Yes, you could just order a pizza and have it delivered, but how fun is that? Been there, done that, right—like at least 5,000 times? Why not throw one together at home for a change and exercise that creative muscle.
We first saw this version in a recent Fine Cooking Magazine article. Now I must admit, Brussels sprouts is not the first topping I think of, nor is it in even in the top ten! And why make the “sausage” yourself when you can buy it already flavored? Truth is, we like a culinary challenge. Plus, you can adjust the seasonings to suit your personal preferences.
It starts with the pizza dough which we bought at the supermarket, but go ahead and make one if you’re so inclined. The recipe calls for one pound, but ours weighed in at about 2/3 of a pound, which, because we prefer thin crust, was not an issue for us. We just knew we’d have to make a few adjustments.
What was bothering me, was putting the veggies slices on the pie without cooking them first. I knew there was no way they’d be tender enough in just a few short minutes in the oven. Therefore I had the brilliant idea to sauté them briefly in the hot sausage fat. Then I returned the cooked sausage to the veggies and kept them all warm while the crust got happy in the oven.
Verdict? It was real good! Now we won’t be so hesitant to think of Brussels sprouts as a pizza topping… Our changes are included in the directions below.
TIP: Sausage can be made ahead and stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Make sure to rewarm it before topping the pizza.
Preheat oven to 500°F. Adjust oven rack to lowest position.
Place dough on a well-oiled 17×13-inch baking pan or a 14-inch pizza pan. Press and stretch the dough to the edges of the pan. Let dough rest 5 minutes. If necessary, stretch dough again to cover pan. (This took me several attempts and at least 30 minutes to accomplish.)
In a large bowl combine pork, fennel seeds, salt, and crushed red pepper. Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Drop 1/2-inch pieces of meat mixture into the hot skillet. Cook until meat is no longer pink, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, trim bottoms from Brussels sprouts and remove any browned outer leaves. Thinly slice the sprouts.
Remove sausage from skillet with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Add the Brussels sprouts and onion slices to the hot sausage fat. Cook for several minutes until they begin to soften. Place sausage back into skillet with the veggies, turn the heat to low and keep warm.
Bake the pizza dough on lowest oven rack for 8-10 minutes, until the edges start to brown. Remove crust from oven.
Top with half the cheese, sausage, Brussels sprouts, onion, and garlic. Add the remaining cheese and drizzle with 1 Tbsp. oil. Bake 10 to 12 minutes more or until edges are crisp and toppings are browned, turning pan once to ensure even browning. (Because our crust was so thin, and the toppings were warm when we assembled the pie, our pizza only took 5 minutes.)
If desired, drizzle with additional olive oil before serving.
How about another twist to the all-american hambuger? You don’t even have to get a grill going because these Smoky Chili-Garlic Pork Burgers are done directly in a skillet. And no special skills are needed here, just a willingness to mix a few ingredients together and give one flip to each pattie. OK, and add a slice of provolone cheese if that’s the way you roll.
Speaking of rolling, the original recipe indicated to make four patties from one pound of pork. Well, we roll a bit bigger than that, making three burgers from a one-pound-plus package of meat. And yes, we did top them with a slice of provolone!
The secret to these burgers is the spicy-sweet flavor and a mild garlickiness from some Asian chili-garlic sauce and a little brown sugar mixed into the ground pork. Plus a smear of chili-garlic mayonnaise on the buns to complete the package. Pillow-soft, subtly sweet buns, such as brioche or potato rolls, are a particularly good match for the tender, juicy burgers.
Garnish with Bibb lettuce leaves, sliced heirloom tomato, and dill pickle chips. Our side of apple cranberry slaw was the perfect counterpoint to the smoky, spicy burgers. But be aware, these puppies pack some heat, so if you harbor a delicate palette, these may not be for you. They had our names written all over them!
3-4 hamburger buns, preferably brioche or potato rolls
Large slicing tomato, preferably heirloom
Sliced provolone cheese or your preference, (optional)
In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce and 1 teaspoon sugar.
In a medium bowl, mix the pork, paprika, the remaining 2 tablespoons chili-garlic sauce, the remaining 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.
Form into 3 or 4 patties. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet (or a carbon steel skillet like us), heat the oil until shimmering. Add the patties, turn the heat down to medium and cook, flipping once, until well browned on both sides and the centers reach 160°F, 8 to 10 minutes total (perhaps a minute or two longer if you made 3 larger patties).
If desired, add a slice of cheese while the patties are still in the pan, turn off the heat and cover for one minute to allow the cheese to melt.
Serve in buns spread with the mayonnaise mixture and topped with lettuce, tomato and pickle chips.
Chitalian Fusion is what we dubbed this pairing of satay like flavors with pasta and green herbs. Flavorful, but not too hot. You may not expect bright, Asian-inspired flavors to be paired with Italian rotini pasta, but it’s a great choice for holding onto the sauce. Like Pad Thai, although easier to eat than with the long noodles—yet where are the veggies?
My initial issue was the overall drab color of the dish. Cooked pork, with regular pasta, peanut butter and scallions—where’s the color? So I started with tri-colored rotini, and added snow peas and three small, different colored baby bell peppers. Now it was a fiesta on a plate, visually appealing enough to want to dive in.