Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Deep-Dish Sausage and Tomato Pizza

I’ve been trying to make the perfect pizza at home for a really long time. I know I’ll never make pizza the same as what you’d find in a pizza shop, and that’s fine, but I guess I just want to make the best at-home-pizza that I possibly can. It’s not an easy task when you don’t have a pizza stone. It’s easy to come up with delicious toppings, but when you can’t get that coveted crispy-yet-tender crust, well, it’s just not a perfect pizza.

I recently found a recipe from Sara Moulton that calls for making the pizza in a cast iron skillet, which is something I haven’t tried before. The recipe calls for cooking the dough in the bottom of the oven at a really high temperature, and I was optimistic about what this could do for my crust. Plus, the recipe reminds me of the sausage-and-tomato deep-dish pizza that I always get at Pizzeria Uno and that I absolutely love. I was really excited to try this.

I didn’t follow the recipe exactly though. I stuck to the concept, but I had my own sausage that I wanted to use. A while ago I made a batch of Cooking Light’s Atsa Spicy Pizza Sausage. It was really good, but it makes a ton, and I still had 2/3 of it left over in the freezer. So for my toppings I used this sausage and a can of Del Monte Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic & Oregano. For me, it has to be these tomatoes. I really like the flavor of them and, for reasons that I haven’t quite figured out, they’re the only tomatoes I’ve ever been able to get Adam to eat. These tomatoes, therefore, must have special powers, and I’m sticking with them. But use whatever you like.

The pizza came out really well. The dough came together easily and it baked up big and tender and crisp around the outer edges. I will warn, though, that you need to thoroughly drain off any extra liquid from the sausage and tomatoes, because not doing so could cause your crust to get a bit soggy on the bottom. Other than that, though, there’s nothing else you need to really watch out for with this recipe. Except for maybe eating the entire thing yourself.

Deep-Dish Sausage and Tomato Pizza
Adapted from Cheesy Deep-Dish Sausage and Tomato Pizza

1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast (about 2 1/2 teaspoons)
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for oiling bowl
1/3 recipe Atsa Spicy Pizza Sausage, recipe follows
1 (14 to 16-ounce) can diced tomatoes, well drained
1 cup grated whole milk mozzarella cheese (about 1/4 pound)
1 cup grated fontina cheese (about 1/4 pound)
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1/4 cup shredded fresh basil leaves, for garnish

In a large bowl, dissolve sugar in water. Sprinkle yeast over water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2 1/4 cups flour, cornmeal, salt, and 2 tablespoons oil and blend until mixture forms a dough. Knead dough on a floured surface, incorporating as much of remaining 1/4 cup flour as necessary to prevent dough from sticking, until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.

Put dough in a deep oiled bowl and turn to coat with oil. Let dough rise, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

While the dough is rising, prepare sausage (see recipe below). Stir in tomatoes and transfer mixture to a strainer over a bowl to drain and cool.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Punch down dough and knead 4 times. In an oiled 10 1/2-inch cast-iron skillet, press dough with oiled finger until it comes 2 inches up the side and is an even thickness on bottom. Let dough rise, covered loosely with plastic wrap, in a warm place for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle dough with half of mozzarella and fontina and top with sausage-tomato mixture and remaining cheeses. Sprinkle the top with the Parmesan and bake the pizza in the lower third of an electric oven or on floor of a gas oven for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees and bake 5-10 minutes more, or until crust is golden brown.

Top with fresh basil, if desired, and serve immediately.

Atsa Spicy Pizza Sausage

1 pound ground turkey
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, crushed

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Cook sausage in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain.

The sausage can be frozen for up to 3 months.


Peter M said...

Your 'Za looks fantastico....a large Coke would go real well with this.

noble pig said...

I gasped when I saw this. It's so, so lovely...you are so talented! I'm jealous!

Kevin said...

That deep dish pizza looks so good! I too have been trying to master the homemade pizza. I still have a bit of work to go. :)

Dustin said...

I have been wanting to attempt a home made pizza. I can't wait. Thank you for the recipe.

Psychgrad said...

I wish I could make a pizza like this. I think I have a new purpose in life.

Parker said...

My mouth is watering....that looks so amazing. Love the idea of cooking the crust in this manner. Great pics. Sausage also sounds great... will have to give that a try.

Grace said...

i adore my cast-iron skillet, but all i really use it for is pancakes! finally, another excuse to break it out, and a delicious, gorgeous excuse it is! :)

Cuisine Heart said...

This looks awesome. Now I am suddenly craving pizza and it's barely 9 am! I haven't yet ventured to make my own pizza dough, but it's encouraging to hear you can do make your own pizza sans pizza stone. And that sausage sounds delish.

Patsyk said...

My mouth is watering looking at your pizza! I love your toppings!

Deborah said...

You are killing me right now - I have totally been craving a good, meaty pizza. I'm gonna have to try this...

Katerina said...

This looks so good! We were just talking about making deep dish pizza because of that top chef episode, yum!

Bobby said...

Fantastic, this deep dish looks amazing.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

It looks delicious! I've made the Atsa Spicy Sausage before and it is really spicy. Good, but very spicy.

Chuck said...

This looks amazing! It's my favorite kind of pizza - deep dish, sausage and tomato!

Michael said...

That looks amazing.

Elle said...

I'm such a dork. I kept trying to figure out what Atsa meant. LOL, I get it now.

This pizza looks amazing! We always make thin crust, but I've been thinking about deep dish lately.

Vicarious Foodie said...

Thanks for your comments everyone!

Lynn reminds me of something I forgot to mention: The sausage *is* really spicy, as you might guess from the name. If you don't like that much heat, you can cut the pepper flakes in half.

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) said...

It is 5.28 in the morning and I am craving pizza. Hell, this looks uber-delicious!

Chas Grundy said...

Just tried the dough from this recipe. I was really excited to try it, hoping that the consistency would improve on my bread-like crust recipe.

The key differences for me (from my usual recipe) were the use of the cornmeal as well as the high temperature to start. This produced a very crispy crust that looked good.

The crust was a bit dense. This could have improved by letting the dough rise longer. I also like to throw some flavor into the dough, which I didn't do here and it ended up very bland. Some herbs or red pepper flakes would have been a good addition.

Overall, I think I'd use it again but without the high temperatures and with some added seasoning.

Lore said...

This sounds like a great recipe for a pizza dough and I'm sure the corn meal adds to the crunch. They look so good I could eat an entire pizza by myself. Bookmarked!

Melissa said...

My husband and I made this last week for our anniversary dinner and it was fantastic. He was in charge of the crust and I did everything else.

It took us a while from start to finish (about 3 hours) but it was SO worth it. Thank you for writing - you're now in my Google feed reader!

Vicarious Foodie said...

Melissa: For your anniversary dinner? Wow--what pressure! I'm so glad you were happy with it. You're right though--it does take a while. It's something I'll do only once in a while, and definitely on a weekend.

Joe said...

I'd concur with everyone else. This is a masterpiece.

One might even call it a master piece of pizza.

Vicarious Foodie said...

Thanks Joe!! I'm honored to have your approval.

Brentwood Kitchen Shopper said...

Wow...that looks delicious

Teresa said...

This looks amazing! Looks like we're gonna be having this for dinner tonight. I don't want to wait! Thanks for the recipe. The pictures are beautiful. :-)