I love it when widely accepted food myths get busted. Like butter turning out to be a good thing (did we really doubt Julia Child there for awhile?). Or finding out that eggs don’t cause heart disease. Now it’s time to clear up another point of contention: Pizza is not bad for you. It is also not complicated or time-consuming to make (two myths busted!). And—since we’re on a myth-busting roll here—you don’t need a backyard brick oven or lots of fancy equipment to make a good pie at home.
What you maybe do need are some tips from an expert. Food writer and stylist Suzanne Lenzer‘s tried and true recipes and tips leave me knowing exactly why pizzas I’ve made in the past have been lackluster, and why they never will be again. I’m going to dig out my old pizza stone (buried deep in a dark cabinet after my last pizza fail), and bust our family’s myth that home delivery is better than homemade.
It may even become our favorite new weeknight 30-minute meal dinners, thanks to one of Lenzer’s tips on freezing dough, a game-changer for me. As is her master dough recipe (which Mark Bittman calls “the best pizza crust I’ve ever had”), and her recipes for snacks and small bites to pair with a glass of wine while the pizza cooks. Our delivery guy is about to see a lot less of us.
“Having a favorite pizza for me is kind of like having a favorite pet–I can’t do it. I love them all in different ways. But this pizza is special somehow. It’s soothing to make as well as to eat. Something about the claret-toned shreds of radicchio tangled up with the syrupy balsamic, the way the leaves wilt and weep in the vinegar, how it melts down into demure-looking little bundles, secretly screaming with flavor. It’s a small step in the grand scheme of the pizza-making process, but for me this sort of sauteing and deglazing is a very meditative part of cooking; like stirring risotto or making lemon curd, the process is quiet but the outcome is full of energy.” — Suzanne Lenzer
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This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to our winner, Jenny!
Truly, Madly, Pizza
One Incredibly Easy Crust, Countless Inspired Combinations & Other Tidbits to Make Pizza a Nightly Affair
by Suzanne Lenzer, foreword by Mark Bittman
Photographs by Christopher Testani
- 2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 links sweet Italian sausage (about 5 ounces), casings removed
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, roughly crushed
- 1 head radicchio, very thinly sliced
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 to 3 tablespoons good-quality balsamic vinegar, or to taste
- 1 ball pizza dough, thawed if frozen
- About 3 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into bite-size pieces
- ¼ cup whole-milk ricotta cheese (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 550°F.
- In a medium saucepan or skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and fennel seeds, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, using a wooden spoon to break it up, until well browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.
- Place the same skillet (with the fat from the sausage) over high heat to cook the radicchio, adding the remaining 1 tablespoon oil if necessary. When hot, add the radicchio and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir constantly (think of this as a stir-fry of sorts) until the thin leaves begin to wilt, about 3 minutes. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of vinegar depending on how bright you want the flavor, and continue cooking over high heat until the liquid is nearly evaporated and just glazing the radicchio. Taste and season, if needed, with more vinegar, salt, and pepper.
- Shape the pizza crust and scatter the mozzarella evenly over the it. Top with the sausage and then spread tangles of the radicchio over everything. If you like, drop dollops of fresh ricotta randomly on top of the radicchio.
- Transfer the pizza to the oven and bake (on a pizza stone or oiled baking sheet, dusted with cornmeal) until the crust is nicely browned and the cheese has melted, 6 to 10 minutes.