Ok, we all love pizza, don't we? I mean it's pretty much on everyone's top 10 list of favourite foods. What's not to love? There's cheese, there's delicious tomato sauce, there's the crust (which, when done right, can be the best part of the pie) and there are all those wonderful toppings (especially when bacon's involved). One of the things that makes pizza pizza is its reliability. As a very lousy actor said in a very bad film (albeit with a memorable line): "Sex is like pizza: even when it's bad, it's still pretty good."
But what about when you want to break away from reliability? What about when you decide you need to top your pizza with MADNESS?!?!? For me, it started with my darling wife buying a smoked duck breast. We bandied about ideas for how to serve this dish for a while, but nothing seemed to come together. We then remembered that we'd used smoked duck breast once before for an appetizer we'd served at Christmas, which was basically crackers topped with a fig compote, slices of smoked duck and baby arugula. So, DING! it came together from there: We'd make the compote instead of using tomato sauce, then add the duck, mushrooms, tomatoes and cheese. See? It's a meal fit for this guy:
|"Bon appetit! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!!!"|
One of the best parts of this descent into Arkhamian levels of culinary depravity is that the pizza dough is actually quite easy to make and only takes about 30 minutes to put together. And yet, it's quite tasty and turns out with a light and crispy texture at the bottom, but still a nice chewy texture throughout the "body" of the crust.
Quick Pizza Crust
- 1 package dry yeast (.25 oz package)
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 1/2 flour (unbleached or whole wheat)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit
- In medium bowl, dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water. Let stand for 10 minutes until creamy/foamy.
- Stir in flour, salt and oil; mix well, forming a solid, but somewhat fluffy ball of dough. Try not to overwork dough or it will be tough.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, roll in flour then pat into a round or square pizza shape, or use a rolling pin, but try not to make the crust too thin, unless you want a thin-crust pizza!
- Spread Pizza Sauce (see later) on crust, smoked duck breast, mushroom slices, tomato slices and blue cheese. We also topped it with rind pieces of Parmesan cheese, but that didn't turn out super-well. If you really need to have Parmesan on there, I suggest grating some once the pizza is cooked.
- Cook pizza for 15-20 minutes until crust is golden.
|Ready for oven lovin'|
Fig, Plum and Port "Pizza Sauce"
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced or 1/2 tsp dried ginger
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 small or 1 large plum, pitted and chopped
- 3 dried figs, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup port (use the cheap stuff for cooking)
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oil on medium-high and saute garlic, ginger and shallot for 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in plum and figs and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in port and seasonings, bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low and reduce sauce for 20 minutes, until it's the same consistency as pizza sauce. Allow to cool slightly and use like you would pizza sauce!
|Pizza Sauce's fruity sister|
All in all, using a fruit compote of sorts as the base for this dish was something of a stroke of genius. It gave a nice sweet undertone to compliment the smoky saltiness of the duck and the pungency of the blue cheese, while the mushrooms and tomatoes rounded out the pie with more traditional pizza flavours. To be honest, it was one of the most awesome pizzas I've ever had, but smoked duck is pretty hard to beat as far as toppings go, so there's a bit of single-ingredient bias going on...
|Not your mama's pizza pie!|
So there you are, pizza madness like nobody's business!