John is not a huge mushroom fan, so when I decided to make a mushroom pizza I knew I had to entice him with other things he does love . . . like beer . . . and really good cheese. You can use whatever lager or ale you have in the fridge (as I did), but an Oktoberfest brew would be especially flavorful. For the cheese, I went with Doe Run's Hickory on the Hill, an Appenzeller-style washed in coffee, black cardamom, and coriander. Since the cheese flavor really stands out on this pizza, I recommend bypassing the plain-old grocery store Swiss and picking out something special at your local cheese counter. Appenzeller, Gruyère, Emmental, Havarti, Raclette, Compte . . . any semi-hard, Alpine-style cheese with a nutty, slightly sweet flavor will do the trick. There's a reason that mushroom and Swiss is such a classic culinary pairing; both share mineral, earthy notes, but the sweet undertones and subtle tang of Alpine-style cheeses accentuate mushroom's deep umami flavor, bringing all five tastes into play.
PS: If you're looking for a delicious vegetable side for Thanksgiving, double or triple the recipe (minus the dough, olive oil, and cheese) and make the beer-poached mushrooms on their own, sprinkled with parsley.
Drunken Mushroom Pizza (inspired by this recipe on Food Wonk)
Makes one 12-inch pizza
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 8 ounces cremini or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
- 2/3 cup lager, ale, or Oktoberfest beer
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (14- to 16-ounce) ball Basic Pizza Dough (or pre-made dough)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup grated alpine cheese, such as Appenzeller, Gruyère, or Swiss
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Place your pizza stone (if using) on an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 500°F and let it heat up for at least 30 minutes while you make the dough and/or prepare the toppings.
To prep the toppings: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is frothy, add the mushrooms, then pour in the beer. Cook the mushrooms, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes or until all but 1 tablespoon or so of liquid is absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat; season the mushrooms with salt and pepper, and set them aside to cool.
To stretch/roll out the dough: Dust the ball of dough with flour and place it on a well-floured work surface. Using your hands or a rolling pin, gently stretch or roll the dough into a 12-inch disk.
If you’re using a pizza stone: Dust a pizza peel or the back of a baking sheet 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. Place the dough disk on the prepared baking sheet.
To top the pizza: Drizzle the dough lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle on 1/2 cup of the cheese, then spread the mushrooms evenly over top, leaving a 1/2-inch border of dough. Finally, sprinkle on the parsley and the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.
To bake the pizza: Slide the pizza from the peel (or inverted baking sheet) to the hot stone using quick shimmying movements. Bake the pizza for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese has melted. Using the peel or inverted baking sheet, transfer the cooked pizza to a cutting board.
If you're using a baking sheet, place the baking sheet on the rack in the middle of the oven and bake at 500°F for about 10 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the cheese has melted.
Remove the pizza from the oven and let it cool for at least 5 minutes, then slice and serve.