If your idea of a pizza party is a nightmarish afternoon spent at Chuck E. Cheese, trapped between a horde of sticky children and a gaggle of cranky parents, then get ready for a reboot. My version is a bit more sophisticated and modern—and it’s for adults only. (And no, I don’t mean that kind of adult party.)
I’ve added some fun and flavorful twists to the “stuff on carbs” paradigm that will appeal to a more grown-up palate. White pizza, for example, is often a rather bland and boring affair. Not so my white and green pizza. The garlic beans and gruyere combine to give it flavorful depth, topped off with delicate baby kale and fragrant sage. The mini muffaletta pizzas, meanwhile, are a reimagined version of one of my favorite sandwiches on the planet: the Mammoth Muffaletta at Central Grocery in New Orleans.
Zapiekanka is a popular Polish street food, and I’ve stayed pretty traditional with my version, only substituting barbecue sauce for the more standard ketchup. The ingredient combination might sound a bit strange at first—sautéed mushrooms, smoked sausage, cheddar cheese and barbecue sauce on French bread—but trust me, it’s popular for a very good reason.
Finally, the langos is my re-creation of a dish I enjoyed in Budapest’s Central Market Hall. The potato-based dough is deep fried in lard (though you can substitute vegetable oil), and topped with a very pungent combination of sour cream, Emmental cheese and raw red onion. One word of advice: You might not want to include this one at a pizza party for singles.
makes 4 langos
For the dough:
½ cup milk
2½ teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups of potato, boiled, peeled, mashed and cooled
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
¾ teaspoon salt
Enough high smoke point oil (such as canola) or lard for frying (enough to fill your skillet to a depth of 1 inch)
Toppings: (divided among the 4 langos)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup grated Emmental cheese
½ red onion, very thinly sliced
Warm the milk to about 100 F. and mix with the yeast and sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes. Mix the flour with the potatoes, oil and salt. Add the milk mixture and knead for 10 minutes. Place in a bowl and cover; let rise 1 hour. Punch down the dough, divide into 4 equal portions and form them into uniform balls. Let them rest for 20 minutes, covered, on a floured surface. In a deep-sided skillet, heat about 1 inch of oil at 350 F. Rather than roll out the dough, pick it up and gently pull it out into a circular shape (it’s OK if a few tiny holes appear in the dough). Next, gently lay the dough in the hot oil, and press the middle down with a spatula. This is important to ensure that the middle cooks properly. (You may want to wear an oven mitt to avoid oil burns.) Cook for about 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove and drain on a rack lined with paper towels. Divide the sour cream among the langos, followed by the cheese and onions. Eat while still warm or at room temperature.
Mini Muffaletta Pizzas
2 ciabatta rolls, split in half
½ cup of a good olive salad,
such as Boscoli’s
2 slices Mortadella, chopped
8 slices Genoa or Calabrese salami, chopped
½ cup shredded provolone
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Evenly divide the olive salad among the 4 rolls, followed by the Mortadella, salami and cheese. Bake until the cheese melts, 9-11 minutes.
2 8-inch slices French bread,
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
½ medium white onion, chopped
10 ounces white mushrooms,
stems removed, sliced
Dash of salt
2 links of smoked sausage (or
approximately ½ of a rope
of kielbasa), cut into ¼ inch coins
1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
Drizzle of barbecue sauce
Preheat the oven to 425 F. In a skillet over medium heat, saute the onions in the butter or olive oil until translucent. Add the mushrooms and a dash of salt and cook until soft and the moisture they release has evaporated. Evenly divide the cooked mushrooms among the 4 French bread slices. On top of this, evenly distribute the sausage coins, followed by the cheese. Bake until the cheese melts, 8-10 minutes. Top each slice with a squiggle of barbecue sauce.
White and Green Pizza
1 12-inch pizza shell (I like the rustic ciabatta from Trader Joe’s)
8 ounces ricotta
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
½ 14-ounce can white beans (such as cannellini or Great Northern), drained
¾ cup shredded gruyere cheese
Handful of baby kale
4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt and white pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Spread the ricotta on the pizza crust. Add the garlic slices, followed by the beans, gruyere, kale and sage. Lightly drizzle olive oil over the pizza and bake for 10-12 minutes on a preheated pizza stone or tin until the cheese is bubbling. Top with salt and white pepper to taste.