Dirty Work: The Ultimate Pizza Party with Patrick Connolly of Rider

Patrick demonstrates that a pizza can be topped with anything from classic mozzarella and basil to lemon slices, greens, and carrots.

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Oct 25 2016, 7:00pm

Welcome back to Dirty Work, our new series of dispatches from the MUNCHIES Garden. We're inviting chefs, bartenders, and personalities in the world of food and drink to explore our edible playground and make whatever the hell inspires them with our rooftop produce. In the latest installment, Patrick Connolly throws us the pizza party of our dreams.

What's on your rider?

Ours: pizza. Lots and lots of pizza.

Brooklyn eatery Rider, nestled in the music venue National Sawdust, gets its name from the requests for food and drink that artists make in their booking contracts. James Beard award-winning chef Patrick Connolly, who is at Rider's helm, offers diners, in place of band members, a taste of home with a twist; food that is familiar and comforting, but touched by the magic wand of his innovation. Think schmaltz focaccia alongside chicken nuggets; a French dip sandwich with marrow, anchovy butter, and black garlic jus; or a BLT with an extra "b"—for a briny sprinkle of bonito flakes.

It was about time that someone combined the offerings of our rooftop garden with the powers of the pizza oven in the MUNCHIES kitchen. And along came Connolly, more than up to the task.

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All photos by Farideh Sadeghin

Connolly grabbed big bunches of carrots, spring onions, mustard greens, and herbs, including nasturtium leaves, fennel fronds, and chamomile flowers.

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This might not look like the bounty that you'd expect to top a pizza—uhhh, where are the powdery shreds of packaged mozzarella and the Boboli sauce packets?, you might ask—but guys, we're talking about real pizza. From scratch. No rules for the toppings other than that they have to be fresh, delicious, and harmonious.

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You've got to start with a great dough.

Connolly's is simple: superfine 00 flour, active dry yeast, and salt. Mix, knead, rest, and knead a little more.

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With the dough ready for action, Connolly prepared a couple of pestos with carrot tops and mustard greens. A single pizza would be ravaged in mere milliseconds in the MUNCHIES kitchen, so thankfully, he was ready to put together a few different kinds, from classic to kooky.

He made a quick tomato sauce as well: just whole peeled tomatoes, sugar, and salt.

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The oven was blazing, so the time came to select toppings. One started with mortadella slices, pesto sauce, and mozzarella; another with speck and fennel fronds; yet another with lemon slices and onions. And, of course, a classic Margherita, with just-picked basil leaves and tomato sauce.

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Less than a minute in the scorching oven is required to brown the bubbling crust and melt the cheese to pizza perfection.

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And, of course, the proof is in the first bite, as Connolly was happy to demonstrate.

Nailed it.

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Soon, Connolly had an impressive spread of pizzas, some sprinkled with fresh greens, herbs, and flowers. Ain't nothing wrong with the pepperoni slice from your corner spot, but there's something to be said for both the "less is more" and "more is more" approaches when it comes to pizza toppings.

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Slice up your creations and wait for the hungry scavengers to come and happily stuff their faces.

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We've never met a pizza we don't like, but we have met pizzas we loved. And Connolly kindly provided the recipe for this carrot-pesto-topped pie, which was particularly babely. Never throw away your carrot tops again, friends.

RECIPE: Pesto-Topped Pizza
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After seeing Patrick's impressive pizza party, we feel confident that his pizza will be on your rider, too. If anyone asks, we're with the band.