Some people burn sage to cleanse a new home of any lingering negative spirits. I, ever the multitasker, make sage pizza.
One of the best ways to lay claim to a new space is to create something new inside it. And although this is technically the sixth or so meal I've made in the new kitchen, it's the first one I developed all on my own.
My arms felt strange kneading the pizza dough on higher (standard height!) counters. Instinctively, I kept my elbows tight to my sides while sautéeing the chicken and mushrooms at the stove—my muscle memory still accustomed to the old house's narrow oven alcove. More than a few times, I opened the cabinet under the sink without looking and dumped the sink drain contents onto my collection of cleaning supplies, forgetting that the adult-size trash can we finally have room for is on the other side of the room. And the pizza came out a little crispier than I had hoped, because this new gas oven actually reaches—and holds—temperature. (Fun fact: leaving the oven door open a crack while broiling is a great way to melt the hinges on plastic baby proof oven knob covers.)
In my take on sage burning, or smudging, three waves of sage (minced and cooked with the chicken and mushrooms, then baked, then a few whole leaves fried in butter) wafted through the house. I don't know that I believe in the whole lingering negative spirit thing, but I added some garlic, too, just in case. You can never be too safe.
Chicken, Mushroom, and Sage Pizza
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
- 1 large garlic clove minced or pressed
- 1 small shallot finely chopped
- ½ pound ground chicken
- 4 ounces cremini mushrooms stemmed and sliced
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
- 1 (14- to 16-ounce) ball pizza dough
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- ½ cup grated Gruyere cheese
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 sage leaves
- Place your pizza stone or steel (if using) on an oven rack in the bottom third of your oven. If you plan to cook your pizza on a baking sheet, just place a rack in the middle of the oven (you do not need to preheat the baking sheet). Preheat the oven to 500°F (or the highest temperature your oven will allow, if using a pizza stone/steel) and let it heat up for at least 30 minutes while you make the dough and/or prep the toppings.
To prep the toppings
- Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and shallot and cook just until they soften a bit, about 2 minutes, then add the ground chicken, mushrooms, chopped sage, a hefty pinch of salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, just until the chicken is no longer pink (3 to 5 minutes). Remove the skillet from the heat and set it aside to cool slightly.
To stretch or roll out the dough
- Place the dough on a clean work surface and, using your hands, gently stretch it into a 12-inch circle or square, making sure that it retains an even thickness throughout. Alternatively, use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 12-inch circle or square.
- If you’re using a pizza stone or steel: Dust a pizza peel or the back of a baking sheet lightly with flour or cornmeal. Place the dough disk on the prepared peel.
- If you’re using a baking sheet: Spray the baking sheet with cooking spray or rub it with olive oil. Place the dough disk on the prepared baking sheet.
To top the pizza
- Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a ramekin in the microwave. Brush the dough with the melted butter, then sprinkle with the paprika and a nice pinch of salt. Using a slotted spoon to reduce the amount of liquid, scoop the chicken-mushroom mixture onto the dough and spread it out in an even layer, leaving a ½-inch border of dough all around. Top with the Gruyere, drizzle with the cream, and sprinkle on the Parmesan.
To bake the pizza
- If you’re using a pizza stone or steel, 20 minutes before you are ready to cook the pizza, increase the oven heat to broil. Slide the pizza from the peel (or inverted baking sheet) to the hot stone or steel using quick shimmying movements. Broil the pizza until the crust is golden and the cheese has browned in spots, 6 to 8 minutes. Using the peel or inverted baking sheet, transfer the cooked pizza to a cutting board. If you are making more than one pizza, allow the pizza stone or steel to reheat under the broiler for 10 minutes before you cook the next one.
- If you’re using a baking sheet, do not increase the oven to broil. Place the baking sheet on the rack in the middle of the oven and bake until the crust is golden and the cheese has browned in spots, about 10 minutes.
- Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a small skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the sage leaves and fry without stirring for a few minutes, just until they curl and crisp up. Use tongs to transfer the fried sage leaves to a paper towel.
- Crumble the fried sage leaves over the hot pizza. Slice and serve.