We look forward to hunting season each fall. When the morning fog comes, we know it’s time to head for the forest. We stalk our prey armed with a pocket knife, a pastry brush, and lots of brown paper bags. We are in pursuit of the wild and elusive chanterelle mushroom.
And the extremely rare lobster mushroom.
They hide under clods of soil, they’re camouflaged as fallen leaves, but they cannot evade capture for long. We’re on their trail.
We had a good hunt.
We’ve been feasting ever since. This week I made chanterelle soup, herbed polenta with creamy chanterelle sauce, and some fantastic wild mushroom pizzas, and we’ve only eaten our way through half of the mushrooms so far. We’d better start planning our next hunting trip.
Wild Mushroom Pizza
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¾ pound wild mushrooms, sliced or torn into bite-size pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
1 recipe Simple Pizza Dough
1 recipe Alfredo Sauce, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 500˚F with a baking stone on the center rack.
Heat a large, heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, or until tender.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and let cool.
Gently deflate the dough, cut it in half, and form each half into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for about 15 minutes.
Keeping the remaining dough covered as you work, gently stretch 1 half into a circle, about 12 inches across and slightly thicker around the edges. Place the crust onto a 14-inch parchment paper circle on a baker’s peel. Spread with half of the sauce, leaving a 1-inch border at the edge, and top with half of the mushrooms. Carefully slide the pizza with the parchment onto the baking stone in the oven and bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until golden brown. Meanwhile, assemble the second pizza with the remaining dough, sauce, and mushrooms in the same manner. Bake the second pizza after the first one is done. Cut the pizzas into wedges and serve.
Makes 2 12-inch pizzas. The oven needs to be good and hot for pizza, so preheat it for at least an hour while the dough rises. Don’t be tempted to skip sautéing the mushrooms, all the moisture that raw mushrooms exude will make for a soggy pizza crust. I like to use parchment paper rather than semolina for sliding the crust off the peel into the oven. It’s less messy and absolutely foolproof, eliminating any chance that the pizza will stick to the peel.