To my knowledge, there is nothing about pizza in Matt Hancock’s predictable and infantile series of WhatsApp messages.
You may correct me if I’m wrong, but given that a sizable brouhaha was made in 2020 over Hancock spending £50,000 on Filipino takeaways from Bongbong’s Manila Kanteen in lockdown – one of his only positive pursuits ever, by the way – I should imagine any penchant for pizza would have surfaced by now, such is the intensity at which reporters are poring over the correspondence.
And so I can only assume the former health secretary-cum-jungle bore doesn’t care for pizza. You can tell a lot about somebody by their relationship with the dish. I think it would be fair to say that pizza is a good gauge of human integrity. It is universally enjoyed, like football, because it is circular and affordable. It is also filling. Nothing about Hancock is filling.
Hancock is the opposite of pizza. I suspect he struggled in his youth, for various reasons, particularly with women. A middling to decent ability in the political sphere probably led him to suppose his best chance of having fun would be to get into politics. After all, politics is the best way for ugly people to become famous – their social currency is power.
Pizza doesn’t need to try so hard. It is merely dough covered in tomatoes and cheese, and yet is one of the most powerful tools to ignite change. Everything about it is easy and simple, a far cry from the paradigms of political discourse in Britain, which are toxic and lack any degree of comfort.
So let us celebrate pizza here. Today, bianca, because we all know the situation with tomatoes (oh right, yeah, thanks for that, Tories). The dish is the work of Andrea Ascuiti, who has just opened 081 Pizzeria (formerly a pop-up) in Peckham. He’s from Naples and his pizzas are outstanding.
PIZZA BIANCA GENOVESE
For the pizza:
Extra virgin olive oil
500g of pizza dough
500g beef shin
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
For the parmesan crisp:
50g grated parmesan
For the pecorino fondue:
200g grated pecorino
Heat up a large pan or Dutch oven with the oil. Slice the onions, celery and carrots and put into the pan to fry.
In a separate frying pan, brown all sides of the beef shin and then add it to the pan with the vegetables.
Add some water to the pan. Slow-cook everything together in the pot for at least six hours on a low flame, adding more water if necessary.
Take the pizza dough and stretch to the desired size, then brush the base with olive oil.
When cooked, shred the beef. Place the onions on the base of the pizza. Then add parmesan, basil, the pulled beef and mozzarella.
Bake the pizza in the oven (at its highest possible setting for 100 seconds, then 220 degrees for five to six minutes).
Remove from the oven and sprinkle with pecorino fondue and parmesan chips.
For the parmesan crisp: Place 50g of grated parmesan on some parchment paper and cook in the microwave for one minute.
For the pecorino fondue: Using a bain marie (eg a bowl set in a large, shallow pan of warm water) mix the pecorino and cream until ready.