Let’s go back a century…
For the people of Cercemaggiore, our small village in the mountains of Molise, one of the most popular foods was the 'pizza' made with cornflour. The flour obtained from the yellow/orange grains of the 'agostinelli' corn - so called because it ripens as early as the end of August - once upon a time was the most available ingredient for everyone. And so the women of the house worked with their hands and their imagination to vary the diet while using up their stocks.
Today we can do the same, following their example: here is the simple 'pizza' recipe, seasoned only with salt and perhaps with a few grains of wild fennel. The traditional Pizza was cooked slowly on top of the hearth, covered with a metal or terracotta cup on which hot coals were distributed. Today, just as slowly, we let it cook in the electric oven.
What will you need:
The Traditional Pizza di Mais:
The traditional pizza is super simple: choose an ample container and mix with your hands 1 kg of cornflour, 8-10 gr of salt and lukewarm water. Add water little by little while mixing until you reach a soft but compact consistency.
Once we used to cook the pizza in the fireplace, today we can use our electric oven: pre-heat it at 180°, grease a baking tray with some olive oil and transfer the cornflour mix making it flat, then let it cook for 1 hour or more, until the top of the pizza is golden and crispy.
My modern variation:
For a taller and softer pizza, I like to add to 1 kg of corn flour also half a glass of extra virgin olive oil, salt, a teaspoon of sugar and the Mastro Fornaio brewer’s yeast (1 sachet). I melt the yeast in water before adding it to the mix and then keep incorporating water with my hands till I reach that perfect soft consistency.
Another variation is the spiced version: to the base, you can add some wild fennel, chili pepper or even grated orange peel!
To accompany this simple Pizza some vegetables are perfect and I love to pair it with Turnip Greens. I collected mine directly from my vegetable garden and, while I was at it, I also took this beautiful picture: a Sunny day in February in Molise is truly a blessing!
To cook my turnip greens I simply dip them in boiling water for a couple of minutes then I drain them and pass them in a pan with olive oil, garlic and chili peppers to season them.
I sliced my Mais Pizza and added a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, I then browned my slices in a pan to make them extra crispy and then paired each slice with some Turnip Greens.
To make this dish even tastier you can top it off with some semi-dried Tomatoes by La Cerignola!
Did you know…
This simple pizza can be the base for so many recipes! First of all “Pizza e Minestra” where you accompany the crumbled pizza with a vegetable broth.
You can brown the pizza with bacon and chili pepper to make it tastier or even add red peppers or anchovies.
Corn Flour was also used to make sweet preparations with cooked must or ricotta cheese and of course, you can make Polenta…But this is another recipe for another day!
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