Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza

Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza

Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza baked hot and bubbly and garnished with fennel fronds.

Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza

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I say start the new year with pizza! Yes, that’s right, crispy, cheesy, flavour-packed Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza. We can not make just any pizza, it truly needs to be a cast-iron pizza to start the new year right. It creates the best golden and crisp underside that you’ll ever create at home, and you’ll wonder why you haven’t been making all your pizzas this way. Most new year resolutions include some form of healthy eating, but I think the new year (because it’s gonna be great) deserves full-on, carefree, in your face deliciousness. The sausage and fennel combination has not only become my new favourite, cooking it in a cast-iron pan tips it over the edge of my pizza nirvana. So move over plain ol’ pepperoni pizza… grown-up pizza just walked in.

A cast iron skillet full of of ingredients for Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza.
Pizza dough, marinara sauce and fennel ready for Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza.

With the new year upon us, we have no choice but to be hopeful for a more user-friendly year. Even though I can consider 2020 a good year, it hasn’t been without its frustrations, and for many people, it has been a year of hardship and heartache. While we can’t eat cheesy, sausage laden pizza all the time, it’s a good reminder to enjoy a few of the simpler things that we can. It’s also great fun to create homemade pizza at home with loved ones lending a helping hand.

All the best in 2021, let’s eat!

Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza garnished with fennel fronds and cut into slices on a black cutting board.

Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza garnished with fennel fronds and cut into slices on a black cutting board.
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Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza

Course Main Course
Keyword baked, cast iron, cast iron pizza, fennel, garlic, Italian sausage, mozzerella, olive oil, pizza, pizza dough
Cook Time 14 minutes
Resting time 5 minutes
Servings 2 people

Ingredients

  • 8-10 ounces pizza dough homemade or store-bought
  • 8 ounces Italian sausage about 2 links, casing removed
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil divided
  • 1/3 cup marinara sauce homemade or store bought
  • 3 ounces shredded mozzarella about 3/4 cup
  • 1/2 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced plus fronds for garnish
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • red pepper flakes

Instructions

  • Set oven rack to its uppermost position. Preheat oven to 475°F.
  • Drizzle room temperature pizza dough with 1 tbsp olive oil and press out to a 10" round. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.
  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a 10" cast-iron skillet. Add Italian sausage and cook over medium, breaking up any large pieces. Once cooked and slightly crisp remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • With the heat still on medium/low, immediately lay pizza dough in the pan, stretching out to the edges using a spatula or spoon if necessary. Top dough with marinara, then mozzarella, fennel, garlic and sausage. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and check the underside which should be starting to brown and crisp. Transfer pan to oven and bake until bubbling, about 10-14 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then sprinkle with red pepper flakes, and fennel fronds or fresh basil. Lift out of the pan and cut into wedges and serve.

Notes

-The dough will press out better on a wooden surface such as a cutting board as opposed to granite or super-smooth surfaces.
-I prefer a thinner crust and opt for 8 ounces of dough vs 10.  It is 10 ounces pictured in the blog.
-Makes one 10" pizza, however, a 12" cast-iron skillet would work too, just use the 10 ounces of dough.  There's plenty of topping, so there's no need to adjust unless you'd like more cheese.
-The original recipe from Bon Appétit suggests garnishing with fresh basil, however, I enjoy using fresh fennel fronds instead, but it's a matter of preference and both are delicious. 

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Meaty Baked Pasta

Meaty Baked Pasta

Well, baked pasta is far from anything new.  This little version is my own yet very similar to many that are out there.  It’s more of a reminder of how wonderful a baked pasta can be.  There are a few steps involved so I wouldn’t call it the best weeknight meal.  However, Meaty Baked Pasta is just what the family calls for on the weekend.  

With this pasta casserole, you will find a meaty sauce that includes ground beef and Italian sausage, a light and creamy ricotta cheese layer that helps to balance the acid in the tomato sauce.  More sauce hugged pasta with chunks of tomato that is broiled oozy with mozzarella and parmesan.  It’s the kind of dish you know you should stop eating, but just can’t.

It serves many with even a few leftovers.  If planning ahead, you may want to assemble in two casserole dishes, bake one and freeze the other for a later meal when time is not your friend. 

Meaty Baked Pasta is homey, satisfying and best of all cheesy!  It’s not diet friendly, so I won’t pretend that it is.  Everything in moderation, right?  Enjoy!

