The time had arrived to topple another food challenge from my 101 things list: Stuffed Pizza. I think stuffed pizza has a sort of mystique. That might be because it’s different than your average pizza–not every restaurant does it. And those that do seem to have a long wait for tables and for baking. Lefty’s Chicago Pizzeria here in San Diego does a great job. Our first trip there we called ahead for pick-up since the pizza takes an hour to cook. We got a large Monster of the Midway, which fed the two of us for a few days. You have one slice and you’re stuffed! Much different than thin-crust pizzas, where you can eat half a pizza and still crave more.
Anyway my stuffed pizza began with the James McNair Pizza book recipe, which I’ve used before for standard pizza. For stuffing I went with our favorites to give a great chance for success: Italian sausage, roasted garlic, jalapenos, onion, bell pepper, and pepperoni. I didn’t put any sauce in — just canned diced tomatoes, drained and tossed with salt and Italian herbs. For cheese I used whole milk mozzarella.
I used a springform pan for the pizza, oiled it up, and put the dough in. About 2/3 of the dough was used for the bottom crust, bringing it most of the way up the sides. Inside went the cheese, toppings, tomatoes, and more cheese. After putting the top dough on, I pinched the dough together to seal, sliced the top to let air escape, and brushed the top with olive oil (reserved from the roasted garlic).
It took about 40 minutes total to bake, starting out at 475 and then lowering when the crust browned quickly. The crust sealing came undone in some places, but not fatally so. Getting the pie out of the pan was easy thanks to all that olive oil.
After letting it sit for a few minutes, I cut it using a chef’s knife. The crust was a little tough, so that made cutting difficult. But it tasted awesome, and the flavors blended together perfectly. The parmesan cheese didn’t stick on top very well, so next time I may try the variation that puts the tomatoes on top of the whole pie.
Is there a better companion for stuffed pizza than beer? How about cheap lagers from the UK, ex-UK, and Italy? That’s right, it was also time for another round of my world beer challenge! I had high hopes for Harp and low expectations for Fosters (Australian for “beer”), but blind tasting waved its magic wand yet again.
Peroni was just plain disgusting, so that was dead last. All the others were pretty good! Steinlager had a rich flavor, but some unwelcome bitterness. Herp, Moretti, and Fosters were all pretty close, but in the end here were the results:
- Fosters – Australia
- Birra Moretti – Italy
- Harp – Ireland
- Steinlager – New Zealand
- Peroni – Italy
In a surprise move, Fosters takes the win and moves on to the final round! Only two groups are left to go: Asia and Germany.