Skyr & Brennevín sauce, wildberry jam, caramelized fennel & crimini mushrooms, black lava salt, licorice
While we already made one pizza in anticipation of our trip to Iceland, this one was inspired by a lot of the ingredients and flavors we found while we were there. We found that while a lot of traditional Icelandic foods use harsh, acquired-taste Viking flavors like brennevín, licorice and fermented shark, Icelanders themselves tend to offset this by favoring sweet, rich flavors like skyr, fruit jam (especially crowberry), decadent Icelandic butter, and candy. They really love candy.
For this pizza, a lot of the ingredients were things we brought back from our travels, so there are obviously a lot of substitutions you can make here. If you can't find brennevín, Iceland's signature beverage, you can substitute an aquavit or even a vodka. Skyr can actually be found in a lot of grocery stores these days, though if you can't find it you can use another yogurt. And of course black lava salt isn't quite so ubiquitous away from volcanoes—you may be able to find some kind of charcoal salt, but even a typical coarse sea salt will work fine.
We also should note that the caramelized fennel & mushroom is an adapted version of a fennel recipe from Ottolenghi's Plenty—even though that cookbook is all about Middle Eastern flavors, the fennel has that licorice-y flavor that goes perfectly with the rest of this Scandinavian pizza.
1 ball of pizza dough
flour for dusting
semolina flour for pizza stone
salt & pepper
a few pinches of chopped black licorice
a couple pinches of black lava salt (or something similar)
a couple dollops of skyr (we used Siggi's plain yogurt)
a few spoonfuls of wildberry jam
For the sauce:
2 small containers of Siggi's (or another skyr)
dash of heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon licorice powder (optional)
4 tablespoons brennevín
For the fennel & mushrooms:
2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed, tough outer layers removed (keeping the bulb together), & cut lengthwise into 1/4-1/2 inch slices
handful of crimini mushrooms (or other mixed mushrooms), trimmed & sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 tablespoons butter
1.5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
Preheat your oven to 550° F, or as hot as it will go. While it's heating, start with the fennel: in a large heavy pan, heat the butter & oil over high heat until the butter starts to froth. Then add the fennel slices in a single layer. Let them sit (patiently—don't fuss with them) until the bottom side is starting to turn golden brown, about 2 minutes. Turn and cook the other side for another minute or two. You can add the mushrooms about halfway through, stirring them gently without disturbing the fennel pieces.
Once the fennel is seared on both sides and the mushrooms have softened & browned slightly, remove them from the pan and add the sugar & fennel seeds, plus salt & pepper to taste. Fry for about 30 seconds, then stir the mushrooms & fennel back in, caramelizing gently for a minute or two.
Remove the veggies from the pan but reserve whatever liquid is left from the mushrooms. In the same pan, start making the sauce by melting the butter over medium heat. Now you're going to turn it into a roux by stirring in the flour, letting a paste form.
Once it's starting to brown, deglaze the pan with a dash of heavy cream and stir in the skyr. Let it simmer a bit before taking it off the heat—it may thicken slightly, but not as much as if you were using all cream instead of skyr. Stir in the brennevín and the licorice powder, if using. Set aside until ready to use.
Next, prepare your dough using the instructions on the right. After you've baked it for a minute, take it out and brush it lightly with olive oil. Spoon a layer of the sauce on first, followed by a few spoonfuls of the jam. Scatter the mushrooms on top and then lay the fennel slices evenly across the pizza.
Pop it in the oven and bake until the crust is a nice golden brown. Top with a few extra dollops of skyr, then sprinkle with the lava salt & black licorice, and enjoy!
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