A zen koan: Everybody knows pizza, but does anyone truly know pizza? We take pizza far more seriously than most would consider healthy. Despite our obsession with this circular delight, we kept this recipe is pretty straightforward. Follow these steps to make a classic sausage, pepper, mushroom & onion pizza. We added a few pizza snob notes we feel should be considered, but for the most part this recipe is versatile. Feel free to get creative and add whatever toppings more or less that you like. In the end if you are happy with it, that is what matters. Now go forth, be one with the dough, find your pizza zen.
1lb loose Italian sausage (you can use any meat you like, or no meat at all!)
1 pizza dough room temp
1 cup of whole peeled tomatoes
1 ball of fresh mozzarella cheese
1 onion thinly sliced
1 bell pepper thinly sliced
1 pack of white mushrooms thinly sliced
Drizzle of olive oil
Pinch of salt
Chili flakes for heat are optional
Step 1. The night before remove your dough from the freezer and defrost in the refrigerator. The next day when the dough is fully defrosted and you are about 2 hours from making the pizza, remove the dough from both the bag and the refrigerator. Place on a plate or in a bowl and let the dough proof a bit. Letting it sit at room temperature will allow it to become more easily workable and let the yeast wake back up, which equals flavor.
Step 2. About 30 minutes prior to cooking your pizza do the following: Preheat your oven to 500-550 degrees (assuming you feel comfortable heating your oven to this temp). If you have a pizza stone, put it in your oven before preheating. If you do not, you can use a regular baking stray, but do not put that in the oven yet. The trick to good homemade pizza is a very hot oven. You want the pizza to crisp quickly and not bake slowly. Most commercial pizza ovens are 800-1500 degrees.
Step 3. Prep your sausage and veggies. We suggest cooking your toppings slightly before placing on the pizza. In one pan break apart your sausage and lightly sauté until it is no longer pink but not overcooked. In a separate pan with a touch of olive oil, add your thinly sliced peppers and cook for 3 minutes, next add your onions and mushrooms and cook 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Note: If you have picky topping members of your family, you do not have to do these all the veggies in the same pan so you can add them as you would like later.
Step 4. Prep your tomato sauce. Empty you can of whole peeled tomatoes into a bowl. With your fingers, crush the tomatoes into small chunks (or large if you like it more rustic). That’s it. No salt, no pepper, no sugar, no garlic, no oregano, nothing. The trick to good pizza sauce (in our humble opinion) is the freshness of pure tomatoes. People often think you need to add lots of seasoning to a pizza sauce, but this is not true. If you insist on adding these things, you can, but if you can find the courage to keep it simple, you will be rewarded.
Step 5. Prep the dough. There are many ways to stretch and flatten your dough. You can get as fancy as you would like with it. Pat it, toss it, whatever floats your boat. If you just want to get the dough flat quickly, a rolling pin works. In the end what you want is something that resembles a circle that is as thin as possible (less than 1/8 of an inch). If you are going to be forming your pizza on a surface then sliding it onto a pizza stone (ideally using a pizza peel) make sure the surface has some flour on it so it does not stick. If you are putting your pizza on a metal pan and placing in the oven, you can form it on the pan itself.
Step 6. Add your toppings. Before you start this make sure everything is nearby as you need to work fast, especially if you are going to be sliding your dough off your work surface and onto a hot stone. This entire process from the moment the sauce hits your dough to the moment it slides in the over should take less than a minute or the sauce will make the dough soggy.
Add toppings in this order:
1. Add your sauce - Ideally take one ladle full of your sauce at the center of the dough. Then with the bottom of the ladle in a spiral motion smear the sauce until it’s worked all the way to the edge. It’s a misconception that you need lots of sauce. You don’t want an inch thick layer all over your dough. Just a nice coating. Less is more on the road to pizza enlightenment.
2. Add your toppings - Sausage, peppers, onions, mushrooms. Then top with large chunks of your fresh mozzarella.
3. Sprinkle the entire pizza with a good sized pinch of salt.
4. Slide into the oven carefully.
5. Cook for 5-10 minutes depending on how hot you made your oven. Dough should be lightly golden if you lift it and look at the bottom.
Step 7. Remove the pizza and serve. You want to let your pizza sit for a minute before cutting. Then slice it up and enjoy!