Photo Credit: elena rosemond-hoerr
Depending on the season, Dan and I have people over for dinner anywhere from once a month to a couple times a month. Sometimes I'll go all out and braise short ribs or make fried chicken, but one of my favorite fall backs is pizza.
Pizza is cheap, easy, and seems like it takes a lot more effort than it actually does, a dinner host's magic bullet, if you will. Pizza dough itself is one of those things that seems, to the untrained eye, like a lot of trouble. In fact, its one of the easiest doughs to make, easier even than baking a cake. A little yeast, some bread flour, a lot of resting and voila! And the taste, the taste is worlds better than a premade pizza crust that you'd buy at the grocery store. It's not only cheaper, it's impressive. Even my Sicilian grandmother has given me the nod of approval over this crust.
Making your own pizza sauce is just as easy, if not easier. I saute together canned whole peeled tomatoes, some onion, spices, and then puree it all into a delicious sauce. One of my favorite party pizzas is sausage pizza as it's always a big hit with the men in my family. When I'm making sausage pizza I cook the sausage first, then stir in the pureed tomato mixture so that the drippings from the sausage can infuse the whole sauce with vibrant flavor.
Whether you're putting a pizza together for just you or you're throwing a party, it's a small amount of prep work and big returns. It's perfect to eat in front of a movie, or you can make a lot of dough and have a pizza-making party. You can make dough ahead and freeze it, make it the morning of or as late as an hour before you want to cook it. I love that about this recipe because everything is make ahead. It's the perfect throw-together meal that tastes incredible and has you looking like a rockstar.
1 tbsp dry active yeast
2 ½ cups bread flour
1 ½ tbsp olive oil
¾ cup warm water
½ tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 16oz can whole peeled tomatoes
½ white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 tsp dried basil*
1 tsp dried oregano*
1 tsp dried rosemary*
Salt & pepper
2 pork italian sausages
½ tbsp olive oil
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 tbsp olive oil
*feel free to substitute 1 tbsp fresh herbs
Whisk together olive oil, yeast, salt, basil, and water. Whisk until fully incorporated, at least 2 minutes. Add half of the flour and stir with a wooden spoon. Add remaining flour and knead for ten minutes, until the dough feels like a stress ball.
Coat a glass bowl with olive oil. Place the dough ball in the bowl, turn once, and cover with a damp towel. Let rise for at least an hour. Punch down and let rise another 15 minutes. Now it's ready to bake.
Begin by removing the casing from your sausage. To do this, use a paring knife to break the skin, and simply peel the casing off. Cook the sausage and set aside, reserving the drippings in the pan. Add olive oil and heat. Add garlic, onion, and tomatoes (just tomatoes, not the liquid in the can). Cook 5 minutes, or until tender.
Transfer skillet ingredients (not sausage) into a food processor and blend until smooth. Return to the skillet and combine with sausage. Cook 2 more minutes and remove from heat.
When you're ready to cook the pizza, roll out the dough and preheat your oven to 500. Spread sauce evenly over the dough. Top with cheese, and bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown.
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