Comfort Food


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The cooler weather had me craving pasta. So, I put together a new twist on an old favorite–vodka sauce. Rather than just roasted tomatoes for the sauce, I added a pepper, a handful of mushrooms and some sweet onion.

When I’m making a special sauce, I love to head up to DiFiore Ravioli Shop for fresh pasta. Now that they’re in Rocky Hill as well as Hartford, they’re even closer to home. For my new recipe, I tried their fresh black pepper fettucine.

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The black pepper bite adds an extra kick to a dish that’s already kickin’. Enough talk–let’s get this recipe into action!

ROASTED VEGETABLE VODKA SAUCE WITH HOT CHICKEN SAUSAGE

For the vegetables
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 small bell pepper*
1/2 a sweet onion, sliced and halved
4 mushrooms (I chose cremini a.k.a. baby bella–whatever little shrooms you like)
2-3 garlic cloves
olive oil to coat the bottom of your baking dish
1 teaspoon kosher salt

*I found the world’s most adorable pepper at Price Chopper yesterday–the Enjoya (why yes, thank you, I will) striped pepper.

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For the vodka sauce
1/2 pound hot chicken sausage, cooked/crumbled
1/3 cup vodka
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
zest of 1 lemon
juice of half the lemon

First, roast the vegetables!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Drizzle olive oil to coat 9 x 13″ baking dish. Toss all the vegetables in the olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Gently smash the garlic cloves with the side of your knife–or use a garlic press–and add to baking dish. Make sure everything’s in an even layer.

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Let ‘em roast for 10 minutes, give ’em a shake, then 15 more minutes of roasting and it’s time to take them out of the oven.

Add 1/3 cup vodka directly to the hot roasting pan. You’ll hear it sizzle. Squeeze half the lemon and add the zest. Now, very carefully, use a potato masher to give the tomatoes a gentle squeeze right in the baking dish. Take it easy so they don’t squirt you.

While the tomatoes are roasting…
Now’s a good time to get a BIG pasta pot boiling so you can cook up the pasta. Fresh pasta cooks in about three minutes. If you use boxed pasta, just remember to allow more time for it to cook. For two people, I cooked just a half pound of pasta, but there’s definitely enough sauce for one or two more servings, depending how hungry you are.

Coat a large saute pan with olive oil and cook the sausage—squeeze it from the casings and break into small pieces. Once you’ve completely cooked and crumbled the sausage, keep the pan on a low heat, just to simmer. Add the tomatoes, garlic and all the liquid from the baking dish to the sausage. Then add the cream. As it all simmers, the sauce will thicken just a bit.

Spoon over pasta; garnish with fresh parsley and serve with pecorino Romano at the table. Why go out for pasta when you can create your own deliciousness right at home?

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Looking for some comfort on a cold winter’s day? Well, if a creamy, cheesy mac with mushrooms is what you seek, you’ve come to the right place.

With cheddar, Gouda and Gruyère, and three different mushrooms: cremini, oyster and shiitake, topped with plenty of toasty, cheesy breadcrumbs, it’s a warm and hearty combo. Inspired by something I saw Giada do, but made absolutely, purr-fectly my way in Katty’s Kitchen.

MUSHROOM MAC ‘N CHEESE

For the topping
½ cup panko
½ cup shredded cheese (take from the 3½ cups you’ll shred below for the cheese sauce)

Combine and set aside.
When it’s time to add to the top of the casserole, spread them evenly, then add a drizzle of truffle oil.

For the pasta
½ pound double elbows (Sclafani bouble elbows–my favorite goofy typo)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add elbows. Undercook by just a minute–they’ll continue to cook in the oven. Now is a good time to preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

For the mushrooms
2-3 tablespoons butter
1 shallot
5 oz. or so of a combination of mushrooms: oyster, cremini
¼ teaspoon salt

In a large frying pan, melt butter over medium heat; add shallot, mushrooms and salt. Cook about 5-6 minutes till mushrooms soften.
Transfer cooked mushrooms to a small plate; drizzle with truffle oil.

