dough has the right consistency (If the dough gets too sticky, add more flour; alternatively if the dough gets too hard, add more water...).
o Place the pizza dough on floured wooden board [Or in a Kitchen Aid) and knead for about twenty minutes to half an hour, until the dough is shiny and malleable.
o Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a large container and cover (Do not flour the container, grease it if you like, but avoid flouring it as it will destroy the smooth consistency of the dough). Let the dough rest for about four hours or until it doubles in size.
o Ideally, one makes the "ciccioli" the day before one makes the pizza as it might be a whole-day affair to render the fat (sogna) from the meat and retain the remaining meat pieces (ciccioli). The "ciccioli" come from the part of the pork meat that was deemed too fatty to use to make Italian pork sausages. To make the "ciccioli" one has to render the lard ("sogna") from the fatty pork sausage meat on very low heat (Can take hours). After the fat has been rendered, the mixture is placed through a strainer, the tiny bits of meat that remain on the top of the stainer are the "ciccioli" and these are later incorporated into the pizza dough [about 3/4 cup]. Salt the ciccioli.
o Alternatively, if one does not have access to fresh sausage meat (that is, the excess sausage meat that is deemed too fatty to include into the sausage) one can use fresh panchetta (NOT panchetta that is sold as a cold cut in grocery stores but fresh panchetta (pork belly) that is sold at Italian butcher shops!). The skin of the panchetta is cut off and discarded. The remaining panchetta is cut into very small pieces and then they are fried on low heat, until most of the fat is rendered. After the panchetta pieces are fried and very crispy, strain the fat, reserving both the fried meat pieces and the rendered fat.
o Salt the ciccioli.
o Add orange zest (optional). P.S. My Zia Rosina adds orange zest, but my mother does not.
o Cool the ciccioli.
o After the pizza dough has doubled in size, knead the dough and then stretch it out. Spread the ciccioli, the tiny bits of fried pork pieces whose fat has been rendered and strained [about 3/4 cup] on the stretched-out dough, and then roll it up as if it were a jelly roll.
o Place the rolled-up dough in a bowl, cover and let it rest for about 2 hours.
o After the dough has rested and increased substantially in volume, remove from bowl.
o Preheat oven to 400 F degrees.
o Stretch out the dough in a large aluminum baking sheet oiled with Crisco (lard). P.S. Prior to World War II cooks obviously used the rendered pork fat (sogna) to grease their pan. In North America some cooks continued to use the home-made pork fat (my Zia Teresa did) while other cooks (e.g., my mother) preferred to use store-bought Crisco.
o Grease the top of the pizza with the rendered fat (sogna) or with Crisco (optional). P.S. My Zia Teresa did grease the top of the pizza, but my Zia Annunziatina did not grease the top of the pizza. As for my own mother, she rarely did this style of pizza, claiming my aunts did a better job, so why should she bother to do it?
o Bake the pizza in a 400 F degree oven for about about 20 to 30 minutes or until the pizza dough is golden.
o Serve warm or at room temperature.
My late aunt, Zia Nunziatina, used to make the best "pizza di ciccicoli" on the planet. My mother claims she can't do it, only my late aunt was able to get it right. I tried to make it, but it didn't taste nearly as good as what my late aunt used to do. Prior to World War II "pizza di ciccicoli" was generally made in December and January after the pig killing when fresh pork was available. Nowadays, it is made any old time. To make a really good pizza di ciccicoli one has to ask an Italian butcher to give you the excess pork meat that is deemed too fatty to include in the making of sausages. Generally, this excess fatty meat is given to customers who buy sausage meat (I don't think it's something that is sold separately). It requires a great deal of time and effort to make "ciccicoli." It can be an all day affair. Back in the 1990s when my aunt was still alive I had no idea how much work this pizza took to make. Often, my aunt would offer me the pizza she made, and stupid me, I told her I didn't want any, foolishly thinking it would do me no good (Certainly wouldn't do my hips any good). Now I regret it. Ironically, young people assume old people enjoy walking down memory lane, little do they know that old people often avoid walking down memory lane because on the lane little sharp objects can be found, and if one steps on them, it hurts. Photo: Mary Melfi.