Take that, Pizzeria Delfina! I am now free of my startling and instantaneous addiction to your too fine pizza of homemade fennel sausage, red peppers and onions.
How'd I do it, you say? Easy as pie, my friends. I whipped up a batch of pizza dough in the morning, then come dinnertime I threw my pizza stone in the oven, preheated it to 500, sauteed some spicy sausage with peppers, onions, garlic and fennel seed, and made me a damn good pizza!
Copycat Sausage Pizza
Yield: 2 pizzas
2 balls of pizza dough (buy some or make your own -- see below)
1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 lb. spicy Italian sausage, removed from casings and broken up into pieces
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 onion, cut into thin half moons
1 clove garlic, barely smashed with the side of a knife
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 cup basic marinara sauce
2 big balls fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly
1. Prepare pizza dough. While it is rising, stick your pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 500. Let it sit hot for at least an hour. (If you don't have a pizza stone, go get one. It not only helps crisp the crust, but it will also even out oven temperature which is nifty if, like me, you live in an old apartment with crappy appliances.)
2. When pizza dough is ready, heat olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add sausage and saute till cooked through. With a slotted spoon, remove sausage to a plate, then add red pepper, onion, garlic and fennel seed to the oil already in the pan. Saute till soft, about 5 minutes. Let cool, then remove garlic and mince.
3. Roll out each pizza dough on a separate cookie sheet topped with parchment paper (or on a wooden pizza paddle, if you have one -- but come on, who has one???). Make a little lip however you please (no advice here, folks, mine always look really pathetic) and spread 1/2 the marinara on each. Top with half the minced garlic, half the mozzarella, half the sausage, half the peppers and -- must I say it? -- half the onions.
4. Now for the tricky part. With a quick flick of the wrist, slide the pizza and parchment off the cookie sheet and onto the pizza stone. (Or if you're a scaredy cat, pick up opposite ends of the parchment paper and just place it directly on the stone. Whatever. No one's watching.) Bake 15-20 minutes, until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted and bubbling and yummy smells fill the kitchen. Remove by coaxing the pizza plus parchment paper back onto the cookie sheet, then let cool a minute or two before cutting. Eat one pizza while the other cooks. Make yummy noises and let your eyes roll back in your head.
Basic pizza dough (adapted from The New Basics Cookbook)
Yield: 2 12-inch pizza dough balls
1 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup semolina flour
2 - 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1. In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, semolina flour and 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Mix well. Add olive oil, salt and remaining flour. (Add the flour slowly -- I rarely use the full amount. You just need to get the dough to hold its shape.) Mix with your hands or a wooden spoon till the dough holds its shape.
2. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface till elastic, a few minutes. If it's too sticky, throw some more flour on it.
3. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let sit till it doubles in size, about an hour.
4. Put it back on a lightly floured surface, divide into two balls, cover and let sit 15 minutes.