For the cheese sauce
3 tablespoons butter
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk at room temperature
10 oz. shredded cheese (3½ cups total): combination of cheddar, Gouda and Gruyère
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼-½ teaspoon salt
fresh black pepper

Melt butter, add the flour. Cook over medium-low heat about two minutes, stirring with a whisk. Slowly whisk in milk. Bring to a simmer, continue to whisk so it doesn’t stick. Simmer about 4-5 minutes to thicken, then add 3 cups shredded cheese. Whisk till fully incorporated. Add ¼ teaspoon nutmeg and ¼-½ teaspoon salt.

Combine pasta, mushrooms and cheese sauce. Pour into 9” baking dish. Top with panko/shredded cheese mixture. Drizzle with truffle oil. Bake 25-30 minutes at 375 degrees F.

Dinner is served! Enjoy a little country comfort and stay toasty, amici!

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Let’s go back to the 70s and 80s with a light and fruity summer treat–perfect to eat when you wanna beat the heat. Too many of us forgot about this delightful fruit mousse-like thinG, so let’s revive it right now. It’s so easy to make and reminds me of times when life was more carefree.

Keep it sweet and simple with just yogurt and Cool Whip, or add fresh fruit. And, if you do add berries, save some for the top to give your pie a grin, because who can resist a smiling dessert? 🙂

The most challenging part of this pie is finding French or custard-style yogurt–not fruit on the bottom, not Greek. Stonyfield’s Smooth & Creamy Organic is an excellent choice. Here in central Connecticut, I was thrilled to find it at West Side Marketplace in Rocky Hill. Stonyfield Organic makes all great things dairy, including my favorite milk and cream. If you can’t find Stonyfield, Yoplait Thick & Creamy is another good option.

COOL ‘N CREAMY SUMMER SMILIN’ BERRY PIE

1 8 oz. container of Cool Whip, thawed
2 6-oz. containers French or custard-style yogurt (try Stonyfield Smooth & Creamy or Yoplait Thick & Creamy): how about strawberry or strawberry banana?
6 oz. fresh raspberries (optional)
1 graham cracker crust (I like Honey Maid)

If you’re using them, set aside the most perfect berries for your smile–or whatever design you’d like to make.

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Fold yogurt into thawed Cool Whip till combined. Now, if you’ll excuse my technical term, smoosh the remaining raspberries into the side of your bowl with a spoon and stir them in, too.

Smooth evenly into graham cracker crust. Decorate top of pie as you like.

Put the pie in the freezer for about two hours so it sets and holds its shape when you slice it. Store remaining pie in the fridge.

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Sending you a cool Strawberry Letter of summer enjoyment straight from my childhood. ♫ Feel sunshine sparkle pink and blue, playgrounds will laugh if you try to ask: Is it cool? Is it cool? ♫ Oh, yes, it is!

brown sugar pork chops with salt lick baked potatoes

Some of my favorite dishes shouldn’t qualify as recipes as they’re so easy–so here are two for the price of one. They go quite nicely together. And they’re a quick and delicious meal to make during the week when you’re short on time.

BROWN SUGAR PORK CHOPS with SALT LICK BAKED POTATOES

For the chops
2 pork chops (ours were somewhere between 1/2″ and 3/4″ thick)
Penzeys Barbecue of the Americas
light brown sugar
salt
olive oil

For the potatoes
2 russet potatoes, scrubbed
Kosher salt
butter at room temperature
sour cream (if you wish and I do!)
finely chopped scallions or chives (why not?)

Prep the potatoes first!
Preheat your oven to 475 degrees F. Scrub the potatoes, poke ’em with a fork all the way around.

While the potatoes are still wet, rub them with Kosher salt. Once the oven is up to temp, bake them for an hour and fifteen minutes (1:15). You can put them right on the oven rack, but if you prefer not to get salt all over your oven, simply set them in a pan.

Now would be a lovely time to make a salad or a tasty vegetable to go with. 🙂 But before you start, get the pork ready.

Pork chop prep
Sprinkle each side of both chops with Barbecue of the Americas and a bit of salt. Yes, the spice blend itself does contain salt, but you won’t go wrong with a bit more. Then take a good handful of light brown sugar and coat both sides. Press the sugar into the meat and let the chops come up to room temperature. They’ll take less than 10 minutes to cook–so think about kicking ’em off once your potatoes hit the hour mark.

When it’s time to cook the chops, coat a nonstick pan with olive oil and set it over medium heat. When the oil is heated and sizzles when the pork hits the pan, set a timer. It’ll only take about 3-4 minutes on each side–at least on my stove.

