March 07, 2018
Good pizza starts with a good crust, and the rest follows with fresh, quality ingredients. One of my favorite pizza toppings in the spring is morel mushrooms, but don’t overpower its delicate flavors with too many other ingredients. Instead of using a heavy red sauce, this caramelized onion jam’s sweet, tart and savory profile was the perfect foil for the pizza’s earthy morels and other toppings: gooey mozzarella cheese and aromatic shallot, thyme and chives.
If you’re pressed for time, sure, you can use store-bought pizza crusts for this recipe. But if you really want to wow your taste buds, homemade pizza dough is the only way to go. The crust is the backbone of any great pizza, and awesome ingredients deserve the best. See my note on the perfect pizza crust below.
Serve this pizza with a fruity, dry white wine, such as pinot grigio, dry Riesling, unoaked chardonnay, rosé or sauvignon blanc. A light red such as pinot noir will also work.
Prep time: Variable (see note)
Cook time: 1 hour
- 2 (9- to 12-inch) pizza crusts, homemade or store-bought
- 1 cup morel mushrooms, washed and sliced lengthwise
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 2 large onions, sliced thickly
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves chopped
- 2 teaspoons freshly chopped chives
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
- Water for thinning out onion sauce
Note: Use your favorite pizza dough recipe or store-bought crust. Because the toppings are simple and fresh, I suggest using thin crust over deep dish to prevent overwhelming the ingredients.
For this recipe, I used Peter Reinhart’s pizza dough recipe, which can be found at www.101cookbooks.com. It tastes amazing, although a bit time consuming and tricky to learn at first. This dough needs to be made a day in advance, but the results are worth it. If you have the time and willingness, I suggest you give it a try. It’s a recipe worth adding to your repertoire.
1. At least 45 minutes before baking, preheat oven and pizza stone (if you’re using one). Reinhart’s pizza dough recipe required me to place the stone at the lowest rack in a 500-degree oven, but this may not be true for your recipe or premade crust; follow your own recipe or package directions as usual.
2. Meanwhile, make the caramelized onion jam, which can take up to 45 minutes. Transfer thickly sliced onion to a medium saucepan. Coat with olive oil, about 5 tablespoons. Turn the heat to medium, and allow to cook, stirring every few minutes until onion turns into a caramel color. Do not rush this process – you need to give the onions enough time to slowly convert its sugars and soften, not dry out and burn. If the onion begins to burn, lower heat and/or add a splash of water; the onions need to remain slightly wet throughout.
Once the onions are caramelized, sprinkle in sugar and balsamic vinegar. Add in enough water just to submerge the onions. Simmer on low for about 5 minutes to break down the onion pieces further, stirring frequently. Gradually add more water or reduce longer until you get a jam-like consistency. Add a pinch of salt and take off heat to cool.
3. Over medium heat, sauté halved morels in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until they’ve given up most of their moisture. Toward the end, add sliced shallot and sauté for about two minutes, or until softened. Add salt to taste. Set aside.
4. Prepare pizza dough accordingly. Spread a thin layer of caramelized onion jam on the two crusts. Tear off pieces of the fresh mozzarella and evenly distribute, along with the sautéed morels. Sprinkle chopped thyme leaves over the pizza, and bake in a preheated oven until dough has cooked through and turns golden. (If you love pizza and like to make it often, a pizza stone is a worthwhile investment.) Sprinkle freshly chopped chives on top of baked pizza, slice and serve.