I absolutely love pizza. It is one of my very favorite foods. If I had to pick one food I could live off of for the rest of my life and not gain weight, it would probably be pizza. Pizza is so versatile. The selection and combination of toppings are endless.
To kick off our Valentine’s weekend this past February, I decided to try making a homemade pizza for Jeff. I’ve “made” pizza before, but always with store-bought crust. I wanted this one to be a bit more special, so I made my own crust.
For instruction, I turned to one of my favorite go-to chefs, Emeril Lagasse. I took his Chicago-Style Pan Pizza with Sausage, Mushrooms, Herbs and Tomatoes and turned it into a thin crust that I baked on a pizza stone. I just prefer thin crusts.
This actually makes enough dough for 2 pizzas and more toppings than can go on a single thin crust pizza. So I froze the second ball of dough in saran wrap, and we reheated the the leftover toppings for sandwiches a couple days later.
The big lesson I learned that night? Read all the instructions thoroughly ahead of time. I hadn’t realized how much time the dough needs to rise, so we ended up eating after 10 p.m. that evening. But, the pizza turned out delicious and totally worth the wait!
- All-purpose flour, for dusting
- 1 recipe Pizza Dough, recipe follows
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound hot or sweet Italian sausage, crumbled
- ½ pound button mushrooms, quartered
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 1 tablespoon thinly sliced garlic
- 1½ cups, peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ pound mozzarella, grated
- Parmesan and Romano
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
- Pinch of sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1-1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for coating bowl
- 2½ to 3 cups all-purpose flour plus more, if necessary
- Cornmeal, as necessary for dusting pizza peel
- In a large bowl combine yeast with water and sugar and stir well to combine. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the salt, olive oil, and half of the flour and mix well to thoroughly combine. Add all remaining flour except ½ cup and mix well with your hands, working to incorporate the flour little by little. The dough should be slightly sticky to the touch. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead dough for at least 5 and up to 7 minutes, adding enough additional flour, as necessary, to form a smooth and elastic dough that is not sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled 2 or 3 quart bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, usually at least 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees F and if you have one, place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven.
- Divide dough into 2 portions for 2 (12 to 14-inch) pizzas) and form into balls. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 15 minutes, then transfer to a lightly floured surface, shape as desired and roll out to a ⅛-inch thickness.
- Remove the pre-heated pizza stone from the oven.
- Adjust the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Transfer dough to the pizza stone (sprinkle with cornmeal to help facilite moving dough) and top with topping.
- Set a 12-inch saute pan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the sausage and cook until lightly caramelized, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and onions and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and tomatoes to the pan and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat, add the basil and oregano, and allow to cool before using.
- Sprinkle the sausage mixture over the dough on the stone and then add the salt and crushed red pepper. Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and then top with the mozzarella and a sprinkling of Parmesan and/or Romano.
- Transfer the pizza to the oven and bake until the dough has risen, the cheese has melted, and the surface of the pizza and dough are a golden brown, about 18 minutes. Remove from the oven, cut into wedges, and serve hot.