Pizza with homemade fennel sausage, smoked mozzarella and broccoli
This is a pizza with pizzazz, the trick being that you spice the sausage yourself. I did this by buying a high-quality fresh sausage, known in France as a chipolata, from a good butcher. I then slit open the casing and removed the meat — presto.
But the quality of sausage varies widely around the world — for example, some sausages contain oatmeal or another cereal, and this you definitely do not want. If you have doubts about finding the right kind of sausage, the best solution would be to ask your butcher to grind some pork for you with sufficient fat to make a sausage. In this case, salt and pepper the meat before you begin.
As for the smoked mozzarella, it’s a cheese called scamorza affumicata in Italian. If this is not available where you live, substitute normal mozzarella, either fresh or partially dried.
As an everyday French chef, I usually use packaged pizza dough for my adventures in home pizza-making. If you’d like to make your own dough, there are plenty of recipes available on the web, including this one from Epicurious.
The inspiration for this recipe came from the San Diego restaurant Buona Forchetta, where I tasted a similar pizza. The difference is that they used the leafy broccoli known in Italian as rapini. As this is not available everywhere, I substituted regular broccoli, which worked out just fine.
1/4 pound (100 g.) uncooked pork sausage meat
1 clove garlic
1 tsp. dried herbes de Provence or oregano
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 small dried cayenne pepper
1/4 pound (100 g.) broccoli flowerets (about 1 cup)
1/4 pound (100 g.) scamorza (smoked mozzarella)
1 uncooked pizza crust
1 tbsp. olive oil
Place the sausage meat in a bowl. Peel and mince the garlic and add to the bowl. Add the dried herbs and fennel seeds. Using a paper towel to protect your hands, crush the cayenne pepper and add. Mix everything together with a fork. Set aside for at least an hour to allow the flavors to blend. If setting aside for longer than that, refrigerate.
Cut off about 3 large broccoli flowers. Rinse. Remove as much of the stem as possible and break into flowerets. Steam one minute over boiling water. Remove the lid of the steamer — this will ensure that the broccoli keeps its vibrant green color — and set aside.
Grate the smoked mozzarella using the larger holes on a hand or electric grater. If using fresh mozzarella, cut into slices instead.
Ten minutes before you plan to assemble the pizza, unroll the dough on parchment paper and stretch it out a bit. The pizza does not need to form a perfect circle. Place on top of a baking sheet or your broiler pan, but do not place in the oven.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 7 (425 F, 220 C).
Now assemble the pizza: Using a pastry brush, spread the olive oil evenly over the surface of the dough. Form the sausage mix into walnut-sized balls and scatter them over the pizza. Scatter the broccoli flowerets, and sprinkle on the grated cheese.
Place in the hot oven and bake for about 10 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown. Serve at once. Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a starter.