Flatbread pizzas provide operations a nice limited-time offering
Flatbreads have been around thousands of years. Our early ancestors, once they learned to harness fire, took grain, water and salt and cooked the concoction on rocks heated by flames. The flour they made from whatever grains they had on hand (depending on where they were in the world) was different from what we use today, but the end result laid the groundwork for what would one day become pizza.
Most flatbreads aren’t leavened. Today they are easy enough to make in a pizza kitchen for those who want to offer something different as a limited time offering, for instance. Or you can simply cut down the size of your pizza dough, roll it out really thinly, give it a shape and call it a flatbread pizza. It won’t really be a true flatbread, but your customers won’t care as they’ll appreciate the twist with your LTO.
We recently experimented with flatbreads and flatbread-like doughs in the Pizza Today test kitchen, and the resulting creativity yielded some great pizzas. I’m going to start with my personal favorite — which had a lemon-dill cream sauce as a base and was simply decadent.
I’m the guy who, after a long training run, has no problem drinking pickle juice right out of the jar to the extreme disgust of my family. Hey, it provides my body hydration and salt — and tastes delicious!
Okay, so pickle juice may not be for everyone. But if you love the taste of dill pickles, by extension you’re a fan of dill. The aromatic herb, popular in both Europe and Asia, is often used in seafood dishes. But recently in the Pizza Today test kitchen we discovered it to be an amazing match with chicken, mushrooms and peppers when utilized in a creamy dill sauce. The resulting pizza wasn’t just beautiful, but downright delicious. In fact, I had hoped to sneak a piece of it to a friend of mine who provided the original inspiration for the pizza when she asked me if I had ever had a pizza with dill pickles on it. But no such luck — the magazine and Pizza Expo staff devoured the thing within minutes.
For the sauce, we started with a base of sour cream. We added in some ricotta, as well as heavy whipping cream to thin it a bit. We hit it with lemon juice for acid, then added fresh garlic, salt and pepper for flavor. Lastly, we were liberal with mixing in fresh dill to give it the profile we sought. It turned out remarkably well.
Using that sauce as the base, we added pulled grilled chicken, fresh chopped Portobello mushrooms, crumbled bacon and roasted bell peppers. We then topped it with Asiago cheese and fresh mozzarella. Post bake we hit it with more fresh dill for color and flavor. This pizza smelled and tasted absolutely amazing!
We were thinking fall a bit with the next pizza and wanted to use fresh apple. We knew it would need to be a white pie as well, so we went with an olive oil/light garlic base and added chicken sausage, honey crisp apple, arugula and provolone cheese. As simple as this pizza was, the chicken sausage and apple paired remarkably well together, and the arugula made a nice, slightly bitter contrast to the sweetness of the apple. In all, this one was another winner as well.
Either of these pizzas could be ideal LTOs this autumn, and your bar staff could have fun offering up beer and wine pairings for your servers to suggest with each one. Get in the kitchen with the ingredients and experiment until you find a variation of your liking. You may enjoy the combinations we utilized, or the process may spur your own creativity and you may end up taking the ideas in another direction. But, either way, the key to a fun LTO is to step outside the norm and offer your customers something they can’t get on your menu daily.
While flatbreads obviously are not a prerequisite to doing this, you might find working with them provides your staff and customers a break from the norm, and it’ll give your service crew a nice story to tell as they connect with your guests over a brief pizza history lesson.
The emphasis here is to push the boundaries just a bit, but not too far, while having fun and offering your customer base a delicious reason to order from your pizzeria more frequently.
Jeremy White is Editor-in-Chief at Pizza Today.