Italian Sausage and Peppers…Pizza

28 Sep

Couldn’t just leave well enough alone, could I?  Nope.  I haven’t had sausage and peppers since I was a wee lass living with my parents, and I never realized just how much I missed it.  So, whilst browsing the meat section at the grocery store, I saw some lovely hot Italian sausages on sale: two packages for $7!  Let’s see, how do I rationalized buying this much sausage…I’ll freeze half, and I will try my very best not to won’t eat it all in one sitting.  And right when I got home, I diligently put one package in the freezer and the other in the fridge, just waiting to be made into this:Ohhh yeah, I’ll bet you can feel your arteries (not to mention your thighs) getting all huffy already.  Five sausages, two peppers, and two little onions makes a surprisingly large amount of food.  Okay, maybe not that surprising.  Anywho, this is one of those things I don’t like to use a recipe for, like most of my cooking (and now and then my baking).  Following is my “guide” to making sausage and peppers.

Italian Sausage and Peppers

Source: My Imagination/Memory/Know-how

Ingredients:

  • 5 hot Italian sausages
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1-2 onions, coarsely chopped
  • Oil as needed
  • Garlic, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, etc. to suit your tastes

Directions:

In a large (and I do mean large…mine was precariously under-sized) saute/frying pan, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add sausages and cook, turning frequently to brown all sides, about 10 minutes.  Add onions and cook another 2 minutes, then add peppers and seasonings.  Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking until the sausages are cooked through and the vegetables are soft.  At this point I carefully removed and sliced each sausage, but you could serve them whole or cut in half on a roll or bun (like my mama used to do!).

That wasn’t so hard!  I froze about a third of this and ate another third for dinner and the next day’s lunch.  Yum.  I still had some leftovers, and few things make me as happy as turning leftovers into something pretty dang awesome.  Immediately I thought pizza.  This is yet another non-recipe recipe, so experiment and adapt it to your tastes!

Italian Sausage and Peppers Pizza 

Source: Yours truly, except for the Pizza Dough, which is from Brown Eyed Baker

Ingredients:

  • Italian sausage and peppers (above, or your favorite recipe)
  • Pizza dough (recipe follows, or your fave)
  • Olive oil for brushing
  • Pizza sauce (I used my trusty homemade marinara)
  • Cheese (I used mozzarella and Parmesan)
  • Any other toppings you’d like (mushrooms for me)

Preheat oven to 500.  Shape prepared dough into a 1/2 inch thick round and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or use a pizza stone if you’re feeling fancy…and have one).  Brush with olive oil, then top with pizza sauce, cheeses, and Italian sausage and peppers, along with any other toppings of your choice.  Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until top is lightly browned and bubbly.  Let cool a few minutes before cutting and serving.

Pizza Dough

Source: Brown Eyed Baker via Baking Illustrated, pages153-155

Makes enough for 3 medium pizzas

We find the food processor is the best tool for making pizza dough. However, only a food processor with a capacity of at least 11 cups can handle this much dough. You can also knead this dough by hand or in a standing mixer (see the variations that follow). Unbleached all-purpose flour can be used in a pinch, but the resulting crust will be less crisp. If you want to make pizza dough in the morning and let it rise on the counter all day, decrease the yeast to 1/2 teaspoon and let the covered dough rise at cool room temperature (about 68 degrees) until doubled in size, about 8 hours. You can prolong the rising time even further by refrigerating the covered dough for up to 16 hours and then letting it rise on the counter until doubled in size, which will take 6 to 8 hours.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
  • 1 envelope (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups (22 ounces) bread flour, plus more for dusting work surface and hands
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Olive oil or nonstick cooking spray for oiling the bowl

1. Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add the room-temperature water and oil and stir to combine.

2. Process the flour and salt in a large food processor, pulsing to combine. Continue pulsing while pouring the liquid ingredients (holding back a few tablespoons) through the feed tube. If the dough does not readily form into a ball, add the remaining liquid and continue to pulse until a ball forms. Process until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 30 seconds longer.

3. The dough will be a bit tacky, so use a rubber spatula to turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead by hand for a few strokes to form a smooth, round ball. Put the dough into a deep oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.

Pizza Dough Kneaded by Hand
Follow the recipe for Pizza Dough through step 1. Omit step 2 and instead combine the salt and half the flour in a deep bowl. Add the liquid ingredients and use a wooden spoon to combine. Add the remaining flour, stirring until a cohesive mass forms. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic 7 to 8 minutes, using as little dusting flour as possible while kneading. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and proceed with the recipe.

Pizza Dough Kneaded in a Standing Mixer
Follow the recipe for Pizza Dough through step 1. Omit step 2 and instead place the flour and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle. Briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms. Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and proceed with the recipe.

Butter Queen’s Notes:

  • I halved the pizza dough recipe because I only wanted one pizza.
  • This dough recipe is awesome…it does a great job explaining all the different ways you can go about making it.
  • I also used half whole wheat/half all-purpose flour in my dough, which seemed to make it a bit dense.  It was still good, but next time I’ll stick with the recipe.
  • Always, ALWAYS eat pizza with a sauce medley, and make sure at least one of those sauces is some type of ranch.  I chose light ranch (hey, I was having a chunky monkey sort of day when I bought that) and chili paste.  Then they kind of got all mixed together and delicious.  Ahhh, pizza perfection.  I only wish I’d had some ranch from this place.

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