Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ingredient of the Day: Calabrese Sausage

Profits, like sausages... are esteemed most by those who know least about what goes into them. – Alvin Toffler 

An Italian sausage shop. Don't know how I feel about their "mascot"...
Photo: fxp, Flickr ccl

I apologize for the lack of a full on shot of only calabrese sausage. I didn’t take a picture of the sliced sausage i purchased for my recipe. I thought “how difficult would it be to find a free-use Flickr or Wiki shot?”

Difficult, it would seem. There isn't even an entry about it on Wikipedia. So I opted for a sausage shop in Italy. Close enough for government work (so the saying goes...).

Before rising.
Calabrese sausage is a very spicy, dried sausage from the south of Italy. You may be more familiar with Genoa salami, a sausage that comes both mild and spicy. Not so with calabrese. It is on fire.

Calabrese sausage is made from pork with healthy doses of paprika, garlic, cayenne and fennel. The meat is then stuffed into casings, cold smoked for days and then air dried for several weeks thereafter.

The result is a wonderful sausage that is ideal for pizza, or sliced for antipasti and served with a mild creamy cheese. It’s good stuff, albeit a little on the expensive side.

It is sold in packages, thinly sliced, at the Atlantic Superstore. I find one package makes a healthy-sized (12x18) pizza. You could also split the sausage between two smaller pizzas.

After rising.
We usually make a pizza with Genoa, artichoke hears and provolone, but it’s nice to mix it up every once in a while. If you’re into spicy food, you should give this sausage a try.

My crust for this pizza is a honey crust. It is no harder to make than mixing the stuff together and letting it rise. Do something else while the crust rises, like have a coffee and read a magazine..

One final note: I often use pasta sauce instead of pizza sauce. If you purchase a thick variety it works every bit as well. And then you have the rest of the jar to use with pasta. Use your favourite.

I always have a little pasta sauce that finds its way to the back of the refrigerator. This way it helps use it up. Bonus!

Calabrese Pizza with Honey Crust
Prep: 10 min  |  Rise: 1.5 hrs  |  Bake: 30-40 min
1 tbsp honey
1 cup water
1-1/4 tsp yeast
2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
16 pitted black olives, chopped
1 cup pizza sauce
300g calabrese sausage, chopped
250 g mozzarella, cubed
2 tsp dried oregano (or 2 tbsp fresh)

Proof the yeast with the honey and water until creamy, about 15 minutes.

Mix in the flour and salt to a cohesive mass. It will not be smooth. If anything it reminded me of a Kraft pizza crust. (Rather wet...) No need to knead.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled. At the end of the time the crust will be airy and “spider-webby.” This is fine. Punch it down.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly oil a 12” x 18” baking sheet and press the crust out into the pan. It will be sticky. Let it rest while you pre-cook the toppings.

Heat the olive oil in a wide sauté or frying pan. Sauté the onions, peppers and black olives until softened.

To assemble the pizza, spread the sauce on top of the dough; then the onion/pepper mixture. Add the salami, that has been chopped into bite-sized pieces. Dot the top with the cheese cubes and then sprinkle with the oregano.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the crust is crispy and golden. Let cool for a minute or two. It is very hot.

This isn't a big puffy pizza crust, but more than adequate for the purpose!


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