Richard and I eat pizza about twice a month. He doesn’t care what’s on top, as long as there’s meat. I LOVE Italian sausage, so that’s the meat default in our house. Very, very rarely do we order pizza out. I think it’s much more economical to construct our own, and then I can add as little or as much as I want. I understand restaurant pizza is convenient. We’re just always disappointed in the way it tastes.
Our Costco in Billings will sometimes sells ground pork in bulk quantities – well, what doesn’t Costco sell in bulk quantities? I remember this was a highly coveted item. One butcher told me that the Asian restaurants in town buy most all of it whenever their ground pork is available. So, I’m on the lookout during my shopping trips.
The long and short of it is that I found two great recipes for Italian sausage and country breakfast sausage seasoning. Happily, there was a lovely package of ground pork available, and I turned it into bulk sausage. It’s an easy process, and much more economical than buying sausage at the grocery. And, it is less fatty. My package said the meat/fat percentage was 80/20. As I browned it, very little fat was rendered, making it an even better buy. And FRAGRANT??? Oh my goodness – just the perfect blend. You can find the recipe from The Feisty Fairy at Tasty Kitchen here.
Enough babble. Let’s get started.
I love making my own pizza dough. While there are quicker methods, I use the dough recipe from Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen. It’s light and crispy, and leftovers heat up beautifully in a skillet. Me, however, I’m a cold pizza fan. Here’s the link to the recipe.
Once the dough is nicely risen, punch it down, and roll it into a little ball. The secret to crispy crust is to use lard to grease the pan. Only a couple of tablespoons – it’s not gonna kill ya – it’s pizza – the cheese will probably kill ya!
Slather the lard evenly across the surface of a half-sheet pan. Don’t wipe off your hands. Grab the dough, and stretch it evenly into the pan – make sure the edges and the corners have a little extra dough. Take a fork, and dock the dough – that’s what all those little holes are across the surface. In a 475°F oven, pre-bake the crust for 5 minutes. Remove the pan, and begin to assemble the ingredients.
I also like to whip up my own pizza sauce. To compliment the yummy Italian sausage, I mixed one 8-ounce can of tomato sauce with 2 Tablespoons of pesto.
Mix up the pesto/tomato sauce. Spread it across the top of the pre-baked crust, and sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese. Use as much or as little as you want – grate your own or use pre-grated cheese. At this point, I like to sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper – again, that’s up to you.
I like to lightly brown my veggies, or you could grill them. I think it improves the flavor. Here we go with onions, red bell peppers, and mushrooms. Oh, and while you’re at it, be sure to brown your sausage until it is no longer pink. Another trick I’ve been known to do is to saute some minced garlic with the mushrooms – make sure the garlic doesn’t burn.
One by one, begin to layer the sausage and vegetables. Top everything with a layer of provolone cheese. Pop it into a 475°F oven for 12 minutes or so.
Remove and top with shredded mozzarella. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes or so, until the cheesy top is nice and bubbly and the crust is browned.
Sprinkle with more grated Parmesan cheese or red pepper chili flakes. Nice cold glass of beer or a nice red. Very awesome!