Et voilà–since you timed it right, it’s time for dinner! Grab those potatoes, be generous with the butter and sour cream and enjoy!

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One of my favorite things to do with strata is to add Ore-Ida Crispy Crowns to the mix. Because, while bread is good, half bread and half badadas is truly a beautiful thing.

I finally got around to writing it all down to share with you. Remember, you can easily include other meats or veggies, so consider this a jump-off point for your own strata-fication! 🙂

KATTY’S ITALIAN-AMERICAN STRATA

8 eggs
1 3/4 cups milk
¼ cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded cheddar
1 1/2 cups of your favorite bread, cubed (I used sourdough)
2 1/2 cups Ore Ida Crispy Crowns, baked according to package instructions
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons Penzey’s Sunny Paris seasoning
1 small bunch broccoli
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
3/4 – 1 pound breakfast sausage, cooked and cut into small pieces
1/2 a large sweet onion, chopped

Beat eggs, milk and cream in L A R G E bowl. Add shredded cheddar, Sunny Paris, salt and pepper. Stir bread cubes into egg mixture. This part of the recipe should hang out in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight.

When you’re ready to complete the recipe, steam the broccoli for approximately 2 minutes, then set aside.

This is also a good time to turn on the oven to the right temperature to cook the Crispy Crowns. Getting them crispy ahead of time makes them nice-nice in the strata. Get those going and then we can put it all together. But drop the temp back down to 350 degrees F when you’re ready to bake your strata, OK?

In a large pan, cook your breakfast sausages. I had links–if you have bulk sausage, just break it up as it cooks. Drain on paper towels, saving just a bit of the fat so you can add the onion back to the pan and cook it in the drippings. As the onions are cooking, add the red peppers. Cook till the onions are almost golden, then set it all aside to cool.

Cut the sausages into small pieces. Stir onions, peppers, broccoli and sausage into eggs.

Once the Crispy Crowns have cooked, place half of them in rows, four by four (so 16, total on the bottom of the pan), so each cut square should get one. You’ll use the rest for the top of the strata.

Pour ingredients into a buttered 9″ square baking dish. Then, evenly place the remaining Crispy Crowns over the top. I had enough to fill a 9″ square as well as a little mini-heart dish.

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Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 50 minutes or till top is lightly golden and eggs are set. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

hash 3

Ever notice it’s hard to find good corned beef hash out? Me, too. Sometimes, when you crave one of your favorite things, it’s best to start in your own kitchen. So, today, I made my own. It’s less of a recipe, more of a concept, so let’s go through the steps together.

CORNED BEEF HASH/EGG IN A HASH HOLE

Everything you chop should be about the same size–the badadas, pepper, onions and corned beef.
2 good-sized red potatoes, skins on, cut into cubes
1 red pepper (I used half red, half orange), chopped
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
about 3/4 pound corned beef (ask for a thick slice at the deli), cut into cubes
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Cook the potatoes in salted water till tender. You can do this a day before to save time on hash day.

Next, chop, chop, chop. The corned beef, too.

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Melt butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add peppers and onion.

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Cook about 5-7 minutes till onions are golden and beginning to lightly brown.

Add potatoes and stir. They should begin to brown in 5-7 minutes. At that point, stir in two tablespoons of heavy cream to form a nice crispy crust.

I’m just cooking for me today, so I transferred my portion of hash to a smaller pan, made an indentation, cracked an egg in and covered, cooking on low for about 5 minutes.

You could make several hash holes in the larger pan if you have company.

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And there you have it. Egg in a hash hole. Don’t like eggs? Hash stands just fine on its own and is a meal unto itself. Enjoy!

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If you’re like me, your knowledge of chicken paprikash may be limited to that scene in “When Harry Met Sally.” Waiter! There is too much pepper on my paprikash! If so, also like me, you’ve been missing out. But, have no fear, we can make up for lost time and deliciousness.

Fast forward 25 years to last month, when one of my friends shared a recipe for this dish. It sounded so good, I wanted to give it a try with some of my own twists. Here’s a little disclaimer: I’m not Hungarian, I’ve never eaten this dish before and can’t tell you how authentic it is. In fact, I believe the original dish calls for chicken thighs rather than breasts. But, that’s the beauty of making something your own–you can do exactly as you wish. I can tell you it’s quite delish and I’ll be making it again during the season of my discontent (a.k.a. winter).

