Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sausage and Broccoli Pizza

I was born and raised on Long Island, New York. As such, I am a certified pizza snob. I believe New York Pizza is the best pizza, and there is very little you can do to change my mind.

It's really hard being a New York pizza snob in Boston, but that is the predicament I find myself in. Because I also am madly in LOVE with pizza, I decided that it would be a fun activity to make a yummy pizza at home.

Because I would trust Super Chef Bobby Flay with my life, I decided that his pizza dough recipe would be the perfect place to start. I even made the dough the night before and allowed it to come to room temperature just before cooking. It's really fool proof. A stand mixer is very useful to have, but if you don't have this or time to make your own dough, a store-bought dough would work just fine!

The joy of homemade pizza is the fact that you can let your imagination run wild. There is no pizza shop owner telling you what pizza options you have. Instead, the options are limitless! If you want a bacon, bleu cheese, french fry pizza -- by God, you make that pizza.

For my first homemade pizza, I thought I would keep it simple and go with what I like. I am a huge fan of browned sweet Italian sausage, and broccoli is almost always my vegetable of choice. And so this simple but comforting Sausage and Broccoli Pizza was born.

I doctored up a store-bought pizza sauce using a bunch of herbs, lemon juice, a touch of sugar and garlic. I wilted in some spinach for added nutritional goodness.

Now, if you're going to be making a pizza at home and take nothing else away from this post -- heed this tip: do NOT buy pre-shredded mozzarella cheese. If you buy a ball of fresh whole milk mozzarella and shred it yourself, you will find that it melts much more beautifully than the processed stuff and bubbles and browns in a mouthwatering way.

My crust turned out to be a little big. It's ok, that's my favorite part

Also important is your equipment...a pizza stone is preferable, but I was able to find a $3 pizza pan (3 DOLLARS!!) at Marshalls. It's extremely helpful for crisping the crust and forming your dough into a nice circle. If all else fails, you can also follow the steps below using a large cast iron skillet!

The following recipe includes the pizza dough recipe and a separate recipe for the toppings. Note that the dough recipe yields 2 13-inch pizzas, so check back soon for another great pizza recipe I served this past weekend that is so outrageous it has to be good! PIZZA! PIZZA!

Here's what you need for Sausage and Broccoli Pizza:

For the crust (adapted Bobby Flay Recipe)
3 1/2 to 4 cups all purpose flour plus more for kneading
1 teaspoon sugar
1 envelope instant dry yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups warm water (must be WARM, not hot or cold, to avoid deactivating the yeast)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil

For the toppings
1 can pizza sauce
splash of water to clean out the can
1 tablespoon each dried oregano and dried basil
1 teaspoon sugar
juice of 1 lemon
about 1 cup packed baby spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
3 links sweet italian sausage, removed from casing
1 cup frozen broccoli, chopped fine
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup (or more..hee hee) freshly grated whole milk mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil

Here's what you do:

For the crust
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine 3 1/2 cups of flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Turn mixer on low and gradually stream in the water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Increase speed slightly and knead until the dough begins to form a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. If it is extremely sticky, add more flour about a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency.

Lightly flour a clean work surface and turn the dough out onto the countertop. Knead lightly and form into a smooth ball. Use the remaing olive oil to grease a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in a warm area and allow to rise about 1 hour until doubled in size.

Once the dough has doubled, again lightly flour a clean work surface and separate the dough into 2 equal pieces. Knead each piece gently into a smooth ball. Cover with a clean kitchen towel for ten minutes. If not using immediately, wrap the balls tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Allow to come to room temperature before cooking.

While preparing the toppings, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the pizza pan in the oven to preheat as well.

For the toppings
In a small saucepan, combine the pizza sauce, water, herbs, sugar, and lemon juice over medium heat. Stir to combine. Bring to a slight boil then reduce the heat to low. Add the spinach and cook until completely wilted; season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

In a skillet, heat a bit of oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and brown for about 2 minutes. Begin breaking apart the sausage and crumble into small pieces. Cook, stirring occassionally until browned on all sides. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

In the same pan, melt the butter and saute the broccoli until warmed. Season with salt and pepper.

To build the pizza
Remove pizza pan from oven and carefully press pizza dough onto the pan working out from the center. Make it as thick or thin as you like.

Use a soup ladle to spoon about a cup of the sauce into the center of the crust. Use the back of the spoon to swirl it around to coat almost all of the pizza, leaving about an inch for the crust. Top the sauce with broccoli then add the mozzarella cheese, being sure to evenly coat the entire pizza. Finally, place the sausage pieces on top. Drizzle the top with the remaining olive oil, being sure to get a bit on the crust as well. Bake at 350 for about 15 to 20 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is gold brown. Allow to cool slightly before cutting and serving.

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