I am almost embarrassed to affix the title “Somewhat Weekly” to this recipe, since it’s been more than a week-or-so since I’ve last shared a kitchen adventure. I’m hoping that the ‘somewhat’ has given me a generous grace period. And, in my defense, I’ve been spending a lot of time in recipe development over the past few weeks. So here’s one of our creations, emphasizing both the seasonal and local aspects of my cooking quests.
I was so fortunate to be exposed to a wide variety of food while growing up, as well as a ‘make-do’ philosophy when it came to cooking and sharing food among the mix of cultures in our city neighborhood. Techniques and spices seemed to be the key to identifying the ‘cuisine’ rather than the actual ingredients (purchased, foraged, donated or shared)
When I was entrusted, for the first time in 10 years, to cook the shucked oysters we received as a very generous Christmas gift, I tried to add a little of my own history while still respecting the particular flavor and origin of sweet, fresh Chesapeake oysters. Here is my creation…New York City meets New Haven meets Southern Maryland waters. Enjoy!
Chesapeake White Pizza
- Chop 1 pint of oysters, and set aside to drain. (Save the liquor for another recipe!). Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. (“White pies” usually use littleneck clams…enjoy the abundance of your environment)
- Meanwhile, heat 2TBL of olive oil in a saute pan. Dice a medium-sized yellow onion and some garlic cloves. (We used about 5 cloves, which may be strong for some, but on the other hand, we have never been bitten by vampires) If you have access to fresh herbs, grab some fresh oregano and strip the stems. Dry oregano will work, too….just a pinch. Add all the ingredients in this step into the hot pan, and heat, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent. Toss in some salt and pepper to taste. Set aside the onion mixture, and save the oil.
- We use a purchased gluten-free pizza crust, but make or buy whatever crust you prefer. (Traditionally, a white pizza has a thin and crispy crust.) Brush the crust with the oil from the saute pan. Leave a bit around the edge dry.
- Layer the oiled crust with some real mozzerella cheese. Not the pre-shredded kind with additives…it won’t work. (Plus, it’s just nasty. No need for chemicals in cheese…use real food!) We are fortunate to know someone who makes mozzerella weekly. You can make your own, or get some from the market if you don’t know a cheesemaker. When the pie bakes, the seasoned oil and mozzerella mix together, and form the white sauce. This is key to the white pizza experience, so no cheating on the cheese! Now add some finely-grated Parmesan. I love good cheese.
- Now toss the drained oysters with the onion mixture from Step 2. Gently spread this over the cheese-covered pizza crust, keeping a dry edge.
- Bake at 500 degrees, checking after 10 minutes until done. You are looking for the formation of white sauce under the oysters, for one. If you are going with the traditional style, you will also be looking for the bottom of the crust to be brown and crispy.
- Sprinkle with fresh parsley, if you have it. If you don’t have it, skip this step. Dried parsley has no place on this pizza.
This is a messy pizza, so let it cool a bit before slicing. We sprinkle ours with crushed hot pepper, too, but that is one of my multi-cultural quirks.
I know this seafood-and-cheese combo is strange for many people…but trust me (and millions of other pizza lovers in the North East) This combo is fantastic, and the oysters truly do make a lovely complement to the other flavors. We plan on making this again, and sharing it with the folks that provide our oysters.
If there’s a theme to this recipe, it would be, “honor your history, and embrace your present”. Or just, “eat what you’ve got”!
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