Tonight was pizza night! Every once and a while we'll go mess up someone else's kitchen. Last night we were at our friend's house for a Christmas party and she put out one hell of a spread. As we were getting ready to leave, we got to talking about leftovers and I mentioned pizza. Pizza is a very versatile flavor delivery device. In this case she had lots of different things, but not huge amounts of one particular item. With such a large array of ingredients, it was easy to convert them into pizza toppings.
With toppings available we need a crust. Here's my favorite quick crust:
Beer Pizza Dough
4 cups Self-Rising Flour
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 12 ounce bottle of beer
Take 3 1/2 cups of flour (reserve the remaining 1/2 cup) and combine with salt and sugar. Add olive oil and beer. Mix thoroughly, use a dough hook if available. Remove dough ball from bowl and work remaining 1/2 cup of flour into dough until ball is smooth with a slight shine (sticky is okay). Let the dough rest for about 30 minutes, covered with a warm, moist towel or heading pad.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Divide ball in two. Roll out ball on floured surface to desired consistency and depth (I prefer about 1/4 inch thick). Cover pizza stone or pizza pan with light coating of corn meal. Place toppings on pizza and place in oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
One note, if you are going to be placing A LOT of moist ingredients on the pizza or you plan on grilling the pizza, I highly recommend you par bake the pizza for 5 minutes before you place the toppings on the crust.
These are very basic instructions and there are definitely lots of things you could do with this recipe.
Here are some ideas:
1) Deep Dish Pizza
Substitute 1/4 cup of vegetable shortening for olive oil. Use a cast iron skillet instead of pizza pan. Layer Italian sausage (removed from casing, on bottom, cover with slices of mozzarella cheese and sauce. Cook ad 350 degrees for between 45 minutes to 1 hour.
2) Honey Porter Caramelized Onions
Substitute 2 tablespoons of honey for the 1 tablespoon of sugar. Use 12 ounces of Porter. To enhance the flavor of the onions, cook slowly over medium heat stirring constantly. Add another 6 to 12 ounces of porter to the pan to help deglaze the pan and add in color and caramelization. cover pizza dough with onions and shredded Swiss cheese.
3) Continental Pizza
In a medium saucepan pour 1 cup port wine and 1/2 cup of sugar bring to a simmer. Quarter and core 3 small pears. Place pears, cut side down into pan and continue to simmer for 10 minutes. Place pears on dough. Cover with Gorgonzola, Fontina, Mozzarella, caramelized onions, and chopped hazelnuts.
4) Moroccan Pizza
Take left over lamb and shred. cover dough with layer of tomato sauce. Sprinkle cinnamon over sauce. Add lamb, mozzarella, and crumbled feta cheese
5) Pizza Verde
Use Pesto sauce, sliced chicken breast, and Italian sausage. Cover in fontina and mozzarella cheese.
Remember, the beer will flavor the dough, which may overpower the toppings. I use a lighter beer like Corona for most dough, but a stout or a porter can provide wonderfully rich flavor as well.