Now that it's pretty much winter, it felt like time to make my meatball heros, all warm and saucy on crusty bread. Jesse loves my meatballs. It must be the Italian side coming out in me that I can make great meatballs just like my old Italian aunts, without even knowing their recipe. Usually, I end up with leftover meatballs, which I make into another hero for lunch, or add to pasta or something. But this time I hit upon a great idea - to use the leftover meatballs on homemade pizza.
This was my first attempt at making pizza, dough and all, from scratch (well, except for the tomato sauce, that came from a can), and it was a huge success. Just look at the photo - crunchy, warm, with the right combination of sauce, cheese, and toppings, and the taste of whole wheat to make it really feel homemade and good for you. Jesse couldn't stop raving. In between every bite, he declared that this was the best thing I've ever made. He even said he would marry me just for my meatballs and pizza, now combined in the greatest dish of all, meatball pizza.
After enjoying the pizza, we geared up for a suprisingly easy and not too cold five mile bike ride to the Columbia Street waterfront district for an open bar with Sixpoint beer, and a friend's birthday party. After riding back drunk on the empty Brooklyn streets at 3am, we toasted up the leftover pizza, scarfed it down, and passed out. What a perfect way to end the night.
Of course, I am already thinking of how I might improve upon the recipe for next time. The bottom of the pizza was nice and charred and crunchy, but actually it was crunchy throughout, without any springiness. Maybe I poked too many holes in the dough and let too much air out. Next time I will try putting all the ingredients on before the pizza goes in the oven and just cooking it all together for 10 minutes.
1 packet (1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
2 tbsp honey
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup tomato sauce (half can of Muir Glen tomato sauce)
3 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 onion, diced
About 8 leftover small meatballs, cut into pieces
1/2 ball fresh mozzerella
In a bowl, dissolve yeast and honey in warm water and let it stand for approximately five minutes, until it is nice and bubbly like the photo below.
Add the flour and salt to the bowl and stir until ingredients begin to form a dough. Place dough on a floured surface and knead for 6 to 8 minutes, until dough feels nice and elastic, adding extra sprinklings of flour as needed when the dough gets too sticky.
Place dough in an oiled bowl, turn it over once to coat in oil, and cover it with a dish towel. Let it rise in a warm place, (ideally 85 degrees), away from drafts for 45 minutes, until dough has doubled in size. Because my apartment is cold lately, I turned my oven on and placed the bowl on top of the oven to create a warm environment for the yeast.
About 20 minutes into letting the dough rise, place a rimless baking sheet on the lowest level of the oven, and preheat to 550, or as high as your oven will go.
Once dough has doubled, punch it down and let it rest a few minutes. Place it on a floured surface and roll it out thin with a floured rolling pin. You don't have to roll it into a perfect circle. I tried, but it turned out more rectangular, and I think next time I will just go straight for a rectange. Crimp the edges to create a crust, and feel free to make your crust as big as you would like - I wish I had made mine bigger. Poke small holes throughout the crust to keep too many bubbles from forming, shown below. Spray surface of dough with olive oil cooking spray.
Remove preheated baking sheet from oven, sprinkle with cornmeal, and carefully slide dough onto the sheet. Bake for approximately 5 minutes, until dough begins to get crusty.
Remove baking sheet fom oven. Spoon tomato sauce over the pizza. Place half the mozzerella on top, then scatter all other ingredients over it, and then place the rest of the cheese on it. Grate 1/4 cup parmesan over the top. Finally, season with salt, pepper, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper, or other spices as desired.
Place pizza back in oven and bake until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown, approximately another 7 minutes. Cut into squares and dig in. One pizza is plenty for two people, especially because you get to enjoy the leftovers later. I think I might make my next dinner party a pizza party!