Ready for something delicious?
Yep, it's January 5th and I'm giving you pizza. But wait! Don't run away, there's veggies and fresh herbs to go with the meat and not that much cheese, and a slice or two of this is just what's called for in our first week back at work post-holiday. You know I'm right.
When I was in Sydney a few months ago I had plenty of opportunities to eat alone. For the most part, those solo meals were actually pretty enjoyable. There was no one to argue over the menu with, everyone at my table was ordering a second drink, and the people watching and eavesdropping opportunities were primo. However, one Tuesday night I headed over to what I was told was a popular neighborhood pizza spot, and found myself to be the only customer in the place, with a prime sidewalk-facing table and absolutely no one to eavesdrop on. Even the street I was facing was dead, and the waiter kept wandering outside to try to entice customers, so there was no awkward small talk to be had there, either.
It turned out to be ok though, because once I received my pie with its lamb sausage, goat cheese, and mint, I was fully entertained by daydreaming how I would soon be recreating it in my own kitchen. A few months after I got back stateside, I finally did, and I must say, I think my pizza outshines the original. For one, I replaced the dry, rubbery eggplant (the only bad element) with artichoke hearts and the salty olives with preserved lemon, and added some harissa to give the pizza some extra heat. The result was thumbs up all around. Well, two of my thumbs up because much like that Sydney meal, I ate this alone. But, it turns out it makes great leftovers, so I'm still alright with that.
Merguez Sausage Pizza with the Works
Inspired by the "Lamb of God" at Pocket Pizza in Manly
- 1 package pizza dough (I prefer the store-made versions from Trader Joe's or Whole Foods)
- 4-5 oz merguez sausage
- 3/4 cup crushed tomatoes (recommend San Marzano)
- 3/4 tbs Harissa
- salt, to taste
- 3/4 cup canned artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
- 2 oz goat cheese
- 1 tbs preserved lemon, rinsed and chopped
- 1 tbs fresh mint leaves, torn
- Preheat a pizza stone or steel in oven at max temperature. If not using a pizza steel or stone, preheat oven to max temperature, and lightly grease a sturdy baking sheet.
- Set pizza dough on the counter to come to room temperature. Remove the casing from the sausage. Cut a slit the length of the sausage and then peel the casing off. Form loose sausage into small meatballs (about 1/2 tsp). I got about 28 total.
- Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and brown the meatballs until almost cooked through. Be gentle with them as they may break apart. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
- In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes and harissa and season with salt to taste.
- Roll or stretch out pizza dough into a very thin round. Transfer to your lightly greased baking sheet, or if using a pizza steel or stone, to a pizza peel or upside down baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper laid over it.
- Spoon the tomato sauce mixture around the dough, leaving a 1-inch border. Top with the meatballs and artichoke. Form the goat cheese into small balls and dot on top of the pizza. Transfer the pizza to the oven: if using pizza steel, carefully slide the parchment from the peel or baking sheet onto the steel or stone. (I use a baking sheet, and it's easiest (and safest) to pull out the baking rack a bit, position the baking sheet about 3/4 of the way into the oven, and slide the parchment off the sheet onto the pizza steel.) Bake, about 13-15 minutes until the crust is cooked through and golden.
- Remove the pizza from the oven (if using baking sheet as pizza peel, use a good pair of tongs to slide the cooked pizza and parchment onto the back of the baking sheet). Scatter with the preserved lemon and mint. Cut into slices and serve hot.