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Author Notes: Several months ago, I served at a last-minute dinner party – with great success – the chicken, Italian sausage and artichoke dish featured in a “Cooking from Every Angle” blog post by Merrill. This pizza uses most of the key ingredients of that dish, minus the chicken. White wine, used to deglaze the pan in which the onions are cooked, mildly flavors the dough. You don’t have to make the dough with white wine, if you have another dough that you like, but it does make the pizza taste good -- not to mention that the dough smells divine while rising. And, as with any pizza I make, cheese is strictly optional. A small handful of coarsely grated pecorino Romano would go nicely. Either way, enjoy!! ;o)
Makes two 12-inch pizzas or one very large rectangle
White Wine Dough
2 large onions, cut in half vertically, then thinly sliced (Also to become a pizza topping.)
¾ cup white wine, divided
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
2 tablespoons fruity olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup wheat germ
1 ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus up to another ½ cup for kneading
¼ teaspoon baking soda (to counteract acidity in the wine, which could affect the yeast)
- N.B.: The technique for using wine this way in dough is a favorite of Gerard Auzet, as shared with the world by Peter Mayle in his delightful, informative book, “Confessions of a French Baker.”
- Proof the yeast in 2 tablespoons of warm water with the pinch of sugar. Set aside.
- In a heavy skillet over medium heat, cook the onions in a few tablespoons of olive oil just until they begin to turn a light golden color. They shouldn’t get too dark.
- Remove the onions – you will use them on the pizza -- and use 1/4 cup of the wine to deglaze the pan over medium heat, scraping up whatever bits you can. Bring to a boil, then turn off. Pour off, with all of the little bits, into a 2 cup liquid measuring cup and add the remaining ½ cup of wine, plus enough cold water to make 1 ¼ cup total.
- Put the wine and water mixture, the honey, olive oil, salt, wheat germ and one cup of flour in a large bowl. Stir it well to combine.
- Add the yeast and water mixture and beat well.
- Stir the baking soda into the remaining two cups of flour and add to the dough mixture. Stir, using the back of the spoon to press the flour into the dough to combine. When it becomes too difficult to stir, dump everything from the bowl onto your kneading surface and begin kneading to incorporate all of the flour from the bowl.
- Continue to knead for about ten or twelve minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. You may need to add up to another ¼ to ½ cup of flour, a bit at a time, while kneading. Don’t add too much, or the dough will be flat and tough.
- Put the ball of dough into a well-oiled bowl, turn it over to coat, and let it rise for at least 2 ½ hours. Three is actually better, if you can manage it.
- (You can also make this dough in the morning and put it in the refrigerator all day, but if you do, please take it out at least an hour before you plan to roll it, and let it sit in a warm place. Also, coat it very well with oil and cover it tightly with plastic wrap while in the fridge.)
- After the dough has risen, punch it down and let it rest while you prepare the topping ingredients. I usually put it on a piece of parchment paper, and on cold days, put both in the microwave oven (but don't turn it on). If you have prepared your toppings in the interim, give the dough at least a fifteen minute rest before rolling it out.
The Toppings -- and Instructions for Assembling and Baking
1 pound of sweet Italian sausages
Olive oil for browning
2 large onions, sliced and cooked (the ones used to flavor the wine used in the dough)
Two 4-inch branches of fresh rosemary
4 small or two large anchovy fillets
4 medium cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped finely
4 ounces of arugula, washed and spun or patted dry
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
One 12- ounce jar of marinated artichoke hearts, well drained (See note below.)
Cheese (whatever you like, strictly optional, i.e., completely unnecessary)
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit for a regular oven (or whatever adjusted temperature your convection oven manufacturer recommends). Put your pizza stones, if using, on the middle racks to preheat for at least twenty minutes after the oven is hot.
- In a tablespoon or two of olive oil, cook the sausages for about five minutes in a large skillet, turning frequently, until firm enough to slice.
- To the pan in which the sausages were cooked, add the (previously cooked) onion slices and stir well, continuing to cook over medium heat.
- Remove the rosemary leaves from the branches and chop. Add to the onions in the pan. Toss to combine.
- Let the onions sit in the skillet, uncovered, while you slice the partially cooked sausages on the diagonal.
- Remove the onions from the skillet. Brown the sausage slices in the skillet over medium low heat at first. You should not need to add any more oil, but if you do, add some.
- When the sausage slices are nice and brown, remove and set aside.
- Turn the heat up to medium high, then put the arugula and chopped parsley in the hot pan and cover immediately. After 2 minutes (or when the arugula is wilted), remove it from the skillet using a slotted spoon, and put it into a bowl. Add the anchovy fillets and garlic and turn the heat on. Stir well until the anchovies appear to melt, taking care not to let the garlic burn. Turn the heat off and, using the back of a large spoon, press down on the arugula in the bowl to drain off as much liquid as possible into the skillet.
- Turn the heat back on and cook down the juices, taking care not to let the garlic burn. The anchovy should be disintegrating. Stir it well to mix with the garlic and pan juices. Return the arugula to the skillet and mix well with the anchovy and garlic.
- FOR EACH PIZZA: Roll out half the pizza dough into a 12-inch round, either on a peel or on a piece of parchment paper. (I usually just roll it right out on the parchment on which I let the dough rest. Then I just put the whole thing -- paper and all -- on the pizza stone when it's good and hot.)
- Put the arugula mixture on first, then the onions, then the sausage slices and artichoke hearts.
- (If using cheese, add it last.)
- Brush the outside edge of dough with olive oil. (The artichoke hearts I buy come in an herb-scented, lightly seasoned oil marinade that I use for this purpose.)
- Cook on the hot pizza stones for about 12 minutes. Check after 10, as they may be ready then. It could also take longer, up to 15 or even 18 minutes, depending on the efficiency and calibration of your oven.
- N.B. If serving as an appetizer or at a casual gathering at room temperature, this is much, much better without any cheese. Or, you could grate some Parmigiano Reggiano and put it down first, as you would in a pissaladiere.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Pizza