Learning about food, photography, and writing. Sharing what I find.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Pizza for Lunch and Dinner

I wasn't going to publish the pizza we made last night because it wasn't really an impressive feat. I didn't make the crust from scratch or stuff the sausages myself; I didn't even have the best topping ingredients on hand: no fresh tomato, no parmesan, no bacon, no nothin'. However, when it came bubbling out of the oven, I just had to take a picture (Sorry that there are no prep pictures. Like I said, this was a surprise success. Please click on the picture and see it in a bigger size for best drool-factor).

If you're anything like me, you will see a thing of beauty in this Spicy Italian Sausage Pie (Pizzas are "pies" to us New Haven natives. Technically, "Apizza Pie"). Somehow, despite several Grace Debacles with the dough and pizza stone—e.g. forgetting to spread cornmeal on the 550 degree preheated stone and virtually affixing the already manhandled dough to it—the pizza cooked up the best of any homemade pizza I've done. Look! I inadvertently got a golden brown bubble to form, just like the professionals! The mozzarella browned in perfect patches and the sausage crisped up nicely.

Here's how it happened:
  • 1 lump of pizza dough from your grocer's deli section (We discovered these as hungry and poor newlyweds. Big Y in CT has a great dough in the section of pre-made dinners-to-go. I bought this dough at Giant, also known as Stop & Shop in the North. It comes in a lump in a little plastic bag . . . real classy)
  • 1 hearty sprinkle of yellow cornmeal
  • 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. dried or fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/3 cup sharp or regular provolone cheese, shredded or chopped into small bits
  • 1 link of spicy Italian sausage, chopped, pan-fried to ensure done-ness, and chopped again
  • 1 ball of fresh mozzarella, cut into manageable slices and drained on a paper towel
  • 2-3 dashes of dried basil (Or, 2-3 leaves of fresh basil, chopped)
  • 1 pinch of kosher salt
Preheat your oven as high as it will go. Seriously. The oven I use goes to 550 degrees, so I do that. Preheat your baking stone while you prepare the Pizza Dough and Toppings.
Rub a little of the Olive Oil all over the ball of dough and set aside.
Prepare Rosemary, Provolone, Sausage, Mozzarella, and Basil as indicated above and set aside for easy access.
Begin stretching dough to desired thickness (I will refrain from begging you to embrace a thin-crust . . . the best pizza on earth). Avoid tearing and aim for an even thickness across entire dough.
(This is where teamwork or a pizza-peel become helpful)
If you have a pizza peel, sprinkle Cornmeal on peel to cover entire area the dough will touch.
Place stretched dough over cornmeal and press dough out further if desired.

If you DON'T have a pizza peel, hold dough awkwardly in your hands and have a nearby friend carefully remove molten-lava-hot stone from oven and place it on a heat-safe surface.
Sprinkle cornmeal on stone to cover entire area the dough will touch.
Place stretched dough over cornmeal and carefully press dough out further if desired.
**Continue with directions below, but move a little quicker, as the dough will be cooking under your very hands.

Drizzle remaining Olive Oil over blank dough and spread with hand over entire surface.
Sprinkle Rosemary evenly on dough.
Sprinkle Provolone evenly on dough.
Sprinkle Sausage evenly on dough.
Place Mozzarella evenly around dough, overlapping other ingredients as desired. Go as far out to the edge as you can. You do not need to leave room for the "crust," that will naturally form as the dough cooks up.
Sprinkle Basil evenly on dough.
Sprinkle Salt evenly on dough.
Carefully remove hot stone from oven and place on heat-safe surface.
Transfer pizza from peel to stone.
Place stone on the bottom floor of the oven if there are no coils down there, or on the bottom-most shelf if there are coils. Basically, as low as possible.
Cook for 7-10 minutes, based on hotness of oven and preference of done-ness. I like well-done pizza.

We did these about once a week during our first year of marriage. It helps that we both LOVE pizza, but it's also a fun and easy thing to do together in the kitchen (When I won't have a slight "cow" about him being underfoot while I run from burner to fridge to cabinet and back). I will say that we almost always put fresh tomatoes on our pizzas because of the balance it adds to the entire pie, slightly sweet to accompany the salty cheeses and bitter herbs. But, as I discovered last night, they aren't absolutely necessary.

Embarrassing end note: We polished off this pizza for a late lunch on Sunday. At 9pm, we got hungry again and ordered more pizza from a certain take-out place that will remain nameless, but shamelessly plugged its new recipe during the NFL Play-offs and totally convinced us to try it out. Not terrible . . . but still riddled with sodium and guilt. I think there are a few slices left in the fridge . . .


  1. Looks fabulous! Why have I never heard of a pizza peel?

  2. http://www.pizza-peels.com/products.html

    I guess I just registered for a wedding more recently than you did! Plus, I almost bought one the other day...