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Vallery Markel and Adam Sappington's Country Cat Pizza

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To help celebrate Pizza Week, Eater paired up chefs with neighborhood pizzerias to collaborate on special, one-week-only pizzas. First up: East Glisan Pizza Lounge welcomes the Country Cat's Adam Sappington.

[Avila, 3/13/14]

At the just-opened East Glisan Pizza Lounge, chef Vallery Markel usually tops her bacon pie with cream, kale, potatoes, and smoked mozzarella. But with the Country Cat chef/owner Adam Sappington in the equation, the bacon finds a new bedfellow: "It's like my favorite thing in the world, onions and bacon," Sappington says. To create what the East Glisan team is calling "the Country Cat Pizza," Markel (who was the opening sous chef at Oven & Shaker) and Sappington (who has several years of pizza-making under his belt during stints at Pazzo and Wildwood) joined forces one afternoon to play with dough and simultaneously talk about pizza-making and the restaurant business. "This is less a photo shoot, it's actually counseling," Markel jokes.

The dough: Markel's current dough recipe is a simple one: water, flour, salt, and a commercial yeast, though she's currently working on swapping the yeast for a sourdough starter in future batches. East Glisan's dough, whipped up in 24-pound batches, gets a bulk fermentation for 24 hours at room temperature, and another 24-hour fermentation in the walk-in. According to Markel, that delayed fermentation "develops a little bit of sourness, some complexity to the chew, and some blistering and texture." And when working the dough into pizza rounds, Markel prefers things bubbly: "I like to tap the rim down and keep the bubbles."

The pizza: Sappington and Markel dreamed up a balsamic-braised bacon pizza with roasted butternut squash puree, goat cheese, and arugula. "When I was at Wildwood, we had to come up with a new pizza every day: I would wrack my brain tremendously for the 11 years I was there," Sappington says. "So the thing that got to me this time of year was, 'What's the base going to be?' And that's the way we'd view it over there."

For this one-week-only pizza special, Sappington eschewed out-of-season tomatoes in favor of a roasted butternut squash base (pureed with ricotta, cream cheese, herbs, and sherry vinegar for a touch of acidity). On top, the duo add a layer of Nueske's bacon that's been cooked down with red onion, garlic, and a splash of red wine (snatched from a couple open bottles at the East Glisan bar). The pizza heads into the oven with dabs of goat cheese, then topped with arugula, lemon zest, and a splash of olive oil to finish.

The details: The Country Cat pizza will be available at East Glisan Pizza Lounge all through pizza week, once the doors open tomorrow (Tuesday): It's $13 for a 12" pie, $24 for 16". East Glisan's hours of operation: 4p.m. to midnight, Tuesday through Sunday.
· East Glisan Pizza Lounge [Official site]
· All Pizza Week 2014 Coverage [Eater PDX]

Country Cat Dinnerhouse & Bar

7937 SE Stark Street, Portland, OR 97215 Visit Website