This year, Forno Bravo celebrates its 10th anniversary. In a decade, we have helped over 10,000 families and restaurants install and come to enjoy authentic Italian wood-fired cooking. (We aren’t up to 10,000 oven sales yet, but we are well over 10,000 ovens when you include customers who built the Pompeii Oven.) See the article to the right for a little history on how Forno Bravo came to be. Thanks to all of you who are part of the Forno Bravo family and the larger wood-fired community. Here’s to 10 more years!
Also included in this month’s newsletter is some background on the much-loved San Marzano tomato. With warmer temperatures, we expect many of you will be hosting some outdoor pizza parties. Find out below why this tomato is the perfect start to the perfect pizza.
To round out this issue of the Wood-Fired Newsletter, Peter Reinhart, our Pizza Quest host, shares a new webisode from the Basta series, and Community Cookbook chef Dan Compton passes on a recipe for braised chicken that makes for a satisfying, unfussy meal.
P.S. Some of you know that I was in Boston for the marathon. I’ve written about Boston 2014 on the Wood-Fired Blog. Our thoughts continue to be with those affected by this tragedy.
You Say Tomato…
The San Marzano tomato is Italy’s most famous plum tomato, grown in Campania, the home of pizza, since the Middle Ages. The tomato is prized for its tart flavor, firm pulp, red color, low seed count and easily removed skin. It is widely used in both pizza and pasta, and has become famous around the world as the base for Vera Pizza Napoletana.
These tomatoes are the perfect start to the perfect pizza. The harvest of the San Marzano usually begins in August and continues until the end of September and sometimes later. It is a delicate crop, and mechanization is not used. The labor required to train the vines and the hand-picked harvest lead to an increase in production costs. Still, we think it’s worth it. Take a 28 oz. can of imported San Marzano tomatoes, hit it with a potato masher, and you have the perfect pizza sauce. (Check out our Smash Tomato Sauce.)
You can buy San Marzano tomatoes from the Forno Bravo Store. Compared with some of life’s other luxuries, this is one that comes at an affordable price.
Peter’s Corner: Bruery-Basta Dinner Pairing and Pizza Throw-Down
Peter Reinhart, our Pizza Quest host, baking instructor and baker extraordinaire, shares a new webisode from the Basta series.
After all the prelude webisodes you’ve been watching, things are starting to heat up as we now head into the main story. This segment contains the moment when we threw down the gauntlet and asked Patrick Rue, world-famous brewmeister and owner of The Bruery, not knowing if he’d go for it, if he would be willing to create a beer inspired by a pizza that we would make.
But there’s a terrific discussion that happened first, as you will see, in which Kelly Whitaker and Al Henkin of Basta share their thoughts on pairings for the big Beer Dinner they were hosting, featuring six different Bruery beers. You’ll hear terms like “unfiltered bottle conditioned beer” and “Orchard White with Lavender.” I have to say, it was exciting just being in the middle of it all.
Recipe: Braised Chicken With Bacon, Fingerling Potatoes and Dried Fruit
We hope you enjoy this month's featured recipe from the Forno Bravo Community Cookbook, written by our chef moderator Dan Compton.
- 1 roaster chicken, broken down into 8 pieces
- 1 T vegetable oil
- 8 oz slab bacon, cut into lardons
- 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 C dry white wine
- 3 C good-quality chicken stock, or make your own (instructions at Community Cookbook post)
- 1 1/2 lbs fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
- 1/2 C dried prunes, roughly chopped
- 1/2 C dried apricots, roughly chopped
- 1 T dijon mustard
- 1 T unsalted butter
- 2 T fresh chopped parsley
- salt and black pepper, to taste
In a medium-warm wood oven, heat a roasting pan large enough to hold all the chicken. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add the vegetable oil to the pan and then add the chicken pieces, skin side down. Brown the chicken until golden, then flip over and do the same on the other side. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
Add the bacon lardons to the pan and slowly render until the bacon is browned and crispy. If the bacon has given off a lot of fat, drain off the excess, leaving about 1 tablespoon in the pan. Add the sliced onion to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and sweat, stirring often, until the onions are soft, about 6 minutes. Add the white wine and allow it to reduce by three-quarters.
Once the wine is reduced, add the chicken stock, potatoes, dried fruit and mustard to the pan. Bring to a simmer. Taste the liquid for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Nestle the chicken pieces back into the pan skin side up. Cover the pan with foil and cook for 15 minutes. You want the liquid in the pan to be just simmering. If it is boiling hard, your oven is too hot and your chicken is going to be dry. Try putting the pan on top of a rack so that it’s not in direct contact with the oven floor.
After 15 minutes, remove the foil and check the potatoes for doneness. If they are starting to get tender, remove the foil and allow the braise to cook for another 10-15 minutes, until the potatoes are completely soft. Otherwise, put the foil back on and cook, covered, for another 10 minutes before removing the foil.
When your potatoes and chicken are both tender, remove the pan from the oven. If your braise has a lot of fat floating on the top, use a spoon or small ladle to skim off the excess and discard. Remove the chicken from the pan and stir in the butter and parsley. Put the chicken back, adjust the seasoning, and you’re good to go. Serve over rice or noodles if you wish, or just enjoy your savory-sweet-smoky concoction as is with a nice saison-style beer or grüner veltliner near at hand.