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!
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 2/3 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.