Shiitake Mushroom and Goat Cheese Pizza
There is an inherent duality to pizza. There’s the joy of pizza, the prospect of delicious cheese and rich sauce, favorite toppings, and the ultimate casual dinner. Then there’s the downfall—how do you agree on what to get on your pizza? You could argue. You could concede. You could order several to meet everyone’s needs and have a ton of leftovers, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Or, you could take that bull by those horns and make your own. Cater the toppings to your own tastes. Choose your crust, choose your cheese, and build the pizza of your dreams.
We built ours from the ground up, starting with a crust made of naan. This Indian flatbread is fluffy and chewy, and sturdy enough to support a wide range of toppings. Since it usually comes ready-to-use, all we had to do was top it and put it in the oven; make sure you read the instructions for your choice of crust and prepare it accordingly.
Simple Pizza Sauce is a raw sauce that lives up to its name. If all the ingredients are ready to use it can come together in moments with the whirl of a food processor. The real surprise comes from the contribution of the St. Louis Rib Rub. This rub is slightly unconventional for pizza, but so is this pizza, so it works. The ancho pepper and paprika bring a hearty depth to this sauce, which is offset by the verdant pops of fennel and celery and the sweet touch of sugar. It’s two tablespoons of pure balance that center the tomatoes and garlic. And we don't often quibble about olive oil but if you have extra-virgin, you should use it here. Since this sauce isn't going to be cooked you want the best tasting ingredients, right from the start.
People tend to over-sauce their crust when making homemade pizza, which results in a soupy sort of mix instead of a delicious smear of sauce that enhances the other ingredients. Start with a healthy dollop of sauce in the middle of the naan and spiral outwards with a spoon. Sauce doesn’t have to cover every square millimeter of the dough; there can be streaks from the bottom of the spoon across the sauce. That’s fine, because everything will cook together in the oven into a cohesive whole. Leave 1/4 to 1/2 inch of the pizza crust un-sauced.
We caramelized our mushrooms before putting them on top of the pizza by tossing them in lemon and pepper, putting them in a hot pan, and letting them sit undisturbed until they started turning golden brown. Don’t salt the mushrooms until they are finished caramelizing, because that can cause the water to run out of them too soon and steam instead of brown. And we like the funk of goat cheese, but if that’s not for you, choose a cheese that’s soft and got a great meltability, like mozzarella or provolone. Don’t skimp on the chives! If you have fresh chives on hand that you’d like to use up, boost the amount by a tablespoon and add them at the end of cooking, since they won’t hold up to the heat of the oven as well as dried chives will.
Make sure your oven is nice and hot and put the pizza in. You can put it right on the oven rack or use a baking pan; the baking pan will prevent any cheese melt from overflowing onto your oven surfaces. If you have a pizza stone and want to use it, great! Just make sure you put it in the oven when you start the pre-heat so it’s primed and ready to use. Bake the pizza until it’s golden across the top and bubbly, and then? Enjoy!
- For Simple Pizza Sauce:
- 1 head of roasted garlic
- 20 oz can whole plum tomatoes, drained
- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons St Louis Rib Rub
- 1 teaspoon Fine Sea Salt
1. First, roast garlic. Preheat oven to 400°F. Take an entire head of garlic, remove the extraneous outer leaves and slice across the top of the entire head. Put it on foil or a small baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle across the top with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes. When it is cool, squeeze cloves straight out of their leaves and into the mixing bowl of your food processor.
2. Combine all remaining ingredients for the sauce into a blender or food processor and puree. Set aside.
3. Raise oven temperature to 425°F.
4. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Toss mushroom slices in lemon zest and Medium Grind Black Pepper. Add mushrooms and minced garlic to oil and cook for 5 minutes or until mushrooms are lightly browned. Season with salt and remove from heat.
5. Combine goat cheese with Dried Chives and Pennsylvania Pepper and mix with a fork to combine.
6. To bake, prepare your favorite store bought or homemade pizza crust according to directions. When crust is ready, assemble pizza. Start with Simple Pizza Sauce, then Parmesan, goat cheese, and finally the mushrooms. Top with shredded Parmesan cheese.
7. Bake in a 425°F degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes.