Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sausage & Pepper Pizza

Recipe from Alice's Kitchen
Makes 2 large pizzas.

Our friends, Debbie and Bob, came over for a casual dinner last night. We were all in the mood for pizza. I saw pizza sausage in the local meat case and fresh mozzarella cheese in the cheese case at Lost River Market & Deli and bought them just in case of an emergency pizza craving. Bob and Debbie completed the party by bringing over some of the regional beers the store carries for us to try.


Whole Wheat Pizza Dough:
1 cup warm water (100-110ºF)
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 envelope dry yeast
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ teaspoons salt

Combine water and sugar in food processor. Sprinkle yeast over; let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add oil, then flour and salt. Process just until dough comes together. Knead on floured surface about 5 minutes. Add flour if needed. Lightly oil a large bowl. Add the dough; turn to coat with the oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then a towel. Let the dough rise in warm place until doubled, about an hour. Punch down dough. Knead in the bowl about 2 minutes. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll and stretch out dough (dough will be very elastic) on a floured surface to a 9” shape. (*Dough can be made ahead frozen. Just spray PAM inside a large Ziplock bag. Place the dough inside the bag and seal shut. Thaw in the refrigerator. It will rise in the fridge.) When in a pinch for time, you can use store-bought refrigerated pizza dough.

Note: In summer, I make pizza on the grill (I'll be sure to put that recipe on the blog as the weather gets warmer.) During the winter months, I use a pizza stone in the oven. A pizza stone wicks moisture from the dough so that it turns out crispy. It works the same way with bread. Preheat the oven with the pizza stone inside. (If you don't have a pizza stone, just use a cookie sheet.) I sprinkle cornmeal on a wooden paddle and place the rolled out dough on it. Put on your favorite toppings. While the oven door is open, place the paddle close to the stone and using a jerking motion, slide the pizza right on to the stone. The cornmeal should help the pizza slide on to the stone.

Toppings:
Brush a little extra virgin olive oil onto the dough. Spoon a bit of pizza sauce (I used only 1/2 can Muir Glen Organic Pizza Sauce for two pizzas.) on to the dough and spread it thinly out with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Distribute cooked pizza sausage* over the pizza. Sprinkle the pizza with thinly sliced onions, red bell peppers and mushrooms. Top with thin slices, small cubes or shredded fresh mozzarella cheese.

Baking Directions:
Preheat the oven (and pizza stone, if using) to 450 F degrees. Bake pizza for approximately 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is browned and crisp.

*The day before the pizza party, I used an electric skillet set at 300 degrees to brown the sausage. There were several large sausage links in casings in the package. The casings can be left on or can be removed. I sliced the links lenghwise and then cut them up into small 1 inch pieces. I browned them and drained them on paper towels. I froze some for another time and put the rest in the fridge until our guests arrived. I also made the dough the day before and cut up the cheese and veggies in advance as well.

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