Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Joy of Cooking (Cheeseburger) Pizza

As a kid, I thought there were only a limited number of things that you should put on a pizza. Things like pepperoni, Italian sausage, peppers, olives, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, cheese, and the like. You know. All the things you can order at any local pizza chain. As an adult, I put away childish things (except for acting childish once in a while) and learned that there is so much more out there in pizza land. Chicken, artichoke hearts, fresh herbs, eggs, broccoli, spinach … well, I'll skip the spinach, but you get the idea.

Let's face it. Pizza is basically flat bread with edible stuff on it. Why limit ourselves to just a few ingredient combinations? And don't think that cheese and sauce are sacred. Not all pizza has cheese. Early Italian pizza was just sauce baked flat bread with tomato sauce. American's added the cheesy bits. Not all pizzas have sauce, either. Some just pile the other ingredients on. I'm not suggesting we treat pizza like herbed foccacia with a few olives dotted on it (although we could). Let's just broaden our horizons a little.

A few months ago I got this weird idea of turning various classic salads and sandwiches into pizza. I've since learned there are a few chefs already doing that, but more than one person can have a good idea so, I'm not going to apologize.

What about a cheeseburger pizza? That's a classic American sandwich. I fooled around, making a couple different ways, and they were pretty good. I have no idea what the actual ingredient amounts were. I was winging it. The listed ingredient amounts are guesses. Just don't put on too much of any one thing. When it comes to pizza, piling too much stuff on doesn't make it better.

When I make cheeseburgers, I use sharp cheddar. Because cheddar can get greasy when it melts, which is fine when it drips off the burger, but not so fine on a pizza, I opted for a combination of mozzarella, colby, and Monterey jack.

pizza dough
1 Tbl vegetable oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 half pound ground beef
3 Tbl cup tomato sauce
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
3 Tbl dill pickle relish
1 half tomato, diced
2 cups colby jack cheese (or a bit of colby and Monterey jack), grated
1 leaf romaine lettuce, torn into 2 inch pieces
1 ½ Tbl catsup
salt and pepper

Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat, until shimmering. Add half of the onion, setting the rest aside, and a dash of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened. Add the ground beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, and cook until no longer pink. Stir in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds more, until fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, Fahrenheit.

Roll out the pizza dough onto a pizza pan, baking sheet, or whatever you use for pizza, and let it rest while you get everything else ready.

Mix the tomato sauce and mayonnaise together, about 3 parts mayo to 1 part tomato sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Better yet, use my fry sauce recipe. Spread the sauce in a thin layer over the pizza dough. This is the “secret sauce” part of the burger.

Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese evenly over the sauce. Next, sprinkle the ground beef/onion mixture, chopped tomato and the remaining chopped onion. Lastly, sprinkle on the colby jack cheese.

Bake in the oven for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the dough is cooked through and the cheese is melted and toasty. Rotate the pan halfway through, to ensure even cooking. Remove from the oven.

Squeeze most of the liquid from the pickle relish, and dot all over the pizza. Decoratively squeeze catsup in thin lines, next (I used a crosshatch pattern). Finally, spread the lettuce pieces over the pizza. Slice and serve.

Please don't consider my recipe gospel. Add various herbs and spices to the meat mixture. Hold the pickles; hold the lettuce. Use mustard. Blue cheese, would be a great substitution for the, colby-jack mixture. The point is to have tasty, tasty, pizza fun.

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