Sunday, September 6, 2015

Week 35 - Pizza

I had grand plans for the Week 35 theme, pizza. We were going to be away on our road trip during pizza week, but what I planned to do when we got back was attempt to recreate the pizza al pollo asado that I really like from Trader Joe's. We already had a bag of masa harina that I need to use more of and that would be a creative take on the challenge. Of course, by the time we got back, I was too tired and exhausted from the trip and my ragweed allergies to want to think too much about making that pizza, so I just decided to make a pizza that I hadn't made before and wanted to eat. The challenge is just to make a pizza, no need for it to be spectacular. (I'm not even officially participating anyway!)

For this pizza, I used:

- 1 package of whole wheat pizza dough* ($1.19)
- 1/2 small jar of TJ's pizza sauce ($1)
- 1 lb of sweet Italian pork sausage ($4.49)
- 10 oz box of cremini mushrooms ($1.99)
- 1 onion ($0.50)
- salt and pepper, to taste ($0.03)
- garlic powder, to taste ($0.05)
- 6 oz of shredded quattro formaggio (parmesan, asiago, fontina, provolone) ($2.50)

* Yes, I could have made the dough from scratch for the challenge, but we don't have a ton of counter space. Or a rolling pin. Or a good board to make the dough on. And I was tired. Whatever, I still made a pizza.

The pizza came out to about $11.75. Not really that cheap, but it was filling.

The first step was to prepare the toppings. I chopped up the mushrooms and onions and removed the sausages from their casings. We cooked the sausage first, breaking it up into smaller pieces as it cooked, and then added the mushrooms and onions, letting them saute until there wasn't too much liquid left in the pan.

Once the liquid in the pan started to reduce a little bit, I started setting up the pizza. I sprayed the pan with nonstick spray, added a layer of corn meal, and then began to spread out the dough. Once that was done, it was time to add a layer of pizza sauce and then the toppings (which I drained as I spooned them out because all the liquid wasn't gone, but it was done "enough").

The last thing to add was the cheese, and then we were ready to go. This was the first time I had tried using the quattro formaggio blend on a pizza instead of regular mozzarella, so I was hopeful that it would be good.

I generally follow the instructions on the pizza dough package when it comes to baking, so we baked it at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. I probably left it in there for another minute or so after that just to make sure the cheese was all melted and starting to brown on top. Then we let it sit for a couple of minutes before cutting it up.

Overall the pizza was good, but I was expecting more. I think one of the problems was that the sausage itself wasn't very flavorful. We've bought this sausage in the past and it had lots of spices and flavorings mixed in, but this one was much blander, more like ground meat than sausage. I did add salt, pepper, and garlic powder to it while it was cooking, but most bites, the sausage just didn't live up to what I thought it would be. The quattro formaggio was a good cheese choice though. It added a depth that plain mozzarella (much as we like it) wouldn't have, and covered up for the shortcomings of the meat. While everything together did taste good, it was definitely the cheese that brought it all together and elevated it a bit. So not the most imaginative or creative pizza night, but it was pizza so it counts!

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