Friday, December 11, 2009

White Pizza with Sweet Italian Sausage

Sometimes our Friday Night Pizzas are pretty involved or have a fairly lengthy ingredient list. While those are always good, there are those pizzas, like tonight's White Pizza with Sweet Italian Sausage, that have very few ingredients and can be a spectacular surprise.

You can use a regular sweet Italian pork sausage, but as we often do to lighten things up, I used a turkey version that we have become a loyal user of. Because we wanted meaty nuggets of the sausage, we removed the casing from the links, but didn't crumble it as it cooked in the skillet. Instead, we flattened the sausage slightly, browned it in the skillet and then broke it up by hand to get the grandiose chunks. Those pieces were then tossed around in a bowl with half of the shredded mozzarella called for.

Using our favorite whole-wheat pizza dough that I buzzed up earlier in the food processor, we stretched the ball of dough into a rough round, slid it onto our heated stone that keeps residence in the bottom of our oven and gave it a few minutes head start to firm up. This helps give us the crisp crust we like, but if you prefer a softer base, skip the pre-bake and just top the raw dough. On top of the stiff round, we dolloped a mixture of creamy ricotta cheese, spiked with fresh parsley and chopped chives, along with salt and fresh ground black pepper. We did spread the ricotta smooth to cover the top, but we kept the rim around the outside clean and gave the naked edge a once-over with a bit of extra-virgin olive oil.

Over the thick white ricotta layer, we scattered the burly sausage and mozzarella mixture, then followed that up with the rest of the mozzarella and a couple tablespoons of grated Asiago cheese (if you don't keep Asiago in your refrigerator, swap that out with an equal amount of Parmesan). I realize, especially after writing it out, that the funky mozzarella step seems a bit redundant - why not just throw the sausage on top and then finish with all of the cheese at once? You could, but I noticed as the warm sausage hit the bowl of cheese, the shreds started to melt slightly and cling to the crumbles to drive its mild flavor in.

Baked once more to turn the cheese into a melt-y flood that envelops the top, when we pulled the pizza off the stone with our trusty peel, we freshened up the top with another dose of parsley and chives. Quite cheesy and very meaty, with a contrasting nutty crunch of the crust underneath, I really have nothing more to say other than don't wait too long to go out and gather the ingredients to make this pizza for yourself! I'd usually opt for hot Italian sausage, with a few crushed red pepper flakes for good measure, in a pizza like this, but that sweet sausage completely won me over in this combination.


  1. Okay, this is on the Menu for Monday night. Yum!

  2. Joe, love the idea with the italian sausage. Ours was olives-pepperoni this week. We love our Friday Night Pizza.

    I am making the Rolled Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Prosciutto and Barley for the second time tonight. I can't thank you enough for this recipe. It's a 15/10 for us.

    Have a great night!

  3. i'm a turkey sausage fan too. gonna try a version of this tomorrow. thx

  4. I made this tonight. Should have made 2 (or more). We had a bunch of teenagers over, so I had some ready-to-bake pepperoni pizzas. I decided to throw this together for me & hubby. Well, it turns out, some teenagers have more high-brow taste than pepperoni pizza! Hubby & I each only got 1 slice and he says I need to make it again. :)