Linguica Pizza

pizza1I grew up in Gloucester, MA, at the tip of Cape Ann on Massachusetts’ North Shore, then mostly a commercial fishing town and a summertime escape for wealthy Bostonians. Like many fishing towns or villages in New England, Gloucester had, and still has, a large community of Portuguese immigrants and their Portuguese-American descendants.  If you grew up in Gloucester, or New Bedford, Fall River or even East Cambridge, you already know the wonder that is linguica (pronounced “lin-GWEE-sa”).  If you did not grow up thinking the whole world ate linguica & beans, instead of hot dogs & beans, let me tell you: linguica is worthing searching out.  It is most similar to chorizo, but with a different blend of spices; it is difficult for me to explain the difference in taste to people who ask.  Maybe it just reminds me of home, but linguica is usually so much better than chorizo to me, which generally seems a little bland and a little too fatty.

Sunday night Pizza Night was a tradition in our family, and it nearly always included linguica pizza, something you just don’t find in most of the rest of the world.  The pizza places changed over the years:  Sal’s, Larry’s, Sebastian’s; but linguica pizza remains a staple in Gloucester, and there are times when nothing else will do.  I have not found a good source of linguica in New York, so I order mine online from Gaspar’s; probably not the most authentic recipe, but what I grew up with, and local, at least, to the Northeast (and they ship!).

So if you are looking for something just a little bit different, search out some linguica and make some linguica pizza today. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

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Linguica Pizza

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 recipe Quick(er) Whole Grain Pizza dough (I substituted 1 cup white AP flour for 1 cup of white wheat AP flour)
  • 1 lb linguica
  • olive oil (I used basil-infused extra-virgin Kalamata olive oil)
  • about 1 oz parmesean or other hard grating cheese, such as local Sprout Creek Barat or Ouray
  • 4 – 5 tbsp basil pesto
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (I used Tomato Sauce with Fresh Basil)
  • 4 – 6 oz ricotta cheese (mine was sliced frozen and scattered on the pizza prior to cooking)
  • 4 – 6 oz mozzarella (also frozen and thinly sliced prior to cooking)
  • 6 small plum tomatoes (also frozen), sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • cornmeal and/or extra flour, for sprinkling

METHODS

  1. Make the dough.  Because I was short on time, I scavenged the last remanants of some all-purpose white flour out of the back of the pantry and substituted it for white wheat flour (about 7/8 cup). Processed white flour tends to decrease kneading time and rising time, as well as making a 2nd rise unneccessary and making the final dough a bit easier to handle.  While all of these are handy timesavers, there is a sacrifice in flavor, so if you have the extra time, make the Quick(er) Pizza Dough recipe as it stands, with 100% whole grains.  It is worth it. 
  2. If you have a pizza stone, pre-heat the oven as high as it will go; 550 degrees F in my case.  Allow the dough to rise somewhere near the oven (but not on top of it, as the dough may get too hot).  If you do not have a stone, you can wait until about 20-30 minutes prior to cooking the pizza to pre-heat the oven.
  3. Slice the linguica into thin rounds and brown, over medium heat, with a tiny bit of olive oil, in a large saute pan.  Do not crowd the pan.  Remove from the pan once browned and set aside.
  4. Prepare the mise en place. Grate (or slice) the cheeses as necessary. Set out the cheesse, sauces, herbs & spices, olive oil, linguica and extra flour and cornmeal in preparation for assembling the pizza.
  5. Once your dough has about doubled in volume, turn it out onto a floured board. (If time is no issue, you can punch down the dough, reform into a loose ball, and allow it to rise for a second time.  Doing so adds a bit more flavor and complexity to your dough).  Cut the dough in half, and form each half into a ball.  Cover one ball with a damp cloth, while you form a pizza shell with the other ball.  
  6. Form the pizza shell.  Cover a pizza peel with a piece of parchment, and sprinkle the parchment liberally with cornmeal or flour. (Or, if you do not have a pizza stone, sprinkle cornmeal or flour on a sheet or pizza pan).  Flatten the dough ball into a rough circle shape and, holding the circle of dough vertically in front of you, turn clockwise, holding the edges of the dough, allowing the weight of the dough to stretch itself into a larger circle (like you are turning the steering wheel of a car).  You can also hold the circle flat in front of you (like a serving tray) and, using two fists, stretch the dough gently outwards with your knuckles, rotating the dough as you pull and stretch.  This dough will be more fragile than a traditional white flour dough, so it may end up being a bit thicker than you are used to, or a more rustic shape.  Just go with it, and if you get any tears in the middle, simply fold a piece over dough over itself to repair the tear.  The beauty of homemade pizza is that it is not only OK, it is fabulous when it looks homemade!  Transfer the formed shell to the parchment-covered pizza peel.
  7. Assemble & cook the pizza. Sprinkle about 1 tbsp of olive oil on the formed pizza shell, and spread over the surface of the dough with your fingers or the back of a spoon.  Sprinkle grated parmesean cheese over the shell.  Then add sauce (either pesto or tomato, I made one of each), ricotta, mozzarella, tomato slices, linguica, basil and spices.  If you wish, brush a little more oil along the edges of the pizza dough and sprinkle with grated hard cheese.  Slide the pizza off the peel and onto your pizza stone (the parchment makes this a breeze), or transfer the pan to the pre-heated oven.  Cook for 7 minutes, or until the dough edges have puffed up and browned and the cheese is bubbling and starting to carmelize.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 3 – 5 minutes before slicing.  Assemble & cook the next pizza to feed a crowd, or for lunch or a quick dinner tomorrow!

Yields two 10 to 12-inch pizzas.

pizza2OPTIONS

  1. Well, it’s pizza.  Obviously the options are nearly endless.  Any number of frozen or fresh veggies are good; just avoid ones that release too much water on cooking (fresh spinach or leafy greens should be dry-sauteed for a few minutes to release excess water; same goes for large slices of beefsteak tomato). Linguica is so flavorful that it does not need a lot in the way of accompaniment. 

STORE

Keeps well refrigerated for up to 5 days.  Pizza also freezes well for up to 2 months.

SEASON

Year-round, but mostly I make pizza when it is cold outside; who wants to crank up the oven to 550 degrees in July?

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4 comments

  1. Portions of California have/had Portugese immigrants and in those areas one can often find local AND chain pizza joints offering linguicia as a topping.

    My favorite, by far, is those using crumbled vice sliced linguicia.

    Pre-cook the linguicia then crumble it, akin to bacon bits.

    So incredibly yummy I need a bib to collect my non-stop salivating.

    Sadly, I now dwell among the culturally backwards heathenish hillbilly horde of the Ozark Plateau area; a dreary place with a sub-par populace who view possum roadkill as haute’ cuisine and a suitable lawn ornament as a junk car perched atop concrete blocks.

  2. Looking for inspiration about what to cook on this cold January day, and I come across this. I just moved to the South Shore, but I’m already quite familiar with linguica (Hawaii has a decent-sized Portuguese population). I have some in my fridge now. And will be making this for lunch tomorrow.

  3. Sara

    My husband was born and raised in Gloucester, and linguica pizza ranks high on his list of comfort food (along with caldo verde, which I make for him every New Year’s Eve). The pizza is a must-have whenever we visit his family, which we only get to do every other year or so. He definitely wants linguica pizza more often than that. This, in his opinion, was perfect and fulfilled all his nostalgic needs. Our two-year old loved it too!

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