Today I took a 30-minute meal and turned it into a 2-hour meal. Sounds crazy, but I had good reason. Rachael’s Mega Meatball Pizza calls for already-made pizza dough. You can buy it, she says, or get it from your favorite pizza shop. Has anyone ever actually walked into a pizza shop and asked for some dough? Did they give it to you? I just don’t see it happening at the pizzeria across the street from me. As for store-bought dough, well, that’s just not an option. My store only carries refrigerated dough, not frozen, and you know what I’m talking about here—the stuff in a can that tastes like a poorly adapted biscuit. The last time I struggled with that stuff, cursing as it tore during my futile attempts to shape it into some semblance of a pizza, I swore I’d never use it again. And I haven’t.
So to make Rachael’s pizza, I made my own dough. I wanted something that would be no hassle whatsoever, and so I looked for one I could make in my bread machine. I used this one from recipezaar.com, and it worked really well. I flavored mine with (dried) rosemary, just like in Rachael’s recipe, and I got a perfect dough ball.
Because the toppings are a bit heavy in this recipe, I thought it would work well as a deep-dish pizza. I decided my 9x13-inch baking dish was my best bet for this, but I wasn’t sure how it would affect baking. I wanted to bake the crust a bit before adding the toppings, just to keep it from getting soggy, but I was afraid the center of the crust would puff up on me. I mentally scanned my pantry, thinking I could hold it down with some dried beans, the way you would a pie crust, but I knew I didn’t have any beans. Finally, I decided to just try it and see what happened. I greased my pan and then sprinkled it with cornmeal—the latter helped “grab” the dough as I tried to spread it into the corners of the pan. After working at it a while, I got the dough up the sides of the pan about half-way, then stuck it in a 375-degree oven for 11 minutes. Meanwhile, I made the filling for the pizza. I followed Rachael’s recipe exactly except I used 1 pound of ground beef and 1/2 pound of ground pork (instead of 1 1/2 pounds sirloin). This just felt more “meatball-like” to me.
After 11 minutes, I took the crust out of the oven. It puffed up even more that I had feared it would. I wish I’d taken a picture just so you could see how big it was, but at the time I was sure it was a disaster, and I’m not one to document my disasters. I added this to my ever-growing list of next-time-I’ll-know-better moments, and went ahead and piled the filling and cheese into the center. I put it back in the oven.
Eleven minutes later, it was done. I was terrified to cut into it. I pictured a chunk of bread with some meat sitting on top. But, bravely, I picked up my knife and forged ahead. I was completely surprised to see that the center had sunk back down during the second baking, and I ended up with a respectable deep-dish pizza, after all. A tasty one, too. The crust did taste more like bread than crust usually does, but that’s actually how this recipe is supposed to turn out. Rachael says she likes her pizza crusts to taste like focaccia, and this one definitely does.
This is very filling, and between two of us here, both with large appetites, we were only able to finish half the pizza. So feed a group or prepare for leftovers. Pair it with a coffee (or chocolate) float, and you’ve got a 2-hour 30-minute meal. Enjoy!