Mozzarella Focaccia

Mozzarella Focaccia

Serves 4 as part of a light lunch
12 ounces (350g) buffalo mozzarella
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
a handful of basil leaves
2 bottled red chilies, thinly sliced
a tablespoon of black peppercorns, roughly crushed
4 spring onions
a round focaccia, not too thick
6 large slices of Parma ham (or San Daniele or coppa), thinly sliced
2 tbsp. (or so) finely grated Parmesan

Cut the mozzarella into thin slices and put it in a shallow dish. Cover it with the olive oil, the torn basil leaves and the red chilies. Scatter over the black peppercorns. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it to marinate. Half an hour will be enough, but leave it longer if you can. Meanwhile, grill the spring onions till lightly blackened in patches.

Halve the focaccia horizontally, hold the cheese in place in its dish and pour the marinating oil and milky juices over the cut sides of the bread. Cover the bottom half with the ham, then the mozzarella and bits, then the grilled onions, then finally the grated Parmesan. Put the top half on and press gently, then lift it carefully on to a hot ridged griddle pan or a preheated baking sheet.

Either cook it on the hot griddle till the cheese starts to melt, turning once with the help of a wide, flat kitchen slice or bake it in an oven pre heated to 350ºF for twenty to twenty-five minutes. The point is to get the outside toasted and the cheese oozing.

Cut into wedges and eat while the cheese is still molten and stringy.