Meaty Baked Pasta is hot and cheesy from the oven in a blue casserole dish with handles. There is a serving spoon half tucked into the pasta. The dish rests on a cork pot holder that is draped with a white and navy towel. Fresh basil sits in the background.
Meaty Baked Pasta
Print Recipe
    Servings Prep Time
    8-10 people 40 minutes
    Cook Time Passive Time
    40 minutes 5 minutes
    Servings Prep Time
    8-10 people 40 minutes
    Cook Time Passive Time
    40 minutes 5 minutes
    Meaty Baked Pasta is hot and cheesy from the oven in a blue casserole dish with handles. There is a serving spoon half tucked into the pasta. The dish rests on a cork pot holder that is draped with a white and navy towel. Fresh basil sits in the background.
    Meaty Baked Pasta
    Print Recipe
      Servings Prep Time
      8-10 people 40 minutes
      Cook Time Passive Time
      40 minutes 5 minutes
      Servings Prep Time
      8-10 people 40 minutes
      Cook Time Passive Time
      40 minutes 5 minutes
      Ingredients
      Servings: people
      Instructions
      1. Heat olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until starting to soften, stirring often.
      2. Add ground beef and Italian sausage. Cook until browned and no longer pink, breaking apart any large chunks and stirring often. Dab out any excess fat with a paper towel.
      3. To the meat add marinara sauce, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and chili flakes.
      4. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat, cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 20- 25 minutes to meld flavours.
      5. While meat sauce is simmering, cook pasta according to package directions using well-salted water. (about 1 tbsp regular salt to 4 litres of water). Drain pasta and set aside.
      6. Preheat oven to 350℉.
      7. In a small bowl stir together ricotta, half of the mozzarella, half of the parmesan, dried basil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
      8. Lightly spray a 9"x13" casserole dish with non stick spray. Add half the cooked pasta and half of the meat sauce to the casserole dish. Stir to combine. Spread with ricotta cheese mixture.
      9. To the pot with the remaining pasta add remaining meat sauce. Stir to combine and pour over ricotta cheese layer. Top with remaining half of mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
      10. Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes until bubbly. Broil for 2-3 to blister the cheese. Remove and allow to rest 3-5 minutes prior to serving.

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      I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
      Bacon Jam Mozza Burger

      Bacon Jam Mozza Burger

      Did someone say bacon? Yes indeed, and you won’t want to let Father’s Day go by without firing up the grill for this amazing Bacon Jam Mozza Burger. Thick ground beef chuck patties topped with mozzarella and plenty of sweet and smoky bacon jam. Trust me, dad will be happy!

      So let’s talk meat shall we?  Even though the bacon jam in this recipe makes a statement, it’s the beef that’s gonna make or break your burger experience. We’ve all eaten the pre made frozen hamburger patties and we’ve all made hamburgers from regular ground beef, but let me tell you, there’s a better way to go.  

      Ground chuck my friends is the meat of choice for your beef burger.  Specifically, ground  chuck with a 20% fat ratio. This is a highly recommended ratio because it lends to a nice juicy burger without being overly fatty, which isn’t required with ground chuck because you can cook it to your liking of medium, medium rare…..not the well cooked mandatory standard for frozen patties or burgers made from regular ground beef that need to be cooked to a minimum of 160℉ for food safe reasons. Most butcher shops will carry ground chuck or will be super happy to grind it for you.  Even in my small community, where it is hard to find fresh bean sprouts, I was able to source ground chuck at Sylvan Quality Meats.  A simple call ahead landed me several pounds of ground chuck at an 80/20 ratio, neatly packed in 1 pound pouches.   

      So back to the burger….probably the two most significant differences between burgers made with ground beef and those made with ground chuck is flavour and tenderness.  Ground chuck yields a beefier taste and is tender due to the fat ratio and the fact that you can cook it similar to a steak, medium rare, medium etc.  This ability to serve the burger with a little pink in the centre lends to a more tender burger.   You could say beef steak rules apply in this case.  Plus, there’s no filler, additives, or excess salt, just good quality beef with tasty toppings.  What’s not to love about that? Enjoy!

      Recipe source for Bacon Jam Mozza Burger has been inspired by: Epicurious Whiskey Bacon Jam

