Like Mushroom Pizza? We're Gonna Take You to Funghitown

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[Photographs: J. Kenji López-Alt]

I'm shamelessly cribbing the pun in the title of this post from former Serious Eats editor Adam Kuban's pop-up pizzeria, Margot's Pizza. Partly because I don't feel bad about it (I suggested he call his mushroom pie the "Funghitown" in the first place), and partly because it also gives me the opportunity to blab about how awesome Margot's is. It's awesome. Go.

You know what wasn't awesome? The mushroom pizza I tried to eat growing up. I'm talking about the stuff from the NY slice shops, where you'd get a few pieces of canned or fresh mushroom on top of a slice of reheated pizza that barely saw enough time in the oven to take the mushrooms beyond the slimy-but-edible stage. I hated mushroom pizza as a kid, and I'm sure I'm not alone.

But that was then, and things have changed. I've been taken on a one-way trip to Funghitown, and now that I'm here, I can only look at my past self in pity and hope that I never become that person again.

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Layering on straight mushrooms is all well and good, and I like the just-singed-by-the-flame mushroom flavor that fresh mushrooms will get you, but if you really want to get funghi with it, I suggest using a combination of fresh and cooked mushrooms to get both that fresh sweet flavor and the richer umami notes.

Sautéed mushrooms work, but a duxelles—a rough, seasoned puree of cooked mushrooms that's part of the classic French canon—works even better. I start by pulsing a mixture of button, shiitake, and portobello mushrooms in the food processor until they're finely minced, then I sauté them in olive oil until browned.

Once they're ready, I hit them with some shallots and thyme for flavor, along with a big slug of brandy to moisten them up and bring some class to the affair.

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The duxelles acts essentially as a sauce for the pizza, so extra tomato sauce would be superfluous, not to mention a distraction from the mushroom flavor. I dollop the duxelles onto my stretched Neapolitan-style pizza dough, scatter it with drained fresh mozzarella, cover the whole thing with a blanket of sliced mushrooms and more fresh thyme and garlic, drizzle it with olive oil, sprinkle it with salt, then park it in a preheated pizza oven. (A regular oven fitted with a baking steel or a grill with a KettlePizza insert will also work.)

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A few minutes to bake, and you've just printed yourself a one-way ticket.

Got some good-quality truffle oil lying around? Go ahead and drizzle it on there. But only if it's the good stuff!

Won't you take me to...