Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Thin Crust Caramelized Onion, Sausage, and Spinach Pizza

The photography department here at Macy Bakes has been on an extended vacation, but they're back with (mediocre) pictures of (awesome!) pizza.  They kind of forgot to take a picture of the masterpiece before it was mostly-devoured, but here's a little slice (groan) of what was going on in the kitchen:

Please excuse the terrible cell phone picture. 
Last night I revisited the awesome thin crust pizza dough that I posted about in January, with real toppings that were only partially pilfered from the dining hall!  I wanted to make pizza, but didn't want to shop, so I poked around my pantry and freezer and came up with Caramelized Onion, Spicy Sausage, and Spinach Pizza with Pecorino-Romano and Mozzarella.  

In typical me fashion, my "cleaning out the fridge" approach was probably better than anything I could have planned (see: Quiche and Calzones).  What I had on hand: lots of onions, baby spinach, Pecorino-Romano cheese, shredded mozzarella, frozen Spicy Jalapeno chicken sausage.  I thinly sliced and caramelized the onions, deglazing the pan with sweet vermouth at the end. (I'm not sure if I'd read about that somewhere, or just thought of it because my roommate and I were talking about sweet vermouth earlier in the afternoon--anyway, very dark and very sweet, tasty onions.)  I thawed and diced two sausages, and grated the Pecorino-Romano on the large holes of a box grater.  The baby spinach was left as-is.  I halved the pizza dough recipe because I only needed one pizza (modified recipe below).  9 minutes in a screaming hot (550˚F) oven, and I was in pizza heaven.  Underneath the bubbly cheese the soft, sweet onions were a perfect foil to the sausage (which was quite spicy!).  The oven's heat crisped the exposed spinach, adding good texture.  The combination of mild, melty mozzarella and dry, salty Pecorino-Romano covered the pizza with a flavorful and delightfully gooey cheese layer.  Although this pizza was the happy result of random items I had on hand, it's absolutely worth seeking out the ingredients again!

Caramelized Onion, Spicy Sausage, and Spinach Pizza
Makes 1 pizza, approximately 12 x 17 inches.  Serves 2 to 3 hungry people, with a side salad 

Pizza Dough (for 1 sheet pan-sized pan)

* 1 ¾ cups (210 grams) All-Purpose flour, plus a bit more for kneading

* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* ½ teaspoon instant yeast

* A pinch of sugar 
5/8 cups (5 ounces) warm water (110°F)
* 1 teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
* Cornmeal, for sprinkling


* About 4 medium onions, halved and then thinly and evenly sliced (You'll have about 5 cups of sliced onions)
* 3 Tablespoons olive oil
* Kosher salt
* ⅓ cup Sweet Vermouth (optional)
* 2 sausages, diced into -inch pieces (I like pre-cooked chicken sausage, such as Trader Joe's brand Spicy Jalapeno Sausage, but feel free to use any brand or flavor that you like)
* 1 ½ - 2 cups grated cheese.  I used about half Pecorino-Romano (because I had some) and half mozzarella, but you can use all mozzarella or a combination of your choosing
* 1 (packed) cup baby spinach leaves

1. Caramelize Onions: In a fairly wide (10-12 inch) heavy bottomed pan over medium low heat, add the olive oil, and then the onions.  Cook, stirring every few minutes initially, and every 7 minutes or so, once the onions are soft.  Continue cooking until the onions are a deep brown color.  You are caramelizing the onions, not browning them. They will first become translucent, then light yellow, and with patience, a deep caramel brown, over low, slow heat.  This can take up to 2 hours.  I often see recipes that say "caramelize onions, 20 minutes," or some such thing.  Impossible.  When they've become dark and sweet, deglaze the pan with the sweet vermouth, if you have any (if not, use water), scraping up any bits that have stuck to the pan.  Cook until the liquid has evaporated.  Season to taste with kosher salt.  Set aside until you're ready to make your pizza.

2. Make Pizza Dough: In to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, salt, sugar and yeast; whisk around to mix.  In a liquid measuring cup, combine the water and oil.

3. With the mixer running on the lowest speed, slowly pour the liquid into the dry ingredients.  When it's all combined, increase the mixer to medium speed and knead the dough for 4-5 minutes.  The dough should be smooth and pull away from the sides of the bowl but stick slightly to the bottom.  If the dough is sticking to the sides, add some more flour, one teaspoon at a time (allowing it to mix completely), until it clears the sides of the bowl. 

4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead it a few times until it comes together in a ball.  Lightly grease a medium-large bowl with cooking spray and place the dough in the bowl.  Lightly spray the top with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap, and place the dough in a warm spot until it's doubled in size, about 1 hour.

5. Heat your oven as hot as it will go.  Line a sheet tray (approximately 13 x 18 inches) with parchment paper and sprinkle it with cornmeal.

6. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, deflating it.  Hold one edge of the dough in both hands and let gravity stretch it out, rotating it steadily so that it doesn't just stretch too far in one direction and tear, and so that it turns out roughly oval.  Once it's somewhat stretched, lay it down on the cornmeal-sprinkled sheet and continue to pull the thicker parts towards the edge.  The dough's gluten--which is what gives it its stretch and structure--might fight back, so just work around, knowing that it'll take a few tries before it reaches its final shape.  If the dough is being particularly stubborn, let it rest for a minute. The dough is ready to top when you've stretched it to a rough oval/rectangle and it nearly fills the sheet tray.  Leave the edges a little thicker. 

7.  Top the Pizza:  Spread some of the onions around (but don't cover the whole pizza--you don't want to overload the thin crust).  They're a bit goopy and sticky, but just work with it.  Then, sprinkle with the diced sausage, then the spinach.  Finally, sprinkle the cheese all over the toppings. Leaving an inch or so around the edge. 

8. Slide the sheet tray into the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden brown.  Slide the pizza, along with the parchment, onto a large cutting board, and slice it with a pizza wheel or a large chef's knife.  Pizza is best hot, so dig in! 

Enjoy with a side salad! 

1 comment:

  1. This pizza looks amazing! I wish I'd been able to partake in the consuming of it. YUM!