      Bacon Jam Mozza Burger
      Print Recipe
        Servings Prep Time
        4 people 30 minutes
        Cook Time Passive Time
        60 minutes 3 minutes
        Servings Prep Time
        4 people 30 minutes
        Cook Time Passive Time
        60 minutes 3 minutes
        Bacon Jam Mozza Burger
        Print Recipe
          Servings Prep Time
          4 people 30 minutes
          Cook Time Passive Time
          60 minutes 3 minutes
          Servings Prep Time
          4 people 30 minutes
          Cook Time Passive Time
          60 minutes 3 minutes
          Ingredients
          Bacon Jam
          Servings: people
          Instructions
          Bacon Jam
          1. Chop bacon into 1/4" dice. Heat a large sauce pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add diced bacon and cook uncovered until crisp and rendered, stirring often. Scoop out bacon onto a paper towel lined plate, leaving behind approximately 2 tbsp of bacon fat.
          2. Reduce heat to medium and add chopped onion. Cook uncovered until softened and starting to caramelize, approximately 10 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining ingredients including cooked bacon and heat to a simmer. Reduce heat and cook for approximately 30 minutes until mixture is "jammy"
          3. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. If you like a chunkier texture, serve bacon jam as is. If you prefer a jammier texture, add 1/2 the bacon jam to a food processor and pulse several times to break down bacon. Stir together with unprocessed half and serve. Yields an approximate 1 1/4 cups of bacon jam and will keep refrigerated in a sealed container for up to one week. Rewarm gently prior to use once it has been chilled.
          Burgers
          1. Preheat grill to medium high.
          2. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Weight ground chuck into 6 ounce portions. Form each portion into 4 1/2"-4 3/4"patties using a press or your hands, making sure not to overwork the meat. Using your thumb, make an indent in the centre of each pattie. Place formed patties onto parchment lined tray and lightly brush both sides with oil. Sprinkle both sides generously with kosher salt and cracked black pepper.
          3. Place patties onto grill and cook for approximately 4-5 minutes per side for medium or 140-145℉. Flip patties only once. Remove from heat onto a plate and top with cheese. Cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for about 3 minutes, giving the meat time to rest and the cheese time to melt.
          4. While burgers are resting, toast buns and warm bacon jam. Assemble burgers with bacon jam and other toppings as desired and serve immediately.

          Grilled Riverside Pizza

          Grilled Riverside Pizza

          Pizza and camping? Not your usual combination, but why not? Individual Grilled Riverside Pizza is an easy and super fun meal to build up with your favourite toppings and takes only minutes to grill. For me it’s always pepperoni, green peppers and sometimes black olives with a sprinkle of fresh basil and of course plenty of cheese. A pretty standard pizza for some, but ohhh so perfect with crispy charred bits reminiscent of a wood burning oven. Plus eating it from a napkin in my camp chair enjoying a river view is pretty great too. Any grill will work for this, so you don’t necessarily need to be camping to pull this off, but where’s the fun in that?

          A little prep is required if you choose to make your own dough, but of course you can use pre made frozen bread dough which works well. Plus it’s convenient, leaving you more time to enjoy the great outdoors. The main trick is to work the dough fairly thin so it cooks quickly without burning over the open flame. It may also be necessary to pierce any large dough bubbles that form before turning to keep things cooking evenly. Most of all, have fun, be creative with your toppings and enjoy!

          Recipe source for Grilled Riverside Pizza:  Compelled To Cook

          Grilled Riverside Pizza
          Print Recipe
            Servings Prep Time
            5-6 15 minutes
            Cook Time Passive Time
            10 minutes 70 minutes
            Servings Prep Time
            5-6 15 minutes
            Cook Time Passive Time
            10 minutes 70 minutes
            Grilled Riverside Pizza
            Print Recipe
              Servings Prep Time
              5-6 15 minutes
              Cook Time Passive Time
              10 minutes 70 minutes
              Servings Prep Time
              5-6 15 minutes
              Cook Time Passive Time
              10 minutes 70 minutes
              Ingredients
              Pizza Dough
              Pizza
              Servings:
              Instructions
              Pizza Dough
              1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, stir together water, sugar and yeast. Allow to sit for 10 minutes. Stir in half the flour, olive oil and salt. Continue to knead with mixer, adding flour by the 1/4 cup until smooth and pulling away from the sides of the bowl, using a little less or a little more flour to achieve this. About 7 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to double in size in a warm draft free area, about an hour. Punch down dough and divide into 5-6 equal portions approximately 125g each.
              Pizza
              1. If making right away, preheat grill to medium and allow dough to rest for 10 minutes. Shape dough portion into an approximate 9"x6" rectangle or any shape really, the key is to have the dough fairly thin. Immediately place dough onto hot grill and cook for 3-4 minutes until dough is crispy on the bottom and the top is starting to puff a little. Pierce any large bubbles on the top and flip dough. Spread with pizza sauce and add desired pizza toppings and continue to cook for an additional 4-5 minutes until toppings are hot and dough is cooked. Remove from grill, drizzle with oil and top with additional fresh basil if desired. Cut into desired portions.
              2. If saving dough to use later, wrap portions with plastic wrap and chill or freeze dough until ready to use. Allow enough time to defrost dough in refrigerator and bring either to room temperature prior to grilling. Once dough is at room temperature, continue by working dough into a thin disc and proceed with grilling.
              Recipe Notes

              Use purchased frozen bread dough if desired.  Allow dough to come to room temperature and divide into portions prior to proceeding.

              Regardless of the dough used, the key is to work each portion fairly thin so it cooks quickly enough on the grill before becoming too dark.  It's also important to not over fill the pizza with toppings, as too much prevents the toppings from heating through and melting the cheese.