CHICKEN PAPRIKASH

½ pound egg noodles

Butter and olive oil to coat the bottom of a pan
1-1.25 pounds chicken breast, cut into hearty chunks
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons Hungarian sweet paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
freshly ground black pepper
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 garlic clove, pressed
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1½ teaspoons tomato paste
1/2 cup sour cream
fresh chopped parsley

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper and salt. Add chicken and toss to coat.

Add olive oil and butter to a pan over medium-high heat.

Add chicken and any remaining seasoned flour to pan. Brown chicken on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a dish.

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PSSST! Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Soon, it will be time to cook the egg noodles.

But, for now, back to the pan where the chicken was cooking. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add onion and cook till golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, red pepper and sliced mushrooms. Cook 5 minutes more.

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Then add wine, chicken stock and tomato paste.

Time to cook the noodles! Like magic, watch how the timing comes together perfectly.

Return the chicken to the pan and cover. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 7-10 minutes. This is about the time it will take to cook the noodles. For the last few minutes of the chicken part of the program, reduce heat to the lowest setting, add sour cream and parsley, heat through—about 1-2 minutes.

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Serve with noodles. Enjoy the living daylights out of this dish. We did!

And, on an optimistic note, tomorrow is the winter solstice. Brighter days are ahead, amici!
Midnight has come. I hear music and I’ll keep on singing. 

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Twenty years ago, I tried beer cheese soup for the first time at the 391st Bomb Group in West Palm Beach, Florida. Since then, I’ve tried it other places. But there’s something about the original I wanted to try to replicate.

Fast forward fifteen years, I thought I’d found the recipe in an old article from the Sun Sentinel. But all I could see was another fan looking for the recipe. I posted the link on a food site I frequent and said if anyone did have the original recipe, I’d be grateful to have it.

Four years later, someone responded to my inquiry and let me know the recipe was right there in the article–on a second page I hadn’t seen. Whattafind! I felt a bit like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.

You've always had the power

So with this week’s cooler temperatures, I strolled Memory Lane and made the soup. I was about to follow the original recipe to the letter till I realized the chicken bouillon had MSG. I would try it again with non-MSG bouillon, but what I riffed was really excellent! It’s a little hotter and has that extra something coarse ground mustard can bring to a creamy soup like this. Here’s what I did.

BEER CHEESE SOUP
adapted from the 391st Bomb Group’s original recipe

4 slices bacon, diced
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
4 cups whole milk
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Tabasco Frank’s Red Hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon sriracha
1 tablespoon coarse ground mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 pound Velveeta cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
16 ounces light beer poured into a 2-cup measure to eliminate some of the foam (I used Coors, a.k.a. Colorado Kool-Aid)

In a skillet, cook the bacon and onions over medium heat, stirring, about 5-10 minutes or until the bacon is crisp and the onions are soft and lightly browned. Set aside.

I didn’t use a double boiler or a thermometer as indicated in the original recipe. Cubed Velveeta magically melts into warm liquid like nobody’s business. So, into a large stockpot on medium heat, add 4 cups milk, 2 cups chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, Frank’s Red Hot, cayenne, mustard, sriracha, Velveeta and the bacon and onions. At this point, you can add just one cup of the beer. Set the rest of the beer aside.

Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch into the remaining 1 cup beer. When the cheese has completely melted into the liquid, stir the beer/cornstarch mixture. Whisk and cook until the contents thicken.

Next, strain out the bacon and onions. Garnish with parsley, chives, paprika or popcorn. I topped mine with (new to me) Buffalo Cheddar Smartfood. Laugh if you must, but try it first. I think the soup tasted even better the next day.

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While we’re hanging out on Memory Lane, here is 20-something me outside the 391st Bomb Group. Cheers and enjoy your soup!

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Have you ever had the Silano pizza at Bertucci’s–the one with broccoli and chicken in a lemon cream sauce? I haven’t had it in years, but always loved it. Now that I feel comfortable making traditional pizza and scacciata, I wanted to try something different and springy. It’s really not difficult, it just takes a few steps–and you can spread them out throughout a Sunday to make it seem even easier.

Here’s a link to the dough. I recommend making it a day or two before and letting it do its thing in the fridge.

Let’s start with the lemon cream sauce on your actual pizza-making day. Make ahead earlier on and refrigerate it till it’s time to use if you like.

