Oktoberfest in Germany begins Saturday, September 22, 2012, and ends Sunday, October 7, 2012...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Meatball Pizza with Olive Tapenade

Hi!   My carnivore sweetie pie is in meatball heaven tonight.   Check out this pretty Meatball Pizza, with an olive tapenade hidden beneath the cheese ...

You can prep for this yummy pizza earlier in the day or even the day before.   The dough rises in a little over an hour, and then bakes off in a 450 degrees F. oven on a screaming hot pizza stone.   The house fills with the aroma of spicy meat and yeasty crust with a light blanket of cheese bubbling on top. 

If you would like to give this one a try you will need ....

For the Pizza Dough:
2  teaspoons fast acting dry yeast 
1 ½ teaspoon honey
1 cup luke-warm water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 ½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon olive oil, plus more for coating bowl

For the Meatballs:
½  pound Mild Italian Sausage (I use Johnsonville)
½  pound lean ground beef
½  cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 egg lightly beaten

For the Tomato Sauce:
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced or pressed
1 teaspoon salt
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
½ teaspoon honey
Fresh Grated pepper to taste
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ tablespoon olive oil
Just a pinch of red pepper flakes, **optional**

For the Olive Tapenade:
1/3 cup finely chopped black olives
¼ cup finely chopped green Spanish olives
1 Tablespoon small capers
¼ cup finely chopped onions

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

About 2 Tablespoons cornmeal for the pizza peel


Sauce:   I find it most expedient to make the sauce (or you can just use jarred sauce) earlier in the day and just set it aside and then refrigerate when thoroughly cooled.   To make the sauce just add all of the ingredients to a medium sized sauce pan, stirring and cooking on medium high until the sauce begins to bubble (do not put the lid on or steam will continue to water the sauce).   Then, turn the heat back to low and continue to cook and stir until the sauce thickens - about 5 minutes.    Then, remove from heat and allow to cool with the lid off.

Olive Tapenade:  Most Tapenades are nearly pureed.   Mine is not.  I chop the olives, and onions very fine.  Then add the capers, onions and olives to a small bowl and mix well.   Cover with plastic and refrigerate until used.

Pizza Dough:  Start off by making the yeast sponge.   Do this by adding one cup of water to a two cup non-reactive container.   The water should be luke-warm.  To the water add the honey and stir with a non-reactive spoon.   Then, top the water/honey solution with the yeast and stir (with the same non-reactive spoon).   Set aside for about 15 minutes for the yeast to proof.

Meanwhile, to the bowl of a food processor add the flours, garlic powder and salt.   Run on low for a few seconds to mix and aerate.

Now, if the water/yeast solution is very foamy on the top you know the yeast is alive and reacting.   Pour it over the top of the flour mixture in the food processor along with the olive oil.  

Then, run on medium-high until a dough ball forms and cleans the sides of the bowl.

Now, turn the dough out onto a flour coated surface and knead - adding more flour as needed just until you have a nice ball.

Then place dough ball into an oiled bowl and turn it over a few times to coat with oil.   Cover, and allow to rest and rise until doubled in size - about an hour or a bit more.

Meatballs:   While the dough is rising,  to a large bowl add the meat, bread crumbs and egg.  Then, using your hands mix until well combined.  Hand mixing really is the best way to get a good blend.

Then, form 2-inch meatballs and one batch at a time, place in a hot oiled fry pan and brown on all sides.   When just browned, remove and start the next batch.

Place the browned meatballs on a broiler pan and then finish cooking them in a 350 degrees F pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes.

Check center to confirm the cooking is complete.

I doubled my recipe to make extra meatballs for tomorrow's spaghetti dinner.   If you are going to all this work, you might as well make extra, right?   Okay, so if the meatballs are done, place on a plate and slice the ones you will be using for your pizza in half - about 8.    Set aside.

Pizza:   Okay, if the dough has doubled in size, punch down and knead again.   Then roll dough into a ball and then flatten it.   Allow it to rest for about 10 minutes.

Now, lightly oil a pizza stone and then wipe the oil off.   Excess oil will cause the stone to smoke.   The film left behind from the wipe off will be sufficient.   Place the stone in the oven and set it to 450 degrees F.   You want the stone hot when you slide the pizza onto it.   The oven should be thoroughly pre-heated.

Okay, back to the dough.   While the oven is heating,  roll the dough out to a 12-inch round.    You may have to roll, shape and repeat resting the dough in between each roll.   Make sure you are working the dough over plenty of flour so it does not stick.    When the dough circle is right, transfer it to a pizza peel that is well coated with cornmeal.  (I use a round baking tin since I still do not own a wood pizza peel.  Anything that will allow you to transfer the pizza easily to the hot pizza stone will do.)

Now, roll each meatball half in the pizza sauce to coat it top and bottom.

Then, starting in the middle and then working outward, spread the pizza sauce leaving the one inch outer edge bare of sauce.

Next, place the meatball halves on the pizza, followed by the olive mixture.

Then sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese over the top.

Carefully transfer the pizza from the peel to the hot pizza stone.

Bake until crust is crisp and the cheese is bubbly, about 15 minutes.   If the cheese is getting too dark before the crust is done, tent with foil.

When the pizza is done, remove with the stone.  Transfer the pizza to a cutting board.

Top pizza with the fresh minced parsley, and set out the Parmigiano cheese for topping individual servings.


Note:   If you have any ingredients left over - like meatballs and olive mixture,  use them in a Spaghetti meal the next day.