Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Deep Dish Sausage, Spinach and Ricotta Pizza with Roasted Garlic

American Pizza is quite different from Italian pizza. American pizzerias form their pizzas with a thicker, chewier crust. Deep dish pizza, popular and readily available in Chicago, is yet a third take on pizza where chewy dough is formed into a delicious edible container for chunky sauce, enabling the pizza to be piled quite high with ingredients. I've combined ricotta, spinach and roasted garlic before (in my tortellonis); this pizza combines those ingredients with spicy Italian sausage, which makes for a decadent cold weather treat. I rendered the fat from the meatballs while searing them and used the spicy, delicious fat as the base for the pizza's sauce. You may find you've made too many meatballs for the dish; they taste great over pasta and keep in the fridge for the following night. I recommend making so many to use all of the fat rendered for the base of the sauce, and also because it is a matter of personal preference how much meat you want on your deep dish pizza. Likewise with the sauce, which will keep up to 4 days in the fridge and several months stored in a tight container in the freezer. In any case this is a very tasty combo and I hope you also enjoy it.

Deep Dish Sausage, Spinach and Ricotta Pizza with Roasted Garlic

Makes one medium sized pizza

8 ounces pizza dough
5 spicy Italian pork sausages
12 ounces baby spinach
¼ cup olive oil
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly
8 cloves of garlic
½ medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
¼ cup ricotta cheese
4 ounces good red wine 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes*
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Remove casings from sausages and form into small meatballs. Each sausage should make 8 - 9 meatballs.
Heat a medium sized heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat and pour in olive oil to cover the bottom. Add sausage meatballs and sear, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides. Remove meatballs and set aside.
Add onions and salt (to taste) to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to caramelize (about 5 - 8 minutes). Crush 3 cloves of the garlic and add it to the pan. Allow to cook for one minute.
Next, pour in wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Add crushed tomatoes and ¼ cup water; if they’re not already seasoned with basil and oregano add ¼ teaspoon each of those also.
Bring the sauce up to a slow boil, then turn heat down all the way. Cook for 20 minutes to allow the flavors to marry. When the sauce has finished set aside to cool and eventually puree sauce.You’ll have made more sauce than you need, but it’s lovely on pasta for the next night and will keep for a few days chilled or a few months, frozen.
In a large pan saute spinach up in batches: cover the bottom of the pan in a thin layer of olive oil and a small sprinkle of salt, then place spinach in and cover with another sprinkle of salt. As the batches finish transfer the spinach to either a sieve or a cheesecloth lined bowl. When it cools, press the moisture out of the spinach.
Chop the remaining garlic into large pieces and dress with a little olive oil. Chop the mini meatballs into quarters or thirds, depending on size.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Roll or stretch out dough large enough to line a 9 x 13” baking dish. Grease your baking dish, then press pizza dough into the dish and about 1 - 2” up the sides. Poke dough all over with a fork and brush olive oil all over the dough. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes.
Now we’re (finally) ready to assemble our pizza! Spread ¼ cup of the sauce over the pizza surface. Sprinkle roughly 1/4 of the meatball pieces over the pizza. Spread spinach evenly over sauce and meat. Drop teaspoon sized dollops of ricotta cheese across pizza. Sprinkle garlic pieces over pizza. Top all over with mozzarella slices. Sprinkle more chopped meatballs over the pizza.
Bake for another 10 - 12 minutes, then cut into slices and serve.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

*if you can find them with basil and oregano that’s the best, otherwise add ¼ teaspoon of both to the sauce when adding the canned tomatoes

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