I saw Kenji Lopez-Alt’s recipe for Pull-Apart Pepperoni and Garlic Knots. They’re obviously not vegetarian. The glutton in me was also concerned. Why have simple garlic knots when they could be hedonistically stuffed with mozzarella?
My experiments resulted in this: cast-iron pull-aparts stuffed with mozzarella & sauteed mushrooms. This is good. We served it with homemade tomato sauce and polished the whole set off in one night.
The details: We used an enamelled cast iron braiser for baking, which resulted in even cooking and nice browning on the bottom/sides.
Serves: about 24 pull-aparts
- Pizza dough, sufficient for about 2 pizzas (store bought or fresh)
- Shredded mozzarella (300-400 grams, to taste)
- Oyster mushrooms (200 grams — I used black oyster mushrooms)
- Garlic (8-12 cloves)
- Dried red pepper flakes (1 tbsp)
- Finely chopped fresh parsley (about half a cup)
- Butter (about 4 tbsp)
- Extra virgin olive oil (about 4 tbsp)
- Chop the mushrooms (not too large).
- In a separate non-stick pan, melt the butter on medium-low heat and add the mushrooms. Slow cook the mushrooms, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until they release juices and are cooked all the way through (about 10 minutes). Remove from the heat. Drain, reserving the butter and mushrooms in separate containers. Mix half the parsley in with the mushrooms.
- Mince the garlic (not too fine).
- Heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet with high sides* on medium-low heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté just until the raw smell is gone. Remove the skillet from the heat and pour the mixture into the strained butter from sautéing mushrooms. Do not wipe the skillet clean.
- With clean, dry, hands, grab chunks of pizza dough approximately the size of a golf ball. Press onto a floured surface and roll/stretch out with your fingers until you have a circle approximately 3″-4″ in diameter. Add a spoon of the shredded mozzarella and mushroom parsley mixture. Pinch the edges of the dough circle together until there is a sealed ball. Repeat until no dough remains.
Important: the oil from the mushrooms will prevent the dough from sticking to itself, so don’t overfill the dough balls – leave enough extra dough around the edges that you can pinch it all together at the end.
- Toss the dough balls into the olive oil-butter mixture until coated. Place them in the skillet from the outside in, spacing them out evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 2-4 hours until fully risen.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and brush the pull-aparts with some extra olive oil.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Pull out the skillet and quickly top with the remaining mozzarella. Return the skillet to the oven and reduce the temperature to 400 degrees.
- Remove the skillet from the oven when the pull-aparts are golden-brown (about another 10-15 minutes). Top with the remaining parsley. Serve fresh with tomato sauce.
* If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet, do this in a regular frying pan, and do the baking in an oven-safe dish of your choice.
You can see that I’ve started off with some cheese on top and added extra halfway through — but when I do it again, I would use just add all the topping cheese halfway through. Adding parsley before baking didn’t do much, but didn’t detract.
The finished product!
It’s a little hard to see how things can be pulled-apart in the first picture, so I included this. They went quickly…