Clearly, there are some things I have yet to learn about foraging. But day drinking in a forest while searching for meaty mushrooms? Count me in.
The next several hours were spent staring at green-laced ground on the hunt for chanterelles, the amber colored fungal kings of the Pacific Northwest. We meandered through the damp air down trails of lush forest while the rain pitter pattered through thick canopies overhead. We sipped on our Occidentals and listened to Tiffany’s wife Cat – who is an actual mushroom scientist (no, really) – talk about the forest fungi we were passing with each step. She showed me the mushrooms that explode into a million pieces when kicked. Like a kind of fungal firework of sorts. She pointed out the Super Mario Bros mushrooms with the red hats and white spots, only the ones we came across had already grown out of their kid spots. And she taught me a very important lesson that I’m going to pass on to you here: Mushrooms go into hiding when they sense greed. Duly noted.
I was probably not the best foraging companion because, in addition to knowing next to nothing, it seemed like every three minutes I was going, “Oooh, is this one?”
Just when I thought I was a lost cause – there are so many mushrooms in these parts, y’all – I spotted one orange little wavy cap bursting through the dirt-covered forest floor. Haphazard primitive gills lined its underbelly and ran all the way down its stem, a telltale sign that its a chanterelle and not a lookalike impostor. “Okay, for real this time. I think this is a chanterelle.”
It was. And let’s just say I’m not sure I’ve been this excited in a while. As in, there was lots of hand clapping and there may have even been a group hug at one point, I don’t know, you’ll have to ask them.
The next day I made a pizza with all of our gorgeous chanterelles. A pizza that my husband swears is so aromatic that you can smell it from halfway down the block. I made it again the following week because I couldn’t get it out of my head, off of my taste buds.
And now I’m making it again for you here. Because pizza recipes that are this good – with deep yeasty crusts smeared with garlicky béchamel, with buttered thyme mushrooms and just a hint of lemony spice from the addition of gently massaged arugula – they deserve to be shared.
Ideally, alongside trail beers and with foraging friends.
- ½ cup of warm water
- 1 teaspoon of active dry yeast
- ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon of very cold water
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 2 teaspoons of kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon of table salt)
- 2 cups of typo 00 flour (or all-purpose flour*)
- 1 ½ cups of whole milk
- 3 tablespoons of butter, divided into 2 and 1 tablespoons
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced and divided into parts of 2 and 1
- 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon of kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional, add for spice if desired)
- 1 shallot, sliced thinly
- ¾ pounds of fresh chanterelle mushrooms, scrubbed clean and chopped roughly
- 3 sprigs of thyme, stems removed
- ½ teaspoon of poultry seasoning
- ½ teaspoon of kosher salt, plus more for seasoning arugula
- ½ teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper, plus more for seasoning arugula
- 1 tablespoon of semolina flour (or cornmeal)
- 7-8 ounces of whole milk mozzarella, grated using the large holes of a box grater (or sliced into thin strips)
- 2 cups of arugula
- 1 teaspoon of olive oil
- ½ lemon, juiced
- parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
- The night before you’re ready to eat the pizza, pour warm water into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Add yeast and allow to proof for 5-10 minutes. If you notice your yeast hasn’t proofed (turned to a kind of foam) in the warm water, it likely means your yeast is old, meaning you’ll need to purchase new active yeast before continuing. Add cold water, sugar, and kosher salt to the bowl and stir to combine. Add flour to the bowl in 3-4 increments. If you’re combining by hand, you’ll need to begin using your hands to integrate the flour about halfway through the flour pour—turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and supple, about 10 minutes; If you’re using a stand mixer with the dough hook attached, look for the dough to begin pulling away from the sides of the bowl and then knead until dough is smooth and supple, about 7 minutes.
- Coat the dough ball with olive oil, place in a large bowl (large enough for it to double in size), and cover with plastic wrap. Place dough in the refrigerator to rise overnight, about 12-48 hours (ideally, around 24).*
- Preheat the oven to 550 degrees F, or as high as your oven will go. Place your pizza stone or a large cast iron skillet (I used a 14-inch skillet) on the middle rack of your oven while you begin work on the sauce and toppings.
- In a small saucepan, heat the milk over medium-low heat until just simmering. You’ll notice it’s hot enough when a thin film develops on the surface and small bubbles form. Remove from heat, cover with a lid, and set aside.
- In a separate medium saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the 2 cloves of minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add flour and continue cooking until well combined, about 1 minute, but do not allow the flour to turn color. If it begins to change color, reduce heat. Add the hot milk, a little bit at a time, to the flour mixture, along with the cayenne and salt, whisking continuously as you add. Use your judgment while you’re adding the milk as you may not need to use all of it—I typically use about 1-¼ cups, but like to have the extra in case the sauce thickens too much while I work on the mushrooms. Once milk is well whisked into the sauce, set sauce aside.
- In a large saucepan, add the remaining tablespoon of butter and heat over medium heat until melted. Add shallot and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add remaining clove of minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Finally, increase the heat to high and add the chanterelles, thyme, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper. Cook until mushrooms are tender, about 2 minutes. Pour out any liquids that came from the mushrooms and set skillet aside.
- Stretch dough into a circle and lay on a pre-heated pizza stone/cast iron skillet that is dusted with semolina flour (or cornmeal). Pour white sauce all over pizza surface, spreading with the back of a spoon and stopping 1 inch from the edge. Add mozzarella and scatter chanterelles over sauce and cheese. Brush olive oil on top of the crust edges.
- Cook in pre-heated oven for 7-8 minutes or until crust turns a golden brown and pizza is melted. While pizza is cooking, toss arugula in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and massage gently with your hands until arugula is softened, about 20-30 seconds. Remove pizza from oven, top with arugula, slice, and serve, garnishing with freshly grated parmesan if desired.