I'll tell you what: If you don't like pizza, there is something wrong with you. I state that unequivocally, without fear of contradiction. It would not surprise me to learn that neither George Bush nor this man likes pizza.
I do understand why many people would not like anchovy pizza. I happen to love anchovy pizza, but can't usually make it for myself because I typically share my pizza with my little boy who wants only cheese. If I do a half-and-half thing, he sees the anchovies on top of mine, and thinks they have somehow contaminated the whole thing. Plus, it can be unpleasant to end up getting a large piece of anchovy in a smallish bite. So, last night, I set out to find a way to have my anchovy pizza and still share with my little boy.
This is not so much an actual recipe as it is a method. Or a series of suggestions, if you like. Quantities are based on taste, and many substitutions could be made. For example, any pizza dough would work, and you could substitute a different type of mushroom if shitakes aren't available. In any case, these are the ingredients I used:
1 package Trader Joe's pizza dough
shredded mozzarella cheese
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
approximately 1 1/2 cups simple marinara sauce leftover from last time I made pasta
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
3 anchovy filets, chopped
2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped off woody stems
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. (Note: This is for the Trader Joe's crust. Use whatever temperature settings work best for the crust you are using.)
Heat about two tablespoons olive oil in a saute pan and toss in the mushrooms. Do not add salt. Saute, stirring occasionally, until mushroom water has evaporated and mushrooms are caramelized. This can take awhile. Last night, it took about thirty minutes. Add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper toward the end of the process. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside.
Roll out or stretch the pizza dough to fit your taste and your pan. In this case, I decided to make a thickish crust on a round pizza pan. Brush or spray the crust with olive oil, and then sprinkle with about 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella. The cheese should just dot the crust, not form a layer. (This is a tasty way to weight the dough so it doesn't puff too much when you par-bake it.) Bake the pizza crust in the oven for ten to twelve minutes, until golden brown.
While the crust is baking, heat a couple teaspoons of olive oil in the pan you used for the mushrooms. Add the anchovies and cook until they "melt" into the oil. Add the minced garlic, marinara sauce, and thyme and stir until anchovies and garlic are well incorporated into the sauce.
Remove the crust from the oven and spread with the sauce. Sprinkle caramelized mushrooms over the sauce. Top with shredded mozzarella to taste. Pop the pizza back into the oven for about ten more minutes, or until mozzarella is bubbling and browned in places.
Slice pizza into a manageable number of pieces and eat! Well, you might want to wait for it to cool first. Or you could put it on a plate with a sprig of thyme if you're into presentation. Some people would probably take a picture before they take a bite!
Yummmm! Well, that's just me. The anchovies lent a savory depth to the sauce, and the mushrooms were almost smoky and . . . well, they tasted brown. In a good way. The thyme brightened everything up a bit, whilst the tomato sauce provided a touch of sweetness.
I would love to tell you my little boy ate it up and loved it, but after I spent a good hour working on that pizza, he told me he'd rather have the Kid Cuisine my mom had gotten at the supermarket. Damn you, Kid Cuisine, with your whimsical characters and included crappy desserts!
Next time I make this, I will make the crust thinner. To be honest, I was just a little lazy about it last night. Depending on who you're serving, just about any vegetables could probably be added. I think it would be especially good with some thinly sliced eggplant, but I'm an eggplant whore. In general, I really liked this savory, salty pizza. As with so many sauces that include anchovies, the taste was not the strong, fishy one many people expect, but the anchovies' presence was noticeable and tasty!