Monday, January 17, 2011
Sausage Meatball Pizza
Pizza is one of the foods I make almost every week and it is always greeted with enthusiasm. Over the years, we have made many varieties and countless pizzas -the most memorable being when the oven caught on fire during one of the kids' birthday parties. I don't remember what kind of pizzas they were, just that they survived the oven fire and all the kids were REALLY impressed by flames coming out of the oven. For more than just a couple people, I make several pizzas because a) people generally eat a lot of pizza, b) combinations of pizza preferences can be complicated, and c) leftover pizza is a good thing. At one point for my family the pizza-making parameters were: one cheese-loving vegetarian, two preferring non-dairy, one violently opposed to black olives, and one viewing black olives as essential. Two half and half pizzas (four varieties) was what I would make, which (usually) made five people happy with leftovers. Last week, I made one sausage meatball pizza for three people -light on the cheese, green olives instead of black (because that's what we had), and little sausage meatballs. I think, if you are only going to learn to make one thing, a homemade pizza dough might be the very best thing to learn. It is made with only flour, salt and yeast -and by shaping and rising again, it can be made into a fine loaf of bread, which is a really good thing to know how to do- and you can put on top WHATEVER ingredient, or combination of ingredients you choose to, or have on hand: caramelized onions, tomato sauce and cheese, or tomato sauce without cheese, and/or tiny shrimp or anchovies or Canadian bacon or pepperoni, green or red bell peppers, artichoke hearts, pesto with sliced zucchini and mushrooms......you get the idea.
Basic Pizza Dough
1 T. yeast
1 c. lukewarm water
2 1/2 c. flour, more or less (half whole wheat, if you like)
1 t. salt
Knead this, with a dough hook or by hand, to form a soft dough. Cover with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place for a few hours to rise until doubled in size. Deflate. Coat a pizza pan, or some type of a baking sheet, with 1 T. olive oil, turn the dough on it to coat the top and then press out evenly to fill pan and form a crust -be patient with the process.
For this pizza, I used Contadina Pizza Squeeze with some well-drained canned diced tomatoes, a sprinkle of Italian seasoning, cubed mozzarella, sliced green olives and Italian sausage meatballs.
The meatballs are no revelation but they were very good on the pizza. I took 1/2 lb bulk Italian sausage, formed small meatballs, browned them carefully in a caste-iron skillet, and topped the pizza with them. What could be simpler (well besides, just tomato sauce and cheese)?
Bake 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Best if cooled for 10 minutes, but we usually don't wait. For an impressive oven fire and a party no one will ever forget, go a rather long time without cleaning the oven, use a bit too much olive oil and push the crust right to the edge of the pan, then crank up the heat!