Friday, January 23, 2009

Sausage and Wild Mushroom Pizza

I know that I have expressed my absolute adoration for sausage before. But I hope you'll forgive me, because this true and abiding love has provided us with so many delicious and memorable meals. And the weather outside is so very cold and dreary, that I thought it might be nice to heat up our taste buds with a spicy Italian sausage, wild mushroom and red onion pizza for dinner.

I found the recipe on the Bon Appetite website. I've made so many different kinds of pizzas lately, that I needed a bit of inspiration. The recipe calls for pressing finely grated cheese, along with fresh rosemary and red pepper flakes, right into the dough for extra flavor. The cheese is called Piave, and it is a slightly sweet, aged hard cow's milk cheese, much like a young Parmesan. If you are lucky enough to have a place in town where you can find specialty cheeses try this delicious one, but if you do not, regular Parmesan would be a fine substitute. Topped with browned sausage, sauteed mushrooms and caramelized onions, the end result is earthy and spicy, hearty and satisfying; a flavor-rich meal to enjoy with a glass of red wine by the fire.

Sausage and Wild Mushroom Pizza
adapted from Bon Appetite

1 recipe pizza dough
2 links spicy Italian sausage (I prefer turkey)
7 oz. wild mushrooms, scrubbed and thickly sliced
1 yellow onion, sliced into quarter inch thick rings
2 T olive oil
1/3 C grated Piave cheese (or Parmesan)
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 t chopped fresh rosemary
3/4 C mozzarella cheese
2 T chopped parsley (optional)

Preheat oven to 500 degrees with a pizza stone on the lowest rack. Prepare dough according to directions (or buy pizza dough from the store...Trader Joe's makes an excellent one). Let dough rest for at least 20 minutes at room temperature. Flatten into a disk with your hand, then sprinkle on Piave cheese, red pepper flakes and 1/2 t chopped fresh rosemary. Roll out into about a 10 inch circle. Cover with a clean dish cloth and let rest while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Meanwhile, remove sausage from casing and brown in a heavy skillet over moderately high heat, breaking up with a spatula into large chunks. Remove from skillet and set aside. Reduce heat to medium low. In remaining rendered fat (or if there is none add a splash of olive oil), saute onions for about 15-20 minutes, until soft and quite caramelized. Remove to bowl and set aside. In remaining fat (or you might need to add another splash of olive oil) saute mushrooms with a pinch of salt until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan.

Place pizza dough on a well floured pizza peel (from which you can slide it into the oven), parchment paper, or a floured pizza pan or baking sheet. Layer with 3/4 C shredded mozzarella cheese, onions, sausage, and mushrooms. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 t chopped rosemary. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crust is as crisp as you like (I like it really crisp). Sprinkle with chopped parsley, slice into wedges and serve.

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