Italian pizza meats for an authentic Italian pizza

Nothing makes a pizza more Italian than authentic Italian meats. Since tomatoes and mozzarella are a given, it’s meat pizza toppings like pancetta and prosciutto that can really boost the flavor of an Italian-style pizza.


Not long ago, it wasn’t that easy to find these products. But these days, many grocery stores like Fresh and Easy and Trader Joe’s carry them. So you can make a delicious Italian pizza right at home.

Pancetta, which is often referred to as Italian bacon, is pork belly that has been spiced, salt-cured, and dried for several months. But unlike American bacon, it’s not smoked. In Italy, it’s often rolled and then thinly sliced. In the United States and Britain, it’s often sold diced.


Because pancetta is salty, it’s especially delicious when combined with sweet pizza toppings. Try it with ripe pear or butternut squash.


Prosciutto is uncooked Italian ham. It’s also cured with salt and aged. Some prosciutto has the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) which dictates how it is produced and what ingredients can be used.


The most famous is the Prosciutto di Parma. The pigs here are fed whey leftover from making Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, which gives the prosciutto a slightly nutty flavor. If you travel around Italy, you’ll notice that each region’s prosciutto has a distinctive taste.


Usually, a pork leg is covered with sea salt and left to cure for a couple of months in a cool place. After that, it’s washed and left to dry. Once it’s dry, it’s hung for up to two years in a well-ventilated place.


In Italy, it’s called prosciutto crudo or “raw ham” because it’s not cooked. It’s often eaten as an appetizer with melon, breadsticks, asparagus, or fresh mozzarella. Or used in pasta dishes with peas and a cream sauce. Saltimbocca, which is veal topped with prosciutto, sage, and cheese, is one of Rome’s best-loved dishes.


Prosciutto is one of the pizza toppings on a Pizza Capricciosa, which also has mushrooms, artichokes, and olives. It’s also excellent with nutty cheeses like Fontina and Gruyere.


Less well known outside Italy, guanciale is unsmoked Italian bacon made from pork jowls or cheeks. To make it, the pork is rinsed in wine, seasoned and left to marinate for over a month. Like prosciutto, it’s left to dry, but unlike prosciutto, it’s meant to be cooked.


There aren’t many places outside of Rome that sell guanciale, but if you have a good Italian butcher, you can ask. You can also order it online. If you have guanciale, render it in a pan before using it as a pizza topping, and the save the drippings and make something fabulous with them. It’s extremely high in fat, but since even a small amount adds a tremendous amount of flavor, it won’t bust your diet completely.


You can also make your own if you have access to pork jowls and are willing to wait three weeks. Or you can check out the pizzas at BC Pizza. You won’t be disappointed!


Its rich, pork flavor is the cornerstone of dishes like Spaghetti alla Carbonara and Bucatini all’Amatriciana, though pancetta is often substituted.


Tips for Making a Great Homemade Pizza from Scratch

A great pizza is really a matter of preference. Making a great pizza from scratch starts with knowing what flavours and textures you like. Then, keep them in mind in each step of the pizza making process. 


Pizza dough ingredients are basic, and toppings are similar. So knowing that, it is really one’s personal preferences that make a pizza taste awesome. Here are some tips:


The Pizza Dough Basics

Measurements for ingredients can vary, as can the ingredients themselves. Basically however, pizza dough ingredients are the same and here are some tips for the basics:

  • Basic pizza dough ingredients include: yeast, flour, sugar, salt, hot water and also oil
  • You can add garlic or any favourite herb or spice to the dough
  • Be sure to check that the yeast has not expired
  • Use hot water. Do not use warm water, or boiling water
  • The oil used will alter the flavour. For example, using olive oil will give a different tasting crust, compared to canola oil
  • Kneading the dough is important. It’s not just about mixing the ingredients together, but also about preparing the dough to rise. The dough should be kneaded until entirely smooth
  • The dough will do best if left to rise in a warm spot
  • Cover the dough with a towel
  • The dough should be left to rise for about one hour.


Making a Perfect Pizza Crust

Determine how think you want the crust. Some people like a thin crispy crust. Other people prefer a medium crust. And some people like a thick crispy or thick chewy crust. It takes a bit of practice to make a thin crust. Here are some tips to help make the rolling easier:

  • Use parchment paper to roll the dough
  • Roll from the center of the dough outward
  • Hold the rolled out dough and use hands to help stretch the dough thinner
  • For a thin crust, the dough should be thin. But it should not be so thin that it will not hold up the toppings
  • You can place the dough directly on the pan. Alternatively, you can also bake the dough on the parchment paper
  • If not using parchment paper, brush the pan with oil
  • For a crispier crust, brush the bottom of thin crust with oil. If making a thicker crust, also brush the bottom and sides.
  • Bake the pizza in a preheated, but very hot oven. Place the pizza on the bottom rack, so that the crust bakes through in about the same amount of time it takes the cheese to melt. For example, it takes about 10 – 12 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for a thin crust


The pizza sauce used will affect the overall flavour of the pizza. Some people like a bit of sauce, while others like lots of extra pizza sauce. Experiment with flavours. For example, you might like a pesto sauce, or maybe add in barbeque sauce to the basic tomato sauce for a different flavour. Toppings change the overall flavour as well. For example, different brands of salami, when baked, make the pizza taste differently. Finally, if you are using a wood-fired oven, choose your firewood carefully. This is because your choice of firewood can affect the taste of the pizza.


When the Pizza is Ready

Once the pizza it is important to let the pizza rest for a few minutes.

  • When the pizza comes out of the oven, release the crust from the pan with a spatula
  • Give the cheese a few minutes to cool down before cutting the pizza. Otherwise, the cheese will slide off
  • A knife will work, but a heavy pizza cutter will cut easily through the melting cheese and crust
  • Parmesan cheese, red chili peppers and even mustard or ketchup can be added to a baked pizza slice for a bit of a different flavour


Follow these tips for making a great pizza from scratch. Knowing that a great pizza depends on personal taste preferences will help making a great pizza easier.