LEMON CREAM SAUCE FOR PIZZA

1 tablespoon butter
1 lemon, zested and juiced (I got just over 1/3 cup lemon juice from one lemon)
Dry white wine (I use Chardonnay)—add enough to the lemon juice so you have just over ½ cup between the lemon juice and wine
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1½ teaspoons corn starch
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. As the butter melts, add the grated lemon zest; stir it around about a minute as it sizzles. Pour in the lemon juice/white wine, add salt, stir and bring the liquids to a simmer. Cover the skillet, and let simmer just a couple of minutes.

Remove the lid, slowly whisk in the cream and add corn starch. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, about 2 to 3 minutes you have a thick, creamy sauce. Remove from heat, add nutmeg (if you like) and freshly ground black pepper. If you do refrigerate, you’ll want to warm it up a bit in the microwave so it’s easy to spread over the pie. I used my handy silicone pastry brush to apply super-simply. 🙂

FOR THE CHICKEN
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

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I used just under 10 oz. (generous ½ pound) of chicken breast
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Rosemary
Penzey’s California Seasoned Pepper

Cut the pieces as evenly as possible, cook at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes. This should leave some of the chicken a bit pink so it’ll finish cooking on top of the pizza instead of drying out.

Slice the chicken to top the pizza.

FOR THE PIZZA TOPPING
About a pound or so of broccoli, cut in pieces–steam for just 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat
Fresh mozzarella (8 oz.), sliced so you can place discs evenly over the top of the pie
3 tablespoons Pecorino Romano
3-4 cloves of garlic, pressed
drizzle olive oil over top of pie

Generously oil a sheet pan.
Press/shape pizza dough into a pan forming a large rectangle or oval–whatever shape begins to form as you even out the dough. Mine is a little of each, HA HA!
Brush lemon sauce over crust.

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Add broccoli and chicken.
Brush remaining lemon sauce over top, then add fresh mozz, pecorino and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil.

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I baked for just 15 minutes on top of my pizza stone (permanently residing at the bottom of my oven) at 450 degrees F. Take a look at the 15-minute mark to see if yours is ready, too. If not, you may need anywhere up to 5 more minutes–just depends how thin you’re able to press out the dough. I let mine come to room temperature about 30 minutes before I got started, and I think that helped.

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Et voilà! Springtime is served. Care for a slice?

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This past Friday, my childhood friend Andrea posted a challenge:
“Only people that I grew up with will understand this, but somebody needs to post a decent recipe for two Sicilian foods that I love (and crave) (1) Sciaccata (2) Marinos Pizza with meat sauce. Katty’s Kitchen If anybody can do this…you can!!!”

Andrea had suggested it when I started making pizza, but to be honest, I wasn’t sure how to pull it off. I mean, pizza is pretty straightforward, but it’s a little more complicated to make something with a top and a bottom. At least, I thought would be. Most of all, since scacciata is a specialty of my hometown, I needed to make the most excellent one I could. Right, no pressure there! 😉

Wait a minute. If you didn’t grow up in Middletown, Connecticut, you may not even know what I’m talking about. I never realized the double-crusted, stuffed pizza-like creation I grew up with was unique to my town. You see, my hometown is the sister city of Melilli, Sicily. While others might not be familiar with scacciata, we natives took it on faith it would always be available here. Growing up, that meant a trip downtown to Marino’s Bakery on Ferry Street in the North End. And, as years went by, it also meant D&S over in the plaza off of South Main Street, where Taino Smokehouse is now.

If memory serves, we lost Marino’s sometime in the 90s. Then about 10 years ago, when I moved to the D&S side of town, D&S closed, too. Are you kidding? Where would we get the scacciata now? It served so many delicious purposes. Night before a holiday? Just plain hungry for something good? Gotta get scacciata. Broccoli was always a favorite; spinach a close second. Of course, there’s potato, too. You could even combine the three, depending where you went. And, if you had Sicilian grandparents or parents, they likely made their own variation right at home.

For the longest time, I’ve wanted to learn to make scacciata. I had even found an adopted nonna to teach me–our friend Mary Ann’s mom, Cora. But sadly, it never came to be. Until now!

Let’s break it down in three steps.

