To help celebrate Pizza Week, Eater challenged chef Sarah Schafer to add a pizza to Irving Street Kitchen's popular weekend brunch menu. This is what transpired:
After taste-testing "about 100" possible pizza iterations (and lamenting the restaurant's lack of a pizza-appropriate oven), Irving Street Kitchen chef Sarah Schafer ultimately turned to the deep-fryer for her take on a brunch-appropriate pizza. ISK's Eater special is topped with red sauce, Johnston County Ham (from North Carolina), house-smoked mozzarella, and basil. But the key is the dough, which bubbles in the deep-fryer before hitting the broiler.
According to Schafer (who spent time in a pizzeria kitchen, at Boston's Tosca), the dough was inspired by famed baker Jim Lahey of New York City's Sullivan Street Bakery. "He makes unbelievable pizza in New York City," Schafer says of Lahey's no-knead dough, which spawned its very own cookbook, My Pizza: The Easy No-Knead Way to Make Spectacular Pizza at Home. "You let the yeast do all the work," Schafer says of the recipe. "So, you bring the dough together and just let it sit: It sits out for 18 hours and ferments and grows; you never have to re-knead it."
The pizza: ISK's "mixed version" of Lahey's dough uses different flour, a little more sea salt, and a little more yeast, a combination created to old up to the deep-fryer. ("The others turned into calzones," Schafer says.) The no-knead dough gets worked from ball form to pie by hand and "needs a little more love when you stretch it," Schafer says, noting that even with traditional doughs, she's "a firm believer in stretching by hand." After popping the dough into the fryer until it puffs up, Schafer brushes the crust with garlic oil before adding the cheese and sauce — whose recipe was learned from an old family friend. The pizza gets a few minutes in the broiler to melt the cheese, and once out, Schafer layers on the ham, which is sliced at the restaurant's front charcuterie counter. The result is surprisingly light and balanced between smoke, sweet sauce, and salt.
The details: The fried Johnston ham pizza is now available on Irving Street's happy hour menu and weekend brunch menu, through the end of Pizza Week weekend. Hours of operation: HH, Friday from 4:30p.m. to 6p.m.; Saturday and Sunday brunch, 10a.m. to 2:30p.m.
· Irving Street Kitchen [Official site]
· All Previous Pizza Week 2014 Coverage [Eater PDX]