One of my favorite holiday time foods has always been this sausage bread (like a Stromboli) my family makes, usually around Christmas time back in Upstate NY. Its pretty much a staple appetizer item at the extended family Christmas Eve dinner, but with the amount of it we always ate, it might as well have been a main course.
I had been making a lot of breads on the weekends (see post: Sourdough) and decided that I’d make up a couple batches of pizza dough as well to freeze and pull out whenever I wanted to do a homemade pizza… or one of these sausage breads. I actually hadn’t ever really made them since I’ve lived in Nashville (for over 10 years… yikes!), and usually just indulged whenever I’d travel back home to see family during the holidays, where typically my Aunt would make a few of them for everyone to chow down on. So recently I decided, why the heck not?! I guess I was feeling a bit nostalgic, so I went in the kitchen and threw one together. They’re pretty easy, so you should definitely give it a try. I’m not sure if this is how my family has done theirs over the years, but here’s how I did mine:
- 1 pizza dough ball (recipe makes two full sized pizzas usually, so just use half)
- cooked 1 lb ground Italian sausage
- chopped and cooked 1 green bell pepper
- chopped and cooked 1/4-1/2 of medium sized onion
- chopped and cooked 1 whole jalapeno (seeded)
- I’ll usually scramble up the sausage in a pan first to get some decent browning, then add in the peppers and onion to sweat down a bit, then turn off the heat and let it come to room temperature. If its greasy, just strain it off
- Next roll out the pizza dough flat, and relatively thin, but not too thin where it just tears apart. Spread a layer of Mozzarella, and whatever other cheeses you like for pizza (I usually use a mix of Mozz, Parmesan, Asiago, etc.). You don’t have to, but I sprinkle this now with some ground pepper and Italian seasoning
- Then layer the cooked (and cooled) mixture of ground Italian sausage, onion and peppers
- Next you would roll it like sushi, or a burrito, tucking in the ends so it’s all enclosed
- place on a pan w/ parchment paper seam side down and cook in a preheated 400°F oven for around 30 mins or until its all golden brown. Some of the cheese and meat grease may leak out, but if you place it with the seam down correctly, it shouldn’t bust open and ooze all out (don’t worry though, I’ve had that happen to me… its annoying, but it still tastes good)
once it comes out of the oven, just slide onto a cooling rack, and let it cool down quite a bit. If you cut into it while its hot it won’t really stay together too well, and you want it to hold together when you slice it, so you can pick it up and eat it by hand with ease, though its hard to do, because it smells so dang amazing.
My wife had never had it until I made it a couple weeks back, and now she loves it! I added Pepperoni to the one we made last night, just for funzies, and its SO GOOD. But if you’re looking to try something else, other than a plain old pizza, give this a try. You can even make up a tomato sauce to dip it in if you feel like you need it, but I tend to like mine without it.
I’ve also made one before for breakfast (with breakfast ingredients: bacon, egg, and cheese) and it turned out awesome as well!