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Chef's Corner: Nick Bogacz and Eric Von Hansen of Caliente's

Caliente’s Pizza & Draft House turns game fowl into a game changer with the award-winning Quack Attack Pizza.



 

When you think of Pittsburgh, you think of Penguins, Pirates, and, of course, steel. Now you can add ducks to that list. No, not The Mighty Ducks, but the succulent game bird that melts in your mouth—all thanks to Caliente’s Pizza & Draft House, which created an award-winning pizza featuring seared duck breast with a housemade mushroom ragú and garlic butter. It’ll have you looking for fertile hunting grounds to bag your own bird for a specialty pie.

Started by delivery driver turned entrepreneur Nick Bogacz, Caliente’s jumped onto the scene in September 2012 and is now a go-to establishment for great pizza and tasty craft beers in the Pittsburgh area. In the six years since, Caliente’s has grown to four locations, with no signs of stopping.

In 2015, Bogacz brought his longtime friend and pizza consigliere, Eric Von Hansen, on board to be his regional chief, and propelled Caliente’s to one of the hottest pizza spots in Pittsburgh.

After a trade show visit that year, Bogacz returned to his home base and informed Von Hansen of the new mission for Caliente’s: to start competing in culinary contests—and win. Von Hansen took this mission to heart. With his 25 years of experience in fine dining, working with master chefs, and traveling the world sampling regional cuisines, he was
raring to go. 

However, in 2016, the only competition slot available was in the pan division. Having never crafted pan pizzas at Caliente’s, Von Hansen got to work by finding an old pan, seasoning it up and testing pies. 

The rest is history. Testing pan dough recipes, ingredient combinations and cooking styles, Von Hansen felt they were ready for the Las Vegas competition. After winning best in category, then advancing to the finals, the pizzeria won top honors in the Pan Division, and Caliente’s was solidified as a pizza powerhouse. 

Check out the award-winning recipe from Caliente’s Pizza & Draft House, The Quack Attack

 

 

The Quack Attack

Ingredients

6-8 oz. seared duck breast (recipe below)
Mushroom ragú (recipe below)
Garlic butter (recipe below)
18 oz. dough ball
6 oz. Fontinella cheese, grated
2 oz. baby arugula
3 oz. cherry tomatoes, quartered

 

Directions

Seared Duck Breast

Sear the duck in a pan over medium heat, fat side down, moving the duck around on all sides until it reaches a 130°F temperature. Remove the duck from the pan and let rest for 30 minutes. Slice it ¼” thick, leaving the skin on.

 

Mushroom Ragú

8 oz. shiitake mushrooms sliced, stems removed
8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
8 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced 
1 fresh garlic clove, minced 
1 shallot, minced 
3 oz. vegetable oil  
1 oz. fresh chives, finely chopped 
1 tsp. fresh thyme (leaves only) 
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper 
1 tsp. white truffle oil 

In a medium stock pot, add the oil, garlic, and shallots and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes or until the garlic is lightly browned. Add all of the mushrooms and stir. Cook for 5 minutes or until the mushrooms’ liquid reduces, then add the fresh herbs, salt, pepper and truffle oil. Cook for 5 more minutes, then let the mixture sit in the pan for 30 minutes. 

 

Garlic Butter 

1 lb. unsalted butter 
3 garlic cloves, minced 
1 tsp. granulated garlic 
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce  
1 tsp. kosher salt 
1 tsp. ground black pepper 
1 oz. grated Romano cheese 
2 oz. vegetable oil 

Cut the butter into small cubes and place in bowl. Let the butter come to room temperature. Add granulated garlic, salt, pepper, onion powder and Worcestershire sauce. In a pan, add oil and garlic and cook on medium heat until garlic is golden brown. When the garlic is cooked, add the oil-garlic mixture to the butter and mix it together until you achieve a creamy consistency. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Brush the garlic butter on the dough with a pastry brush, coating it evenly. Add the mushroom ragu’ over the garlic butter. Place the sliced duck breast over the mushroom ragú, then top with Fontinella cheese. Bake the pizza in the oven at 550° for 7 to 10 minutes. Cut into slices and top with the baby arugula and cherry tomatoes.

This pizza will take time, but once you have the ingredients prepped, they fly right out the door, like a duck in hunting season!

 

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