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For the Love of a Perfect Pizza

Posted Jan 27 2009 8:20pm

Pizza can get very personal. Elise says that The Perfect Pizza must contain ham and pineapple. As a result, she has that pizza to herself whenever she and Scott order pizza. Two of my college roommates, Emily and Aaron, are now married, and still argue heatedly over whether a pizza should be topped with or without mushrooms. I like 'unusual pizzas,' such as smoked salmon, dill, and goat cheese pizza, and Zach looks at me sceptically whenever I suggest such a combo.

Ultimately, though, Zach and I do agree on our Perfect Pizza. I'm not about to try and convert anyone, but I can vouch for the fact that this is seriously good pizza.

We start by sauteing some onion and garlic...

which makes an especially flavorful marinara sauce...

Homemade pizza dough, of course...

and finally, some very serious toppings.

Our Perfect Pizza

For the dough:
1/2 cup warm water (105 to 110 degrees F)
1 packet quick rising dry yeast
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil

~ Mix the warm water and yeast together, and set aside for 5 minutes.
~ Meanwhile, toss the flour and salt together in a large bowl.
~ Pour the yeast mixture and the olive oil in with the flour, and knead by hand or with a dough hook until smooth.
~ Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl, and turn the dough to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise in a warm, draft-free area just until the toppings are ready.
~ Once the toppings are ready, flour the bottom of a large baking pan or pizza stone, and pat out the dough in a circle or rectangle to the desired thickness. Use your fingers to make depressions approx. 1 inch from the edge, to form the edge of the crust - you'll be piling on lots of toppings, so you need a bit of an edge to hold them in!

For the toppings:
1/2 lb. chicken sausage, sliced OR vegetarian "sausage" style crumbles plus 1 T olive oil
1/2 lb turkey bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces OR vegetarian "bacon" plus 1 T olive oil

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce
1 cup whole black olives
2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Cajun seasoning
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

~ Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
~ In a large skillet, coated with cooking spray, saute the sausage and bacon over medium high heat until browned. Remove, and set aside.
~ Pour off most of the grease in the skillet, leaving just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Saute the onion and garlic until the onion is limp and translucent.
~ Stir the onion mixture into the marinara sauce.
~ To prepare the pizza, spread the marinara mixture across the dough.
~ Scatter the mozzarella cheese on top of the sauce, followed by the olives, and the sausage and bacon.
~ Season to taste with Cajun seasoning, then top with the pepper jack cheese.
~ Bake for 12 minutes - until the crust is lightly golden. Mmmmm...
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