It’s my birthday! Now, to be fair, I’m not really a birthdays person (at least for mine), but it’s always a good excuse to celebrate by cooking or eating something just a little more luxurious than usual.
Originally I wanted to make a proper tartufata for this pizza, with mushrooms and minced bits of truffle. Unfortunately, finding a truffle was harder than anticipated; the store that carries them locally only had giant $300 ones in stock, and that’s a bit much to spend on making a pizza (even for a birthday). Instead, I used truffle oil to create this much more affordable option that you can make any time on a much more reasonable budget.
A note on truffle oil:
Truffle oil isn’t made purely from truffles, the way olive oil is from olives. Instead, it’s (typically) olive oil infused with either natural or synthetic truffle flavor. Unfortunately, most truffle oils sold in the US are synthetically flavored (and the packaging is often misleading, so you may not even realize it). While these offer a semi-passable imitation of truffle aroma and flavor, I don’t recommend using them; the real deal is notably different, and absolutely worth the extra cost. I got mine from the amazing Del’ Oliva in Burlingame, CA, but check your local specialty foods store.
Too much heat can negatively affect the flavor of truffles, including truffle oil. Instead of cooking the truffled mushrooms on the pizza, the mushrooms in this recipe are cooked on their own, allowed to cool, and then mixed with truffle oil. That mixture is then put onto the freshly baked pizza, where the residual heat of the pizza warms it enough to release the flavor and aroma without overheating the truffle oil.
Mushroom and Truffle Pizza with Crescenza and Leek
- 1 pizza dough ball (either basic pizza dough or 2-hour pizza dough is fine)
- 1 small leek
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (divided)
- 3 to 4 ounces mushrooms (I used crimini, but feel free to substitute)
- ⅛ teaspoon high-quality truffle oil
- extra virgin olive oil
- 2 ounces mozzarella, cut into cubes
- 1 ½ ounces Port Salut, cut into small cubes (substitute Havarti if you can't find Port Salut)
Prepare the leek:
- Preheat the oven to 550 degrees Fahrenheit with your pizza stone inside.
- Trim the roots and upper green part off the leek, and discard. Slice the leek’s stalk fairly thinly, and wash very, very well (leeks can be gritty and muddy inside, so make sure you separate the layers).
- Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a wide pan over medium heat. Add the leeks and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the leeks are soft and beginning to brown slightly, about 10 minutes.
- When the leeks are done, remove them from the pan and set aside.
Prepare the mushrooms:
- As the leek slices cook, very finely mince the mushrooms.
- After the leeks are done and out of the pan, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon tablespoon of butter in the same (now empty) pan. (This will let a little of the leftover leek flavor infuse into the mushrooms.)
- Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the mushrooms give up their juices and begin to dry, 7 to 10 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool as you assemble your pizza.
Assemble, bake, and finish your pizza:
- Stretch the dough to an approximately 12” round. Brush with olive oil and top with the mozzarella and Port Salut.
- Sprinkle the sautéed leeks evenly over the cheese.
- Bake the pizza until the cheese melts and the crust is golden-brown, rotating once halfway through.
- As the pizza bakes, mix the truffle oil with the sautéed mushrooms. Taste and adjust if necessary, keeping in mind that the flavor of truffle can be overwhelming, so don’t go overboard!)
- When the pizza is done, remove it from the oven and put dollops of the truffle-mushroom mixture on top. Enjoy!