Remember: It always takes longer than you think to prep everything.
If making a dough that needs time to rise or rest, such as this one, which I want to try next time, prepare the dough 2-3 hours before you want to eat.
Otherwise, if you are using a simple dough recipe like we've mostly used, it should only rest for 5 minutes before being rolled out, so wait until the last to make it.
So, either after making your dough or sometime about 2 hours before you want to eat, begin by setting out about 4 Italian sausages to thaw. We like the Primo ones from Costco, and they are always in our freezer. Then slice a log of fresh mozzarella, rest it on paper toweling to absorb extra moisture, then refrigerate until it's time to layer the pizza.
Thinly slice a sweet onion and begin caramelizing it in a little olive oil and butter on low heat. This can take an hour or more, in spite of many recipes claiming it only takes 15 minutes. We like ours really dark. For steak we let them get crispy, but for pizza, just really dark and almost crispy is good.
At some point when the onions are about done and you are just keeping them warm, push them to one side of the pan and toss in some frozen red bell pepper strips.
We've been using this white pizza sauce recipe from Food.com. Last night the lack of Parmesan cheese in our house led to the happy substitution of Asiago cheese. It's a roux based sauce which might seem a bit strange, but it works. There is a recipe for one with cream that I will try sometime, but usually I don't have cream on hand, so the roux sauce is easiest. There are very few instructions with this recipe, so I'd like to add the following notes:
- find someone to hold the pan still while you stir and add ingredients
- cook the flour and butter over medium low heat for one minute before adding the milk
- after adding the milk, cook the sauce until almost boiling before adding the remaining ingredients - this will result in a thicker sauce that doesn't encourage your toppings to slide off the crust when you cut your pizza
- it's not as good, but if you simply don't have a fresh basil bouquet in a jar or carafe on your kitchen counter, omit it rather than not making pizza at all
Recruit a happy helper to remove the sausage from the casings and make little blobs, about the size of the tip of an adult thumb.
Fire up the grill if you are using gas and try to get it up to somewhere between 500-525° F or so. If you are using charcoal, it would be best if the grill were fired up somewhat more in advance of this stage of things.
If you are making a dough that only needs a few minutes resting time such as Betty Crocker's, now is the time to stir it up. Note: if measuring yeast from bulk, 2 teaspoons is plenty. Last night, we rolled the dough rather than trying to hand toss (or shape, in our case) the crust and it worked really well. Also, if this is made too long in advance, the yeast really goes to work and your dough will get too poofy.
Oil your pizza grill pan and transfer the crust. We have a Pampered Chef pizza grill pan that has slots in the bottom. What we've learned is that once the dough is placed on the pan, you need to get the toppings on as fast as you can and get it on the very hot grill immediately or the dough will begin to work its way through the slots and that makes a royal problem later.
Quickly spread on sauce, but leave a bit from the edge, lay down some sliced fresh mozzarella, but don't get too close to the edge and leave some space between the slices or you will end up with a super slidey (that's not a word?), liquidy (that either?) mess. Add sausage, onions, peppers, and whatever else your heart desires and sprinkle liberally with Asiago, or Parmesan, or Romano cheese.
Grill until it looks done. I don't know exactly how long this takes because my other half is in charge of this step, and it varies with the grill temperature.
Slide it off the grill pan, onto a cutting board.
Practice patience while it rests a minute or two on a cutting board.
Cut. Eat. Swoon.
I apologize for the lack of pictures, I didn't take any along the way last night. I will try to take some next time to add to this post. However, I did take one of my leftovers - they made a great lunch. :)
P.S. I am not an affiliate or have any association with any of the links or companies referenced in this post. They are there for your benefit and mine.