Serious Eats: Recipes

Cook the Book: Pizza with Sausage & Peppers

[Photographs: Caroline Russock]

The pizzas served at Otto, Mario Batali's New York City pizzeria, might not be made in a way that the VPN or many pizza purists might agree with, but the technique that they've developed is a boon to any aspiring home pizza-maker.

In Molto Gusto by Mario Batali and Mark Ladner, the par-baking method of pizza-making used at Otto is broken down for the home kitchen. The recipes I tested ended up producing some of the most picturesque and tasty pizzas that have ever come out of my oven.

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There are a few major areas where this method of pizza-making differs from the traditional. First, the dough is much wetter and stickier than the norm; this makes for easy stretching and quick cooking.

Second, the dough is par-cooked on a stove top griddle, on both sides, and then topped and finished in the oven. This way you can ready all your dough rounds for topping and then finish them to order, attaining the kind of charred crust that you rarely see on a homemade pizza. This method makes it easy to make pizzas for a crowd, since finishing them under a scorching-hot broiler only takes a few minutes.

While a large cast iron skillet will do the trick, I used the pizza griddle that Batali developed specifically for these recipes. Once the dough was par-cooked, I transferred it to a smaller cast iron pan to finish.

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I tried a number of toppings out on my par-baked pizza dough, but the Sausage and Peppers were by far my favorite. The porky sausage paired with sweet piquillo peppers, salty capers, and tart balsamic was about as balanced and addictive as you can get. The recipe calls for Pomì strained tomatoes, and I'd recommend seeking them out. They have a fresh flavor that makes them perfect straight out of the carton.

With this method of pizza-making it's best to eat the pizzas straight out of the oven, as they have a tendency to get soggy if they sit around. This can be remedied by a quick pass under the broiler if need be.

Win Molto Gusto

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Molto Gusto to give away this week.

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