Franny's famous clam pizza recipe has shown up on Serious Eats before, but this revamped recipe in the restaurant's new cookbook shows what good a few years of tweaking can do. The concept is the same: steam clams in a wine and garlic broth till they open, reduce the juices, fortify with cream, and use both the clam meat and thick glaze to paint a slowly proofed round of pizza dough. But now the dough recipe has been improved, accompanied by detailed instructions for rolling, topping, and baking the pie. A final stint under the broiler gives the pizza a well-blistered crust, caramelizes the cream glaze, and singes the tips of the clams.
Why I picked this recipe: I am not a particularly confident home pizza maker, but I was drawn to the detailed, conversational instructions here. Plus, clam pizza is not something I eat every day.
What worked: This dough is super easy to work with and produces a well-flavored pizza with a decent balance between the crisp edges and chewy center. The topping was easy to put together, if a bit more time consuming than advertised.
What didn't: If your clams are gritty, you'll end up with sand in the glaze. If you're worried about grittiness, you can soak your clams in cool water for 20 minutes before cooking, or just strain the wine and clam juice mixture through a coffee filter before reducing it.
Suggested tweaks: You could substitute mussels or any other type of clam for the littlenecks called for here. If you don't want to eat four clam pizzas, you can use (or save) the remaining dough base for other toppings and save any extra steamed clams for pasta. The pizza dough can also be frozen after the first proof. Divide into four dough balls as written, wrap tightly in plastic, and freeze for up to 3 months.
Reprinted with permission from Franny's: Simple seasonal Italian by Andrew Feinberg, Francine Stephens, and Melissa Clark. Copyright 2013. Published by Artisan. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- 2 packed teaspoons fresh yeast (10 grams) or 1 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast
- 1 3/4 cups cold water
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1/2 Spanish onion, cut into chunks
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- 1 1/4 cups dry white wine
- 4 1/2 dozen littleneck clams (about 6 pounds), scrubbed well
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- All-purpose flour
- Chili flakes
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
For the dough: If using fresh yeast, mix the water and yeast together in the bowl of a stand mixer until the yeast is dissolved. If using active dry yeast, mix the water and yeast in the bowl and let sit until the yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes.
Using the dough hook, beat in the flour and salt and mix until a smooth, slightly elastic dough forms, 2 to 3 minutes; do not knead. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, turn the dough to coat, cover loosely with plastic, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, and up to 48 hours, to proof.
Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Shape each piece by using the palm of your hand to rotate the dough clockwise until a tight, compact ball has formed. Turn the dough over. Working from the outside in, pinch and twist the edges of the dough into the center to make a very tight ball. Put the dough on a baking sheet and return to the refrigerator to rest for at least 4 hours, and up to 12 hours.
For the pizzas: Preheat the oven to 500°F, with a pizza stone on a rack in the top third of the oven. Let heat for 1 hour. Remove the pizza dough from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before baking.
While the oven heats, place 1/4 cup olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until it is limp, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 7 minutes, until the edges are golden. Add the wine and bring to a simmer. Add the clams, cover the pot, and cook until the clams start to open, about 10 minutes. As they open, transfer them to a large bowl. When all the clams are cooked, simmer the liquid in the pot until it reduces to a thick glaze, about 10 minutes. Add the cream, bring to a simmer, and reduce by a quarter, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and set aside. It thickens as it cools.
Meanwhile, when the clams are cool, pluck out the meat and discard the shells.
Turn a large baking sheet upside down, or use a pizza peel. Dust the surface with flour. Form one piece of the dough into a 12-inch round and set it on the baking sheet or peel.
Working quickly, paint the entire surface of the pizza with one-fourth of the glaze. Scatter the clams over the pizza and sprinkle with chili flakes.
Jiggle the pizza gently on the pan (or peel) to make sure it is not sticking (if it is, loosen it and sprinkle a little more flour under the area where it stuck). Slide the pizza onto the hot stone, making sure to start at the stone’s back end so that the entire pizza will fit on it.
Cook the pizza for 3 minutes. Turn on the broiler. Broil the pizza until golden, crisp, and a bit blistery and charred in places, 2 to 4 minutes (watch it carefully to see that it does not burn). If you don’t have a peel, use tongs to slide the pizza onto a large platter. Drizzle with oil and scatter with one-fourth of the parsley.
Repeat with the remaining dough and toppings.
Andrew’s Note: Finish this pizza with a squeeze of lemon juice. It adds a bright note of acidity that helps cut the richness of the cream.