Obligatory fancy pizza post.

10 Apr

I’m a big pizza fan and while I might pretend to be a pizza snob on the outside, deep down I know that it takes a lot for me to turn away a second slice.  From shamefully eating an entire Domino’s pizza in a skeezy Howard Johnson hotel room across from Fenway on a business trip to savoring every last morsel of a pie from Pizzeria de Remo in Rome while watching the motorini dodge cars and people, pizza is a go-to comfort food for me.

I’m much more of a traditionalist when it comes to my favorite pizzas, but the gourmet pizzas have their place.  And while I’ve been making my own pizza crust for about 10 years for those standard thin crust cravings, break out my trusty cast iron when I’m wanting something a little more substantial like a Chicago-style deep dish, I’ve always shied away from the fancier types, thinking those are probably best left to the pros.

This recipe seemed super easy and called for one of my favorite combinations–sweet potatoes and spicy sausage.  The flavors didn’t disappoint.  The cream cheese “sauce” wasn’t too overpowering and the addition of the arugula provided a nice, mildly bitter counterpoint to the sweet potatoes and caramelized onions.  It was too cold to grill the pizza, but I think we might try that next time.

Sweet Potato, Sausage and Caramelized Onion Pizza (adapted from Duo Dishes)

  • 1 pizza dough*
  • 1 head garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 sweet potatoes, with peel
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Italian sausage links, removed from casings (or you can slice them)
  • 2 red onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh arugula

1. Wrap the head of garlic in foil and place it on a baking sheet, along with the sweet potatoes. Roast in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until the potatoes have just begun to soften. Remove from oven to cool slightly, and turn oven’s heat up to 450 degrees.

2. While the potatoes cool, heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium flame. Once hot, add the sausage and brown, cooking until done according to package directions. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.

3. Add the onions directly into the same pan in which the sausage cooked and toss them around in the oil. Cook until they have begun to wilt and turn translucent, approximately 2-3 minutes. Add the bourbon, brown sugar and water. Mix well, then cook another 4-6 minutes or until softened. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

4. By now the garlic should be just cool enough to touch. Carefully squeeze each clove out of the peel, mashing with your fingers as they come out. Stir the roughly mashed cloves into the cream cheese, along with the rosemary, salt and lemon juice, until you have a smooth consistency.

5. The sweet potatoes should also be just cool enough to touch. If not, wait a few more minutes. When ready, slice each one into 1/4″ rounds.

6. Roll out the pizza dough onto a floured surface to the shape of your pizza pan or stone, then carefully place onto the pan or stone. Spread the garlic and cream cheese mixture all around the dough, making sure to cover the surface evenly. Sprinkle the arugula on top, followed by the sweet potatoes and cooked sausage. Top the pizza with the onions.

7. Slide pizza into the oven and bake 10-15 minutes or until the crust is browned, crispy and the onions have darkened in color just slightly. Cool at least 10 minutes before cutting.

*The dough I like to use is made with this recipe.  It’s pretty labor intensive and requires you to let the dough rise overnight, but you can make a bunch all at once and freeze it–it’ll keep for a few months. If you don’t have that kind of time, Trader Joe’s has decent pre-made dough.)

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