March 28, 2011
I recently reported on my first time making Pizza Braids, after being inspired by a post on one of our favorite blogs, For the Love of Cooking. That first post was fairly popular, but at the time I posted it, I noted that the cooked pizza braids had looked and smelled so delicious that I'd neglected to snap any pictures of them sliced up and ready to serve. As you can see from the photo above, I recently took the opportunity to correct that oversight, and to once again make a meal that has quickly become one of my fast, delicious "go to dinner" choices.
As a quick reminder, pizza braids are made by flattening out some supermarket pizza dough - the kind that comes in a tube - making slices along both sides, covering the middle area with pizza sauce, cheese and toppings, then braiding the sliced pieces of dough over the middle area to enclose the fillings. After about 1/2 hour in the oven, they're cooked, hot, delicious and ready to serve.
The recipe is reprinted below. If you haven't tried these yet, I encourage you to do so. You won't be sorry.
Pepperoni, Sausage and Mushroom Pizza Braids
yield = 4 -5 servings
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage
1/4 pound pepperoni
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil + 1/4 cup
1 onion, grated
6 ounces button mushrooms, sliced thin
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons cornmeal
2 cans refrigerated thin pizza crust
1 1/3 cup canned pizza sauce (we used Dei Fratelli)
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, freshly shredded
2 tablespoons + two teaspoons freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Cook sausage in a small skillet, breaking it into small pieces with the side of a wooden spoon. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
While the sausage cooks, line a microwave-safe plate with two layers of paper towels. Spread pepperoni slices over the paper towels, cover with another paper towel and microwave for 60 seconds. Repeat until all the pepperoni slices are cooked.
Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and mushroom and cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft and the mushrooms have released all their liquid.
Clear a space in the middle of the pan and add garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds), then add pepper and salt, stir to mix, and remove from heat.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon corn meal on each baking sheet.
Spread one pizza crust on a baking sheet in a rectangle. Spoon 2/3 cup of pizza sauce along the middle third of the dough. Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut even slits on both sides of the sauce. Sprinkle 2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese atop the sauce, then top with 1/2 of the onion and mushroom mixture and 1/2 of the pepperoni slices, 1/2 of the cooked sausage. Spread another 2 ounces of mozzarella atop these toppings, then sprinkle with one tablespoon grated romano cheese.
Starting at one end, fold alternating strips from the sides of the dough over the filling at an angle, continuing until all the side strips have been folded over the fillings.
Brush the top of the pizza braid with olive oil, then sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano and one teaspoon romano cheese. Bake until nicely browned, about 30-35 minutes, then remove from the oven to a cutting board and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Slice and serve. Repeat with the other prepared baking sheet and the remainder of the ingredients.