Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Snowpocalypse Cooking School- Cast Iron Cornmeal Crust Pizza

I traveled to Indy to be in place for a trip for travel for possible duty in another location, only to find I was stuck, no flights going anywhere with heavy snows and wind chills in the minus 40's.  So back on local duty schedule and nothing much is happening except wandering back and forth across the crash pad like a bear at the zoo trying to decide what to make for dinner.  I know!   Pizza.   And the experiment began.

Want a non deep dish, crisp sausage transport unit (also known as pizza crust) you don't have to overbake your ingredients to get?  How about one that also has the light, delicate crunch of cornmeal, and though much thinner than deep dish, will hold up to thick, juicy toppings without being tough.

Cast Iron  is your friend. A simple crust infused with cornmeal.  Add in easy homemade sausage with fennel, sage and nutmeg and a hint of sweetness, it's a perfect pizza for  a light lunch and will feed 2 easily.

Makes one 11-12 inch pizza

Sausage (makes enough for a couple of pizzas or pizza and breakfast)

  • 3/4  pound ground pork
  • 1/4 pound ground turkey or venison
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped onion
  • 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 3/4 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper and salt to taste.

  • Mix and let set in fridge for a couple hours or overnight for flavors to blend, and fry, breaking up into chunks for pizza or breakfast sausage and gravy later.
    Pizza Crust (for one crust)

    1  and 1/4 cup all purpose flour 
    1 teaspoon active dry yeast
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon honey
    1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon warm water (about 120 degrees)
    1 Tablespoon olive oil (I used Artisano's butter flavored oil)
    1/3 cup cornmeal

    Whisk active dry yeast in the warm water and let it sit until the yeast is active, which takes about 10 minutes
    In medium bowl mix salt and one cup of the flour. Add honey and oil to the yeast/water mixture after the ten minutes are up and whisk well.  Pour this into dry ingredients  (including the cornmeal) and mix briskly with a wooden spoon until ingredients are mixed and the dough looks slightly shaggy but holds a rough doughball shape. If it looks a bit wet, sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup flour.

    Turn out the board dusted with a little flour and knead until the dough is smooth and pliable, about 4 minutes. Place the dough in an lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat, and let it sit, covered in a warm place for 1 and 1⁄2  hours (until double in size).  Roll  or pat out  (this is a really easy dough to form)  to be slightly larger than your seasoned and lightly oiled cast iron pan (mine is 12 inches) and transfer to the pan, building up the edge slightly.
    Top with a cup of jarred or homemade red pasta sauce (just enough to lightly cover the crust, a big handful of sausage (use remaining sausage in a breakfast dish tomorrow), and a couple handfuls of Mozzarella.  Place pan with crust on stove burner on medium/high for 3 minutes then transfer  hot pan to 450  F. degree oven and bake until edges are  lightly golden and cheese is melted  11-13 minutes (check it at 10 minutes though, some ovens bake hotter).  This ensures a nice crisp crust on the bottom and the pan is the perfect temperature for quick, even heating in the oven.

    The best part - the recipe is easy enough to make you can whip up another one that evening  to freeze  (just sticking it on the porch for 10 minutes right now would work) for another night at home.  (For best results, place cooled pizza on pieces of paper towel  (top and bottom) and freeze in air tight container.  Thaw, and when pizza is room temperature, cook in a preheated 400 F. oven on a baking pan for 12-15 minutes.)

    How about one with a  spicy thick red sauce (substitute 1/4 cup of the  pasta sauce with tomato paste and add 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper and a generous sprinkle of Italian seasoning) 
    Pineapple and BACON
    with a sprinkling of smoked cheddar


    1. I shouldn't have read it, now I am hungry, I like the corn meal part, that sounds good. No snow here but cold. Two Osprey just made a low pass over the farm and rattled the windows that don't rattle, I don't know about those guys, they make a lot of noise while trying to be so stealthy. Anyway, stay warm.

    2. You made me hungry, it's good that you have to work, if not you would spend too much time in the kitchen. Oh on second thought maybe you should retire so we could see more of your food meals. Stay warm and be safe. It's not too bad here in Okla. just cold and windy.

    3. Everything tastes better when it's cooked in cast iron. That, however, would be tasty if it was cooked on a flat rock.

    4. That looks GOOD. Let's see, I can be there in about 10 hours ... :)

    5. Bacon YES!

      Whatever floats your boat!

      Perhaps substitute Canadian Bacon for domestic?

      In either case, the pizza and crust sound yummy!.

      (Great - now I'm hungry, like everyone else.


    6. That looks like warm and toasty pizza goodness.

      Hope everyone is hanging in back there. It makes me shiver just watching the news about it.

    7. Food coma in 3....2....1....
      We had pizza yesterday but not home made, frozen...

    8. I know what I am making this weekend. I am just getting into using cast iron. Sometimes things work out well, other times, not so much. Going to have to give this one a try. Take care and stay warm.

    9. Boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.....BACON on Pizza!



    10. Brigid,
      Our apologies, we seem to have sent our weather south for the winter. You have been getting our snow, no need to return it.

    11. Sweet Baby Jesus! Why I have not ever thought about making pizza in my cast iron? THANK YOU... to leading me to another piece of foodie heaven.

    12. Thanks Brigid for the idea of using the cast iron fry pan, makes the most delicious pizza. The crust and bottom are well cooked. I used ham where you used bacon then I call it a Hawaiian pizza.

    13. Sunnybrook Farm - late in replying, I had a kind of busy week. It's pretty hard to be stealthy in an Osprey.

      old okie - if I retire, I'll probably cook a little more, but I won't totally retire, some folks want to pay me $500 a day to be an "expert witness" for stuff in my specialty. That would pay for a decent amount of bacon, even a few days a month.

      LL - oh indeed

      cw swanson - you're probably right, but if you photographed the rock outcome it could hang in the London Museum of Art.

      Rev Paul - sorry, all gone.

      armedlaughing - don't knock it til you've tried it. :-)

      naturegirl - I hope that sometime you will be out this way and we can share a meal. Til then, stay warm and safe.

      Rob - good coma yes.

      RichD - Og can give you my phone number if you need any hints, but it's pretty simple.

      Idahobob - Amish bacon on a pizza. Oh yes.

      Mrs S - thank you for your kind delivery, we inspected it and sent it to the Northeast where it would annoy some liberals.

      bulletsandbiscuits - it's pretty darn good.

      Lynn - thank you for taking the time to comment. It is easy and it's good. I loved the Hawaiian Pizza, but I was snowed in and had no ham so. . . .

    14. Okay. I am missing something here. Do you use the cornmeal in the dough? I am not seeing in the recipe where the cornmeal was put. I have always used cornmeal to "dust" my pizza stones, but never in the crust itself.


    15. Country Tea - I had the words "pour the 9east water) into the dry ingredients" and figured people would know O, but in reading I can see I could have written that more clear. a note was added. Thanks!


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