The Best of Georgia Takes Top Spot in Bolla Wines National Pizza Contest

Patrick Stapleton’s Southern Peach ‘n’ Pulled Pork Pizza Wins Grand Prize Trip to Italy

October 28, 2008 –  Inspired by his study abroad experience in Italy, Patrick Stapleton of Augusta, Georgia,  tried his hand at a Southern twist on an Italian classic when he entered the Southern Peach ‘n’ Pulled Pork Pizza recipe into Bolla Wines’ national pizza contest. Little did he know his winning recipe would bring him back to Italy, after it beat out hundreds of other hometown favorites in Bolla’s “Taste of Your Town” contest.

“I am very excited to win the Taste of Your Town pizza challenge and can’t wait to eat my way through Italy,” Stapleton said.

Contestants in Bolla’s “Taste of Your Town” pizza contest, which launched in February 2008, were asked to submit a pizza recipe online that represented their state, whether it was locally produced ingredients or their state’s signature dish.  Five regional regions, including Stapleton, were selected and went head to head for  chance at the grand prize trip to Italy to visit Bolla’s winery in Verona and attend the World Pizza Championships as a spectator. The grand prize winner was determined via an online vote and a live taste testing with a panel of culinary and media judges.

Patrick, the Southeast representative, beat out The Far West’s Chanterelle pizza with arugula-pumpkin seed pesto and chevre (Oregon); The Southwest’s Chipotle Chicken Enchilada Pizza (Texas); The Midwest’s Cornhusker Pizza with roasted corn and bacon (Nebraska); and The Northeast’s Passionately Seafood Apizza with fresh clams and lemon juice (Connecticut). The Southeast was one of five regions in this national pizza competition and included AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, VA and WV.

An avid cook, Stapleton who moved from deep dish Chicago to Georgia when he was six, focused on Georgia’s  approximately 20,000 acres of peach trees, its popular Vidalia onion and the region’s infamous pulled pork for his recipe.  He also drew inspiration from his mom who believed in cooking pizza from scratch.

“My mom always made homemade pizzas instead of takeout. When I cooked this recipe for my family and friends they were a little hesitant at first but found it surprisingly good,” he said.

Patrick stumbled upon the contest when he was searching for Italian wine on the web and came across Bolla’s site. He paired his recipe entry with one of his favorite Italian wines – Bolla Bardolino. “I first got into Bolla Wines when I was in Italy and I’ve been a Bolla fan ever since,” Stapleton said.

Bolla, the “Official Wine of Pizza” and a sponsor of the U.S. Pizza Team was introduced in the U.S. after GI’s returned from World War II, the same time pizza went mainstream. Bolla’s roots lay in the hillside of the acclaimed Veneto region in Northern Italy where Abele Bolla started handcrafting his wines at his small winery in 1883. Today, Bolla’s winemakers hand harvest grapes from five regions in Italy: Veneto, Lombardia, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Tuscany and Romagna.

Southern Peach ‘n’ Pulled Pork Pizza
By Patrick Stapleton

Pizza dough: 
1 12” prepared pizza crust 

1 (3-4 lb) pork shoulder roast or boston butt (or store bought prepared pulled pork) 
1 ½ cup Vidalia onion, sliced (or other sweet onion) 
1 1/2 cups water 
1 pound frozen peaches (thawed)  
1 tablespoon olive oil 
2 tablespoons jalapeño peppers, chopped 
1/4 cup cider vinegar 
1/3 cup bourbon (optional) 
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes 
2 1/2 tablespoons honey 
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard 
2 teaspoons brown sugar 
1 teaspoon chili powder
 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
1 teaspoon dried oregano 
1 teaspoon dried basil 
1 teaspoon dry mustard  
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste 
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 

Directions:

If making homemade pulled pork, it should be done day ahead and kept refrigerated. For an easier version, buy store bought prepared pulled pork.    

Place half of the thinly sliced onions in bottom of a slow cooker. Add pork and water, along with remaining onion slices. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Shred pork with a fork and discard fat. Refrigerate if not used immediately.   

Add oil to medium saucepan, cook onions and peppers over medium heat until softened, 5-8 minutes. Chop peaches and add them to pan leaving a small portion to the side. Add vinegar and bourbon (optional), heat for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, honey, mustard, brown sugar, and spices.

Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until peaches are very tender, about 30 minutes.  Let sauce cool and puree in blender.    

In another medium saucepan add pulled pork and 1 cup of sauce, heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.     Spread sauce and pulled pork evenly over dough and half of mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.  Add slices of Vidalia onion and remaining chopped peaches.  Top with the remaining cheese. Cook pizza in 450 degree heat for 12-15 minutes until cheese is melted.  Slice and enjoy this Italian classic with a good ole’ southern twist!