For everyone in the United States – happy Thanksgiving! And you may be expecting a post extolling the culinary gems that make up a traditional holiday. But since I’m guessing you’re bombarded with such imagery and smells – I decided to share something that you may want to try AFTER the holiday.
And if you’re reading this from outside the US – you probably wouldn’t be that excited about a blog about Thanksgiving anyway! So – here goes…pizza at home!
I think the most fun thing about making pizza at home is you only have your own imagination to limit you in terms what you can put on top! There’s nothing real tricky about pizza – especially when you buy already made dough from the grocery store…which is what I do every time.
You can find dough either in the dairy or freezer case – and you can even find a few different varieties depending on your local store: whole wheat, basil, garlic – or just plain white.
Having a pizza stone is very useful. You can achieve a crispy, yet tender crust by using one. These range in price from about $20 up to $50 – but, if you treat them lovingly, they’ll last you a long time.
1 pre-made pizza dough – found in dairy or freezer case
Preheat oven to 500°F. A hot oven is essential here! Once pre-heated, put your stone in the oven to heat up.
Flour your board or counter space and roll out your dough with your hands or a rolling pin – to an even thickness, no larger in diameter than your stone. Dough can be stubborn…if it keeps stretching back on you, give it a rest and return to it. Eventually you’ll be able to achieve the desire shape and thickness.
After about 5-10 minutes in the oven, carefully remove the stone and lightly dust with corn meal (white or yellow – doesn’t matter). This will help to crust up the bottom. Place your dough on the stone – covering completely. Next you want to dock your dough by pricking it all over with a fork. You’re going to pop the dough (by itself) in the hot oven to partially cook it. By pricking it (or docking it) you’ll ensure the dough stays flat on the stone and won’t puff up too much. Heat in the oven for about 5 minutes. Allow your nose to tell you if it’s close – if you can smell it – check it! Don’t let it burn.
Topping: 2 tbs all-purpose flour
2 tbs butter
1 cup milk
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 pound loose hot (or sweet if you’d prefer) Italian sausage
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ red or white onion, sliced thinly into half-moons
1 green pepper – cut into matchsticks
4 ounces grated Monterey Jack cheese
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
To make a white sauce (béchamel) – add butter and flour to a small sauce pan over medium heat. When combined, slowly add milk and stir constantly. Using a microplane, grate some fresh nutmeg. Turn heat to low and keep stirring. Sauce should thicken in about 3-4 minutes and will coat the back of a spoon when done.
In another sauté pan, heat the sausage with red wine vinegar. Cook until no longer pink. Add onions and peppers and cook until vegetables are softened. Now you’re ready to assemble the pizza.
Remove the dough from the oven and keep it on the stone. Carefully spread the béchamel sauce to cover dough. Next add the sausage, peppers and onions evenly across. Finally, sprinkle the cheese on top and sprinkle with red pepper flakes (or omit if you don’t like it spicy).
Place the stone back in the oven and bake for 10 minutes – but peek after 7 minutes or so. Be sure it’s not burning. After 10 minutes, cheese should be melted and bubbly and look spectacular!
Slide the pizza onto a cutting board and let it rest for 5 minutes (it’s too molten to eat right away). If you’ve got a pizza cutter, slice into 8 slices. Of course, a sharp knife will also do.
A great day for me is preparing great meals for friends and family. I enjoy experimenting with new ingredients and also updating classics that I've enjoyed for years. I love to travel and try lots of new cuisines - and wouldn't be anything without the love of my family!