A few weeks ago I gave a friend a verbal whupping for calling a concoction he'd made of vegetables and melted cheese atop a piece of naan a pizza. On any given day, this guy is Mr. Italian American, gushing about Sunday "gravy" and salty meat and cheese sandwiches, so I was flabbergasted by his irreverent pizza misnomer.
"Pizza," though, has already been stretched thin by recipe adaptations. There are saag paneer pizzas, ramen pizzas, Pizzaritos, and French pizzas, to name a few. The intent isn't to oust authentic Italian originals (or Italian-American iterations) but to underscore the infallibility that the culinary basics of a pizza--breadlike bottom and toppings, fired in a hot oven--are genius and almost ubiquitously appreciated. My friend's naan creation is another case and point.
Pizza, the concept, is also a perfect palette for Meat Lite concoctions. It might be called a pepperoni pie, but those spicy discs share the stage with the other pivotal toppings. A few slices of salami make this Meat Lite Antipasto Pizza just meaty enough under peppery arugula and other veggies. Mushrooms carry the bulk of the meat texture with a few crumbles of sausage on this Mushroom, Sausage, Goat Cheese and Chive Grilled Pizza. And my coauthor, Joy Manning, and I couldn't close the recipe index in our book without including a pizza; our Almost Meatless version is Chicken Pizza with Arugula Pesto and Sun-Dried Tomatoes.
I suppose I'm mostly a purist when it comes to classic pizza as any formal definition describes it, which puts me on defense in the face of newfangled pizza inventions. I scoffed at a potato pizza the first time I heard of one, but then I tasted it and it sort of shut me up a little.
So, Grande, you make your naan pizza and I'll save you a piece of this Potato and Sausage Pizza with Shallots and Fontina, and we'll call it a truce over a few slices in South Philly.
About the author: Tara Mataraza Desmond writes about, cooks, and eats food for a living. She blogs about food and life through words and pictures at Crumbs on My Keyboard.
- 4 small golden potatoes
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 link (about 2.5 ounces) of Italian Sausage, mild or spicy
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
- 3 large shallots, peeled and sliced very thin
- 1 pound ball of prepared, risen and ready to roll pizza dough
- 4 ounces grated Fontina cheese (about 1 1/4 cups)
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Preheat the oven to 500°F. Slice the potatoes 1/8-inch thick on a mandolin (if you have rock star knife skills and feel confident in your ability to bang out paper-thin slices by hand, go for it. Either way, watch your fingers.)
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the sausage from its casing and crumble the meat into the hot pan. Cook the meat about 5 to 7 minutes, breaking it up into smaller bits with a wooden spoon as it browns.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic and shallots to the pan and saute with the sausage.
Stretch the dough out and press it onto your preferred pizza-baking surface (mine is a 14-inch cast iron pizza pan). Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the dough and then set half of the potato slices in one layer across the dough. Put the other half of the potatoes in the pan with the sausage and cover with a lid or foil. Transfer the dough to the hot oven and bake for 5 minutes.
Remove the pizza from the oven and sprinkle half the Fontina over the first layer of pototes. Then spread the sausage, garlic, shallots and remaining potatoes on top. Season with salt and pepper. Add the rest of the Fontina and the Parimigiano-Reggiano. Return the pizza to the oven and bake 10 to 15 minutes more, until the cheese is bubbly, the crust is golden and the potatoes are tender.