Seems that lately, a lot of my decisions about dinner come to me while I’m driving. Maybe it’s because I spend a lot of time in the car, or maybe it’s because the moment I leave work, I try to stop thinking about work and need to clear my mind by thinking about something else.
I was thinking about Italian sausage. I had plenty, so what could I do with it? Couldn’t do hubby’s favorite pasta dish, since I don’t have cream cheese (used that up with the everything bagels… mmmmm). Didn’t have enough peppers and onions to do my Godfather-inspired sausage and peppers dish (future post, perhaps). Hmm.
Brilliant, I know. I looked up a few recipes online, begged hubby to be willing to wait a while for dinner, and got to work.
First step was to get the dough started. Heat up some water so that it’s warm – not cold, not hot – and add some yeast.
Mix it up and let it sit for about 10 minutes to let it get creamy.
Next, mix together a few cups of bread flour, some salt, and some sugar.
Feel a little guilty about your gluten-free friends that will read this and curse you for tempting them with something they can’t have. But only a little guilty.
Add a little olive oil.
And the yeast/ water mixture.
Mix it up, and you should get something that resembles this. Cover it with a clean dishtowel and set it aside to rise.
While that was rising, I turned to the pizza sauce. It called for crushed tomatoes and tomato puree. I subbed stewed for crushed (how different could they really be?) and regular tomato sauce for the puree. Wasn’t real sure what the difference there would have been, but the large amount that they called for led me to think they didn’t just want tomato paste. And wow. In re-reading this recipe, I realized that I should have added two cans of sauce, not just one. Interesting.
In prepping, I put some of my added ingredients straight into the can. I think I didn’t want to start stuff on the stove just yet, something about timing it right with the dough. Go with it. Here’s
some a good bit of brown sugar.
And Italian seasoning.
And salt and crushed red pepper flakes.
Okay, now for the stovetop fun. Heat up some olive oil and add a bunch of garlic. It looked so sparkly and pretty. Maybe I was just hungry.
Add everything else. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for a half hour.
That was easy enough.
I had some extra time, so it was time to start prepping my sausage. This nifty tool was a Christmas gift from someone who understood my reluctance to use metal utensils in my non-stick pans. This is a breaker-upper, and evidently the perfect utensil to break up and crumble Italian sausage, which is normally sticky and wants to cling in big clumps.
That’s all you get. No after pictures of the sausage crumbling because I am dumb. But I will say that I also used that utensil for the sauce, since I had so many halved tomatoes and I didn’t really want big tomato chunks. Worked pretty well.
Okay, back to the dough. It’s bigger now!
I covered the counter with some flour and rolled the dough into a circular shape before I remembered that I don’t have a circular pan or a pizza stone, just baking sheets. So then rather than re-rolling (and potentially making it tough), I just smooshed it in a rectangular pan.
Topped with sauce. In retrospect, I could have used a lot more, but I was worried about overdoing it in my enthusiasm.
And you know the drill for the rest. I added Mexican blend cheese because that’s what I had on hand. I believe I also included some grated Parmesan, and then sliced up another of those Colby-Monterey cheese sticks for a little added cheesiness.
I sliced up a bit of onion and green bell pepper VERY thinly and sprinkled them on top.
And then just grabbed some handfuls of that beautiful sausage and threw it on top.
Twenty minutes in a 350-degree oven later, this is what I had.
So beautiful. So delicious.
I think hubby was ready to eat and annoyed that I was hovering over the pizza making comments about how good it looked/ smelled and taking pictures. So then I shifted it to a cutting board and we dug in.
Here are my thoughts:
Dough: very satisfied! The only problem was that it was too soft. I like soft, doughy pizza, but this was a little like putting pizza on a slice of white bread. I think this would have been fixed with a pizza stone, but in lieu of that, I might bake the dough for a few minutes alone next time to make it a little more firm and crispy. Taste-wise, just what it should be. If you’re making it for more than 3-4 people, I’d suggest making two pizzas, but it it was a good amount for hubby and I.
Sauce: damn, I wish I’d put more on. It reminded me of a specialty sauce at a neighborhood pizza shop that lets you choose your sauce. It was simultaneously sweet, from the brown sugar, and spicy, from the rushed red pepper flakes. I do think the texture would be better with crushed tomatoes instead of stewed, but I was pleased with what we ended up with. And I had a ton leftover to stick in the freezer.
I’m thinking of making more dough and trying out a calzone or something with the leftover sauce and sausage.