Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Mercato has kicked off autumn with a brand new event. Titled The Great Pizza Bakeoff, the restaurant has become the battleground for five local journalists and five chefs battling it out through their own version of a good pizza. Participants have included Janice Leung Hayes, May Chow, and Mercato’s own Anthony Burd, and finally it’s my turn next. And I’ve got a secret ingredient.
Having developed a hobby in canning and preserving, I have spent most of my weekends turning seasonal fruits and vegetables into jams and preserves for a number of years. When I heard of an opportunity to participate in Mercato’s pizza bakeoff, my first thought was a sweet pizza revolving around a fruity jam, but the idea of a savoury spread won in the end.
But first—for any pizza, the dough is the most important element. According to Anthony Burd, chef de cuisine at Mercato, the pizza dough used at the restaurant is made fresh every day with a high percentage of water, ensuring a fluffy texture on the crust.
The dough takes a few hours for the proofing process, building size and structure in order for the yeast to yield an airy dough.
The dough is pressed and stretched thinly before toppings are added. Inspired by a traditional breakfast spread, I decided that my pizza would be topped with mozzarella and grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, followed by a generous portion of Italian sausage, button mushrooms, and a runny egg on top before it all goes into the wood fired oven.
What sets the pizza apart, however, is an ingredient I have come to enjoy making a lot: bacon jam, a unique preserve using abundant smoked bacon with a caramelised onion base, adding sweetness to the savoury notes from the cured meat. The bacon jam is set to highlight the smokiness and texture of the finished pizza.
If you like the sound of that, my pizza will be going head to head with a new creation by Sushi Kuu’s front man Satoru Mukogawa, in a two-week bakeoff event running from October 9 to 23, 2017.
Mercato, 8/F California Tower, 32 D’Aguilar Street, Lan Kwai Fong, Central; +852 3706 8567
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