Monday, March 8, 2010

Pizza and Chianti Night

So a few years back a group of our closest friends would gather at the end of a long work week to unwind and share a one would feel like cooking so it was always take-out from our favorite pizza joint and of course lots of vino for our "just because we have kids doesn't mean we don't get to go to happy hour party!" After about a year our pizza place sadly changed and it just wasn't as good. As we now know this is HIGHLY UNACCEPTABLE to me since I look forward to this meal every Friday, it gets me through some of those tough mid-week moments!!! So I took matters into my own hands and started on a quest to make my own pizzas (remember to me this is fun and I get VERY cranky with bad take-out)...this will be the first of many Friday nights pizza recipes to follow and trust me they just get better and better!! I once again have to give credit to my hunky pizza dough/grill man the one and only Fletcher because I think it is fun to get your family and friends into the process of creating any meal because no one wants to be alone in the kitchen while the party is happening outside and sometimes people can just do things better than you can!! Good news is you can make the dough the night before so all you need to do is make the toppings the next day. So the cheerleader in me says......"Let's hear it for Pizza and Chianti night!!!!!" Turn on some tunes, you know who I am listening to and let's get cooking.....

Each pizza serves 4-6

Sausage and Peppers Pizza

2lbs sweet Italian chicken sausage, casings removed (you can use hot if you like spicy)
2 red peppers, sliced
2 yellow peppers, sliced
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes (San Marzano are the best)
1/4 cup sweet Marsala wine (optional but SOOOO good) **secret weapon**
4 Tbsp Olive oil, plus a bit extra (1-2 tsp) to spread on pizza dough
1 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
crushed red pepper to taste
1 lb FRESH mozzarella, sliced thinly
1 ball whole wheat pizza dough, thawed and brought to room temperature (usually in freezer section at grocery store)
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (good for the good stuff that is stamped on the rind)

Heat 2 Tbsp oil in saute pan over medium-heat heat. Add chicken sausage, cook until browned and break-up into bite-sized pieces with back of spoon. Remove from pan, drain any excess fat and set aside, add remaining oil to pan. Add sliced peppers and onions, salt and freshly ground, crushed red pepper and saute until soft about 10-12 minutes, add garlic saute another minute. Add Marsala wine and scrape any browned bits off bottom of pan, allow to cook until liquid is reduced by about half. Add sausage back into pan, add tomatoes and basil let simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes to let the flavors blend and sauce thickens. Meanwhile heat grill or use a pizza stone in the oven (400 degrees) Roll pizza dough out to desired size (use some flour so it doesn't stick to the surface you are rolling it on)...doesn't have to be perfect I like a rustic looking shape but about 1/2" thick. Brush one side of the dough with olive oil and place on heated surface cook about 10 minutes on just one side, remove and let cool (from here you can wrap the dough in plastic wrap and save for the next day) Place the cooked side face-up and spread the sausage and pepper mixture evenly over the top leaving an outer edge. Place sliced mozzarella around the top and sprinkle the parmigiano on top. Place back on heat source (oven or grill) and cook until cheese is melted and slightly browned. Let the pizza sit about 5 minutes before slicing it up and get those taste buds ready to have a little party in your mouth!! Pour some vino, gather with your friends and laugh...the week is over but the weekend is just beginning!!!! Enjoy!

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