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.
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.