I just hate to waste food. I had two links of spicy turkey sausage and half a container of baby portobello mushrooms left over from the soup I made the other night, so after browsing Epicurious and Food Network's website I decided to use them to make pizzette, as Michael Chiarello and Giada De Laurentiis call them - little pizzas that are no bigger than a salad plate and are oblong, rather than completely round.
Pizzas, like quesadillas, seem like a very easy, if not terribly clever, way to use up ingredients you might have hanging around in the fridge. So after work I pulled out some home made marinara sauce I had in the freezer and swung by Trader Joes to pick up some cheese and a couple bags of pizza dough. If I had had more time before Nip/Tuck started, I might have attempted to make my own dough, but to be honest with you, I've not had the best success with anything involving yeast.
Once I arrived back home I began by making the pizzette topping. (Well actually I set the oven to 400 degrees F and slid in my pizza stone to pre-heat)
(for the topping)
extra virgin olive oil
2 links spicy Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 sprigs rosemary, stripped from stem and minced
Half a container of sliced baby portobello mushrooms (I'm sorry I don't know the exact amount, but it was pretty much two large handfulls)
Half a 0.5 ounce container dried Porcini mushrooms, reconstituted in warm water for about 20 minutes, liquid reserved
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Begin by heating a non-stick saute pan over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom. When the oil is hot, pinch off little chunks of the sausage into the pan. Let the sausage brown for a minute or so and then add the garlic and rosemary, stirring until fragrant. Then add the mushrooms and several tablespoons of the mushroom soaking liquid. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the mushrooms have a deeper color and most of the liquid is gone, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and place in bowl until ready to use.
Next I rolled out the pizza dough.
I bought two different kinds of dough, whole wheat and garlic herb. I cut each ball into four pieces and rolled them into small ovals, which I have to say, are easier to handle than a circle. Nice round circles tend to easly loose their shape and soon you wind up with ugly pizzas shaped like Texas. I layered the dough on a cookie sheet, separated by layers of parchment paper.
Then I gathered my other ingredients.
Along with my marinara sauce and the sausage and mushroom mixture I had three kinds of cheese: Gruyere (which I happened to have in the fridge), a small ball of Mozzeralla, and a little log of goat cheese. I ought to point out that I did not mix the three cheeses. I made several pizzas and did different cheeses on each of them.
The next step, which is pretty much the main step - actually assembling the pizza, is a little tricky and I've had problems in the past. One other time when I made a pizza at home, I rolled out my dough, spread on the sauce, added the toppings and showered it all with cheese and then realized that I was going to have to get it off the board, SOME how and onto the VERY hot pizza stone, without burning myself. I had visions that I would shove the pizza onto the stone while yanking the board out from underneath, as though removing a tablecloth from a fully set table. Instead, due to the layout of my kitchen, I do not have to room to position myself directly in front of the oven and therefore the the slick shove/yank method was out of the question. I wound up lifting up each edge, the middle stuck to the board, the edges ripped and the whole thing spilled onto the hot pizza stone and burnt.
Since that time, I've gone over to my friend Annie's several times, where we successfully make pizza on her Weber Bar-B-Q grill. Her method is easy and seems to work really well. She takes the dough, paints it with olive oil, puts the oil side down on the grate and closes the lid. After maybe five minutes or so, the dough has begun to bubble and at this point she paints the top side with olive oil and then flips it. Then it becomes a race against time to hurry and add the toppings and cheese and get the lid down so the cheese has time to melt but the bottom doesn't get too brown. The resulting pizzas are nice and light and with a very crisp crust.
I decided that perhaps this was the way to go about my pizzette. So I did just that, but with the pizza stone taking the place of the grill rack. I painted one side of the dough with olive oil, put that side down and then after about five minutes, gave it a flip, topped it with the sauce, mushrooms and cheese and then cooked it for about 10 to 12 more minutes. The first couple pizzas were oddly shaped and the bottom wasn't as crisp as I would have liked but as I did a few more I began to get a hang of the technique.
They're pretty, right?
Although, I have to say, making pizza at home? Kind of a pain in the ass. I mean, they tasted great and all. The sausage and mushroom topping was fantastic, particularly with the goat cheese (not pictured) but next time I might just order out. Or go to Annie's.