Simply Seasonal: Avon chefs guide to great pizza
AVON, Colorado What makes a great pizza? Its first about the crust, said Jeremy Kittelson, executive chef at Restaurant Avondale. The crust should be crisp, yet chewy, and not too thick. The flavors of the pizza should come through loud and clear, and not be overshadowed by a crust thats too doughy.Surprisingly, a terrific crust is something the home cook can master, and it opens the door to endless uses: a quick weeknight meal, spontaneous appetizer, game day fare, after school snack, and even a fun breakfast. Get comfortable making the dough and it can be kept frozen. Then keep a variety of topping favorites on the grocery list and delicious pizza is within reach anytime.How to go about choosing a dough recipe? You dont even need to search. At Avondale, pizza is a priority its one of Americas favorite foods, said Mike Regrut, executive chef of the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa. Jeremy and I have tested hundreds of recipes! We use a starter dough at the restaurant, to ensure consistency, but there is a faster way that will also yield a great pie.Using an upright mixer (KitchenAid style) will speed the process of dough making, though purists will love the meditative rhythm of kneading the dough by hand. Either way, theres no substitute for the satisfaction that comes with making a tasty pizza with your own hands.Kittelson recommends experimenting with flavors beyond the typical marinara sauce.An infused olive oil or vegetable base keeps the taste light and fresh. His mushroom base is a versatile spread, easy to make, and complements a variety of toppings. Topping suggestions? Charcuteries are a food trend right now, so a wide variety of smoked and cured meats are readily available. Pick up some artisanal fennel sausage, pepperoni, soppresata, prosciutto or pancetta. Same with artisan cheeses discover all kinds of hard and soft cheeses, from mild to strong. Fresh greens and veggies will add color and crunch.
3 cups flour3 cups bread flour2 cups water (warm, but not hot)1⁄8 cup olive oil1 Tablespoon honey11⁄4 Tablespoon salt1⁄2 Tablespoon dry yeastMix water with honey and yeast and allow to sit for 2 minutes till it starts to bubble, indicating that the yeast is activated. Place the flours and the yeast mixture in a stand-up mixer bowl fitted with the bread hook. Mix on speed 2 for 3 minutes to incorporate ingredients. After mixing allow to rest for 15 minutes. Turn on the mixer to speed 2 and drizzle in the oil. When combined, add salt, turn speed up to 3 and mix for two minutes, until dough becomes smooth and elastic. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in warm spot. Allow dough to rise till double in size. Punch down to release air and divide into eight equal portions. Dough is now ready to roll out, top, and bake. To use later, wrap each portion tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours or freeze for four weeks. Yield eight 12-inch pizza crusts.
2 pounds assorted mushrooms, minced2 cloves garlic, minced1 shallot, minced1⁄4 cup olive oilSaute mushrooms till brown and fragrant, add garlic and shallot and continue to saut until a paste begins to form. Remove from heat and stir in enough olive oil to make it spreadable.
3 Tablespoon Mushroom base or infused olive oil2 cups soft cheese (mozzarella, ricotta, farmers, or other soft artisan style)1 cup thinly sliced cured or smoked meat (salami, proscuitto, toscano, pepperoni, or other charcuterie)1⁄2 cup fresh greens or vegetables, cooked or raw1⁄4 cup shaved Parmesan or other sharp artisan cheeseRoll out pizza dough to 1⁄4-inch thick and 12-inch diameter. Spread with 3 tablespoons mushroom base. Bake pizza shell at 450 for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Top with other ingredients, reserving some to add after baking. Bake another 5 minutes or until crust in golden and cheese is melted. Add final ingredients on top and serve.Breakfast PizzaRoll out pizza dough to 1⁄4-inch thick and 12-inch diameter. Spread with 3 tablespoons mushroom base. Bake pizza shell at 450 for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Top with mozzarella cheese. Crack one egg in the center. Return to oven till egg is cooked and crust is golden brown (if crust browns too quickly, place the pizza under the broiler briefly to finish cooking the egg.) Remove from oven and add additional toppings, like rocket and prosciutto. Cut into tic-tac-toe pattern to serve.Sue Barham is the marketing director for Restaurant Avondale and Larkspur Restaurant. Avondale recently opened in The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon. The restaurant features a West Coast inspired, seasonal menu and the chefs use time-honored cooking methods, such as slow roasting and braising, to create simple dishes rich in flavor. The wine program focuses on small production wines to compliment the straightforward cuisine. For more information, visit http://www.avondalerestaurant.com.