BROCCOLI SCACCIATA

First, the dough.
Same recipe as for pizza, just times two. So here, I’ll double the dough for you:

1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups warm water (not hot)
3 cups (16 1/2 ounces) bread flour – I use King Arthur
4 1/2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

In the bowl of your stand mixer, dissolve the brown sugar in the warm water. While the water is still warm, add the yeast. Wait about 15 minutes to see the yeast start to activate.

Using the dough hook, add the olive oil and remaining dry ingredients and slowly start to mix. After the dry ingredients are wet, raise the speed and mix until a nice, smooth ball forms, about 15 -20 minutes with a Kitchen Aid mixer. Keeping the speed just below medium should prevent your mixer from taking a little walk across the counter! Now you should have a dough ball–coat it with olive oil, place in a large enough bowl to allow the dough to rise and refrigerate at least three hours. Overnight is better, or you can even let it age for a few days. I made my dough Friday night for scacciata on Sunday.

The dough looked like this when I took it off the hook on Friday. I almost thought I had kinda gone overboard with the size of the bowl I chose.

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But look how it grew overnight!

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Second, the broccoli and sausage filling.

Just under 2 pounds of broccoli, chopped–to yield 6 heaping cups of trees (yes, broccoli)
1 sweet onion, shredded
4-5 cloves of garlic, pressed
Olive oil to coat the bottom of a large saute pan
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage (Longhini in New Haven makes my favorite)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil

First, coat the bottom of a large saute pan with olive oil, then saute the shredded sweet onion over medium heat. By the time 15 minutes have passed, the onions should begin to brown a bit and stick to the bottom of the pan a little. No worries, just add the hot sausage and it will all come together. This is a good time to turn on the broccoli, but more about that in a bit. Break the sausage into small pieces as you go. Just when the sausage is cooked about all the way through, set a timer for one minute, throw in the pressed garlic, stir, then remove from heat.

I used my double-decker bamboo steamer baskets to steam the broccoli.

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Once the water begins to boil, let the broccoli steam about 5-7 minutes. It should be bright green and fork-tender when it’s done. Stir broccoli into sausage/onion/garlic mixture, add a teaspoon of crushed red pepper, sun-dried tomatoes and salt. You just made 8 cups of filling! Holy smokes!

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Cover and store in the fridge till you’re ready to make your scacciata. We’re almost there, amici!

Third, let’s put it all together!
Ready? If you have a pizza stone–and, yes, you want one if you don’t have one already–set it on the lowest rack of your oven and let your oven preheat to 425 degrees F for one hour. Let your dough come up to room temperature as the oven preheats.

Don’t forget the cheese, please!
1/2 pound (or a bit more) shredded whole milk mozzarella
3 tablespoons Pecorino Romano

Oil a large rectangular baking sheet. I can’t promise you anything scientific here. Divide the dough in the bowl into two halves. Put one half of the dough on the sheet and begin to flatten it and stretch it as best you can. Flatten and stretch and move and shape and hope for the best. You’re trying to make a rectangle, but guess what? If it’s sort of oblong and rounded, who cares? You just want a flat, even base shape on which to mound all the tasty toppings you made.

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Having the broccoli topping to press down into the dough actually helps spread the dough out a bit. You’ll see.

Next, we add the cheese.

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Looking good, right? Now the part that stressed me most. How to stretch out the other half of the dough in roughly the same shape, then move it to cover what you see above? AYEEEE!

Grab another rectangular pan and coat it with olive oil. Repeat as above: stretch and move and hope and pray and do your best to flatten into a piece of dough you can lift and stretch to form the top half of the scacciata. You can do it!

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WHEW! We got it! Fold up the bottom layer over the top to seal the filling in. See there are a couple of holes on the top? No problem at all.

Now, place your baking sheet directly on top of the pizza stone and bake at 425 degrees F for 25 minutes. Let your masterpiece rest 5 or 10 minutes once you take it out of the oven.

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Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut. Look how nice the bottom crust is, too!

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I’m the happiest girl in M’town now that I can make my own scacciata. In fact, I’m so happy, I could go dance on the railroad bridge as Billy Joel did in this song featuring my hometown. Except it’s dark. And cold. Maybe another day. I can only tell you I made one of my own dreams come true today, and that’s enough for this kat.

As for you? You’ve gotta make this scacciata! Subito! Subito!

P.S. to Mary Ann: Tell Cora I did it! Love you both! ♥

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