A nice neighbor gave us a huge box of North Carolina sweet potatoes as well as a huge package of sausage made from a hog he raised. So we were already halfway toward the Grilled Sweet Potato and Sausage Pizza recipe I’d saved from the Winston-Salem Journal for more than two years.
The other challenge, one I’d avoided for more years than that, was that this pizza was supposed to be grilled, something my friend, food blogger and griller extraordinaire Catherine Chapin Mayhew has been recommending for all that time.
I could see a pizza dough seeping through the grill grates like the ill-fated flounder fillets I’d told ours kids hosting a dinner party to marinate and grill. I could see toppings flying everywhere (obviously, I hadn’t read the instructions about when to flip and when to top).
But Chapin (I’ve been given grandfathered permission to call her by her maiden name) even put a whole pizza chapter pizza in her cookbook, Handy Mom’s Guide Grilling: The Fast, Easy Way to Smokin’ Meals!, (Cool Springs Press, 2008) saying there’s no crust like a grilled one. So after two snowbound days, I was ready to be wild and crazy. Stoic the Vast lit the grill, oiled the grates and on went the crust.
I hadn’t looked back at the Handy Mom’s Guide which would have instructed me to use a pizza stone on the grill, and I misjudged how quickly the crust would cook over charcoal — the recipe’s intended for a gas grill. But even singed (we just called it Cajun Sweet Potato, etc.), the crust is truly like no other unless you’re lucky enough to live in a city with brick oven pizza palaces. Even then, I’m not sure you’d get the lovely taste of smoke you get from the grill.
You can be somewhat fluid with the measures and ingredients. Instead of a 20-ounce ball of dough, mine was 16 (I was saving half of a 2-pound box so I’d be able to make a re-do when the first slurped through the grates). I had 10 ounces of mozzarella from the grocery instead of a 1-pound ball of fresh, but I also upped the sausage a bit. I used 1 teaspoon dried thyme instead of 1 tablespoon fresh (it’s February!).
As Chapin puts it in her handy-dandy guide, “… don’t be too concerned about following the ingredient list exactly. Pizzas are like casseroles — there are no hard and fast rules.”
The sweet potatoes, which may sound like an odd ingredient unless you’re Southern, are so, well, sweet, combined with the other toppings. This particular recipe certainly has more steps than opening a box from the freezer, but, again, worth it.
This is how we’re having pizza from now on. Next on my to-do list is to learn how to spin a crust (my oldest daughter’s a pro at it).
Grilled sweet potato and sausage pizza
1 medium sweet potato (also can be increased)
2 sweet or spicy Italian chicken sausage, each cut diagonally into 8 slices
1 20-ounce ball of pizza dough
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 16-ounce ball fresh mozzarella, sliced
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (see above)
Bring medium saucepan of water to boil. Peel sweet potato and slice thinly in food processor or on mandoline. Drop slices into boiling water and boil until just tender but not falling apart, about 5 minutes. Drain, set aside.
Cook sausage slices on grill or in saucepan you used for sweet potatoes.
With heat on medium-high brush grates with oil. Stretch pizza dough into rough circle about 14 inches in diameter. Lower grill to medium heat, setting dough on grate. Close the lid and grill for 5 to 7 minutes or until bottom is toasted and golden. (Mine was probably ready to flip in 3 minutes or less.)
Brush top of crust with 1 tablespoon oil and flip over (it was easy to pick up by the edges). Brush again with second tablespoon oil. Top with sweet potato slices, cooked sausage and mozzarella slices. Close the grill and cook for 7 to 8 minutes or until cheese is melted and bottom of crust is golden and crispy. (I slid mine away from the fire for this step.) Remove from grill and sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme.
Makes 8 large slices, 310 calories, 7 g fat, 28 g protein, 4 g fiber and 800 mg sodium per slice.