Back in college, I tried a pizza in Italy with thinly sliced potatoes and rosemary. At that time, it was the most delicious and unusual pizza I’d ever tried. Even though potatoes are a standard topping nowadays at many pizzerias, I was having a hard time reliving that magical dinner in Florence.
Years later, Elliott and I got the rare opportunity to work together in the pizza kitchen at PCC (I think our bosses thought we were having too much fun), and he attempted his own version of the potato pizza. After delicately slicing the potatoes to the thickness of paper, he unloaded his masterpiece into the oven. Six minutes later he found that even though his crust was a perfect golden brown and the cheese was just right, his potatoes were still raw in the middle. That elusive potato pizza had done it again! Was I going to have to buy a one-way ticket to the source to get what I was looking for?
With our new pizza stone in hand, we decided it was time to tackle this tuber-teaser once and for all. The truffle butter was calling to us from the fridge so we set out to create an earthy rendition with mushrooms, rosemary, and pecorino. And the verdict? I’m happy to say that even though I will definitely still be heading to Italy in the near future, it won’t be for the potato pizza!
Dough – Adapted from “Roberta’s Pizza Dough Recipe”
1 cup Tipo “00” Flour
1 cup All Purpose Flour
1 cup filtered water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. sugar
2 tbsp. truffle butter
2 tbsp. olive oil (use the good stuff)
1 medium-size Yukon Gold potato, boiled whole for ten minutes, left to cool at room temperature for 20 minutes, then sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly into chips and simmered in olive oil over low heat until lightly browned and soft
2 crimini mushrooms, sliced
Pecorino Cheese, grated
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Method for the Dough
We’ve found that pizza dough really needs a few days in the refrigerator to develop the best flavor. We make a full batch according to the recipe above, use a couple of dough balls right away, and put 1-2 in the refrigerator for later (if it’s going to be more than 3-4 days, the freezer works great as well). Something about giving the yeast a couple of days to work really helps to bring out that magical doughy flavor that the best pizzas have. Allow the water to come to room temperature, or microwave it for just a few seconds (don’t let it get past body temperature), then stir in the yeast and olive oil. Combine the flours, salt, and sugar in a bowl and pour in the liquid ingredients. Mix with a fork or your hands until just combined, then cover the bowl with a lightly damp towel and let it rise for 15 minutes. Lightly knead the dough for a minute or two until it’s smooth to the touch. Then, using a dough knife (or regular knife), cut the dough into four pieces (two pieces if you like bigger pies). Pat each into a ball, sprinkle with flour and either cover with the damp towel and let sit at room temperature for 3-4 hours, or wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze.
Method for the Pie
Give your oven at least an hour to heat up to it’s highest setting (ours goes to 550), with the pizza stone inside. If your dough is frozen, make sure to get it into the refrigerator at least a day ahead of time, 2-3 days is better. If it’s in the refrigerator, pull it out and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour before making the pizza. While the dough is warming up, prep all ingredients – sauté the garlic, slice the mushrooms, potato, and cheese, etc. Once the dough is ready, flour a wooden cutting board or pizza peel and gently work the dough out to the desired size. There are a number of strategies for doing this, each yielding a slightly different result. Our favorite part of any pizza crust is the airy, bubbly, crispy, chewy outer crust, so I’m extra gentle with the outer-rim. The video included in the Roberta’s Pizza Dough article offers a great technique.
Once the dough is stretched to your desired size and thickness, spread the truffle butter directly on the dough (let the glob of butter warm up for 10 minutes or so before attempting this). Once the butter is evenly spread, drizzle with olive oil, then layer with garlic, mozzarella, potato, mushrooms and rosemary. Carefully shake the pizza loose from the cutting board or peel before sliding it onto the pizza stone. Cooking time will depend entirely on your oven – after a couple of minutes, watch diligently for the toppings to begin to bubble, and the crust to get golden brown. If you’re lucky and your oven gets hot enough, you might even end up with a char-bubble or two! This really shouldn’t take more than 6-9 minutes, tops.
Carefully remove the pie from the oven, sprinkle with grated pecorino, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and maybe even another drizzle of olive oil. Let it cool for a minute or two, then slice it up and see how long it lasts!