When I think of cooking with fire, a lot of images pop into my head, but the most iconic of all is the wood-fired oven.
Wood-fired ovens have been around for thousands of years, with clay and earth ovens being uncovered in Egypt, Greece and Italy with clear indications that these ovens and their designs were shared among these early empires either by way of trade or war.
Today wood-fired ovens are manufactured from modern materials such as brick and stainless steel, so they are far less cumbersome than early ovens were, and they can be used to cook everything from traditional items such as pizza and bread but are just as good at cooking up roasts and even soup.
This week Chef Tom and I are breaking out our wood-fired oven and tackling the stromboli, an invention of Italian-Americans living in Philadelphia. Believed to be named after the 1950 film starring Ingrid Bergman, the first stromboli was served at Romano’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria that same year.
This dish was a kind of turnover, with pizza dough being rolled out and filled with mozzarella cheese and deli meats such as salami and pepperoni. Though similar to a calzone, the stromboli is not simply folded over a single time; instead the dough is rolled to create pockets of filling and bread that is cooked into a log shape--so there's a bit of tasty goodness in each bite.
Scroll down for the recipe, and click on the audio to hear Chef Tom and I chat about just why we love cooking on wood-fired ovens so much.
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For the dough:
- 500g pizza ’00’ flour
- 10g white sugar
- 10g kosher salt
- 7g dry active yeast
- 325g warm (120°F) water
- 25g olive oil
For the filling:
- 2 lb chicken breasts
- 1 lb loose Italian sausage, browned
- Italian seasoning
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella, , sliced thin
- 8 oz provolone cheese
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 1 cup marinated artichoke hearts
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves
- 1/2 cup basil leaves
- 1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
- cloves garlic, sliced thin
- Combine all dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the dough hook mix for 7 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl and transfer to an oiled bowl topped with an oiled sheet of plastic wrap. Let sit until doubled in size. Turn out onto a floured surface. Divide into four portions. Form each portion into a tight ball. Cover with plastic and rest for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight if refrigerated.
- Preheat your wood fired oven to 450ºF.
- Season your chicken breasts with the Italian seasoning. Place on a rack in the wood fired oven and cook until the internal temperature reaches 160ºF. Remove. Rest for a few minutes. Slice thin.
- Roll out one portion of dough into a rectangular shape roughly 10” x 12”. The dough should be quite thin. Layer on the filling ingredients, keeping in mind that the quantities given are for 4 stromboli. Spread the ingredients out in a one large layer (as opposed to piled in the center), leaving a strip of dough exposed at the far end. Roll the dough around the filling toward the exposed strip of dough. Use a small amount of water to “glue” the dough to itself, and place the seam side down. Tuck, pinch and use water to “glue” the ends to fully encase the filling.
- Transfer the stromboli to a sheet of foil. Slide the sheet of foil and stromboli onto the cooking deck of the wood fired oven, out of the way of the direct flame. Close the door and allow to bake until browned on top, about 10 minutes. Remove and slice to serve.