Duxelles pizza

Although I don’t eat it nearly as often as I did once upon my youth, I still love myself a good slice of pizza.  Unlike the younger version of me, I’m not as attracted by giant slices of greasy cheese Pizza Hut monstrosities.  Don’t get me wrong – I love the taste, but I know my intestines will pay for it for the next forty-eight hours.  (Isn’t adulthood great?)  What I do love these days is a good slice of the kind of pizza at which I used to turn up my nose: vegetable pizza.

That’s right, gentle readers.  I want my veggies, and lots of ’em.  I like my pizza piled high not with cheese and pepperoni, but slices of gently roasted tomatoes, broccoli florets and the like.  My younger self would scoff at the abomination of my current pizza preferences.  “Ha!” she would exclaim haughtily.  “You can’t trick me into eating vegetables!  You think you’re so smart, but I’m on to you.”

Fast forward about twenty years to a pizzeria just minutes from my parents’ house. My mother ordered for us, as she had had this particular pie before and knew I would love it.  Instead of a traditional tomato-based sauce, it was a mushroom sauce, also known as duxelles (French for “om nom nom”). Atop it was arranged slices of plum tomatoes and roasted garlic, chopped artichoke hearts and crumbled goat cheese.  Certainly not the traditional pizza in any sense, but I was game.

Oh my.  I had never had anything like this before.  It was so delicious that I just had to try and recreate it at home.  It only took about six months before I tried it. Why? Two reasons:

  1. The idea of the duxelles sauce, which made the pizza so nomable, was a little intimidating.  It could easily turn out a little wonky, so I wanted to be sure that I got it just right before I tried using it as a pizza sauce.
  2. Honestly, I kind of forgot about it.

When I discovered that it was so ridiculously easy, I facepalmed at the realization that I could have been eating this delectable slice of heaven months earlier.

(I am probably bastardizing the original French recipe here, but I’m not too worried about it.  The results taste heavenly and to me that’s all that matters.)

Duxelles is made by chopping mushrooms (button, cremini, portobello, whatever) extremely finely.  I used about 12 ounces (a box and a half, if you buy them prepackaged at the grocery store).  With that same fine touch, chop a small shallot. Into the frying pan goes the mushrooms and shallots, along with some fresh thyme leaves and a heaping glop of butter, because what good would French food be without butter?  What happens next is really quite phenomenal.  The mushrooms will absorb all the butter, and then release it all back into the pan along with their own juices and a generous sploosh (read: about 1/3 cup) of sherry.  After some simmering, the liquid will evaporate, leaving you with some mighty delicious, mighty soft and pasty mushrooms.  (I usually give it a little whir with my immersion blender, too, just to make sure it’s extra creamy.)  What you get out of this adventure is a perfect sauce to spread upon your pizza dough.

I usually make my own pizza dough and lay it thinly over my wonderful pizza pan (the circular type with holes in the bottom for even cooking).  Spread on the duxelles and top with rinsed (if canned), chopped artichoke hearts and sliced plum tomatoes (which I forgot when I made the pizza featured in the above photo), and sprinkle on some goat cheese.  Brush the crust with a bit of olive oil and bake for about 20 minutes at 450°F, until the cheese starts to brown.  It won’t melt like mozzarella, but it complements the mushrooms so well!

I’d be curious to know what other veggie combinations others think of to use on a duxelles pizza…


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Laura
    Apr 14, 2010 @ 13:10:25

    That sounds SO good. I bookmarked this so I can try it … mmm 🙂


  2. curlywurlygurly
    Apr 14, 2010 @ 20:22:52

    i’m not a big pizza fan myself…but can’t say no to this one pie a local restaurant makes. it’s a deep dish crush (le sigh) and is piled high will grilled veggies. like you, i was a pizza purist as a kid and would have scoffed at veggie pizza. today it’s my favorite!

    as for additions to your pizza…maybe some sundried tomatoes and asparagus? they go nicely with mushrooms. 🙂


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