~ Super Sausage-Pizza Sliders on Pizza Dough Rolls ~
While these paled in comparison to what historically just might be the best Super Bowl game ever, my game-winning pizza sliders were the hit of our indoor at-home tailgate feast on Sunday. Sausage, mushrooms and onion has long been my favorite carnivorous topping for a pizza, and, when it comes to my signature sliders, the topping combo comes in the form of a patty -- served up on a pizza-dough roll, sloppy with melted mozzarella, marinara, and roasted red pepper too.
The inspiration for pizza-dough-rolls came several years ago. My mother remarked that my Sicilian-style pizza dough just might make great bread or dinner rolls. My first reaction was to laugh, but, after thinking about it, I decided it was worth giving the idea a try -- "nothing ventured, nothing gained", as mom always said. Thing is, when I baked them freeform on a flat pan, while they were good, they simply were not as light on the inside. The muffin tin corrected that, in that: the shape of a muffin cup, with its steep, gently-sloped sides seriously promotes their rising and developing beautifully-domed tops. (Dinner roll-size on left/slider-size on right.)
I use my favorite herby Sicilian-style pizza dough recipe, and, I typically put some herbs in my dough even when I'm making a basic tomato-sauce and mozzarella-cheese pizza. That said, there are many types of pizza dough. Feel free to use your own favorite recipe, it should work (no guarantees though) as long as it is Sicilian-style, but please add the herbs to it -- it's the flavored dough that makes these rolls amazing. If you'd like to try my recipe, you can make my dough via conventional hand mixing and kneading, you can make it via a stand mixer or a food processor, or, you can do what I currently do: allow the bread machine to do most of the work for me, which simplifies the process considerably.
If you're a person who sits down to dinner and likes to dip your rustic bread in a side of tangy tomato-based pasta sauce or savory American-style gravy, these muffin-tin-baked personal-sized dinner rolls are better than any slice of rustic bread any day of the week -- so be prepared to expand your waistband. To make dinner rolls, simply double the ingredients on the following list and double the baking time too. Put a basket of these on your dinner table and let the dipping begin.
To make 1 dozen slider-size pizza-dough rolls:
3/4 cups warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon each: garlic powder, Italian seasoning blend and coarse-grind black pepper
1 1/8 teaspoon yeast granules
no-stick cooking spray, for preparing muffin tins
~ Step 1. To prepare the dough, place all ingredients in pan of bread machine in the order listed, except for the yeast. Using your index finger, make a small indentation ("a well") on top of the dry ingredients, but not so deep that it reaches the wet layer. Place the yeast into the indentation. Insert the pan into the bread machine, plug the machine in, press the "Select" button, choose the "Pizza Dough" cycle, then press "Start". In 55 minutes, you will have 1 pound, 1 ounce of dough.
~Step 3. Spray insides of 12, standard-sized muffin cups with no-stick spray. Remove dough from bread pan. Divide dough into 12, slightly less than 1 1/2-ounce pieces (1 3/8-ounces each is great). The best way to do this is with a kitchen scale. In between the palms of hands, form each piece of dough into a ball, placing one in each muffin. Cover the pan(s) with a lint-free cotton towel and allow dough to rise for 30 minutes.
~Step 4. Uncover the pans and bake rolls on center rack of preheated 350° oven, 10-12 minutes, or until lightly-browned and hollow sounding when tapped with the knuckle of index finger. Do not overcook these rolls. Italian bread is rarely deep-golden in color. Remove from oven and place pans on a wire cooling rack. Cool rolls in pans 2-3 minutes prior to removing them from pans to wire rack cool completely.
Prepping the toppings for 1 dozen pizza sliders:
12 slices deli-style mozzarella cheese, cut into quarters
1 1/2-2 cups marinara sauce, homemade or your favorite brand, warmed on the stovetop or in the microwave
24 roasted red pepper pieces, trimmed to fit 12 sandwiches
12 3"-round pizza-dough slider rolls, from above recipe
~ Step 1. Cut each slice of mozzarella into quarters. From 9 of the slices, stack the pieces on top of each other, 12 stacks of 3 pieces each. Set the remaining 12 pieces (from 3 slices) aside, separate from the stacked pieces. Drain and trim the roasted red peppers into 24 squarish-pieces and stack the pieces on top of each other, 12 stacks of 2 pieces each. Warm the marinara sauce and slice the slider rolls.
For 1 dozen slider-size sausage, mushroom & onion patties:
6 ounces small-diced white button mushroom caps, about 2 generous cups
4 ounces small-diced yellow or sweet onion, about 1 cup
1 tablespoon olive oil
coarsely-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend, about 10 grinds salt & 15 grinds pepper
~Step 1. Place olive oil in a 10" nonstick skillet. Dice the onion and mushroom caps as directed, placing them in the skillet as you work. Lightly season with freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend. Place over medium heat and stirring almost constantly, cook until the bottom of the skillet is very dry and veggies are just beginning to brown, 8-9 minutes. Remove from heat cool and to slightly warm or room temperature, 30-45 minutes.
~Step 2. Place sausage in a large bowl and add the cooled mushroom and onion mixture. Using your hands, mix thoroughly, like you would meatloaf. You will have about 1 pound, 10 ounces of sausage, mushroom and onion mixture. Cover sausage mixture with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to firm up a bit, about 30-60 minutes, this will make it easier to divide and form the slider-size patties.
~Step 3. Using a kitchen scale as a measure, place about 1 7/8-2 ounces of the chilled sausage mixture in the center of a 3"-round pastry cutter. Using your fingertips, pat and press the meat into the cutter, to mold a patty. Repeat this process, 11 more times, placing the patties in the bottom of a 12" nonstick skillet as you work. Note: The sausage contains plenty of its own fat, so there is no need for oil or no-stick spray in the skillet.
~Step 4. Adjust heat on stovetop to medium, and, cook the patties until golden brown on both sides and just cooked through, turning only once, about 6 minutes per side. Adjust the heat up or down as necessary so as not to overcook -- you want the patties to remain plump and juicy.
~Step 6. To melt the cheese on the patties, place one stack of three pieces of mozzarella cheese on top of each sausage patty. Put a lid on the skillet and wait for the cheese to melt. This will take 2-4 minutes, depending on how thick the deli-cheese was sliced. Turn the heat off but keep the lid on the skillet until it's their turn on the slider rolls.
~Step 7. On the bottom half of each sliced slider roll, place one piece of the reserved mozzarella cheese. Spoon a generous tablespoon of warm marinara sauce on top of the cheese. Top the sauce with one of the warm sausage patties, followed by two roasted red pepper pieces. Add the top half of each roll and serve sliders while still warm -- ASAP.
Pretty as a picture & tastes even better:
Special Equipment List: bread machine (optional); 2, standard-sized muffin pans, enough for 12 muffins/rolls; kitchen scale; wire cooling rack; cutting board; chef's knife; 10" skillet, preferably nonstick; large slotted spoon or spatula; plastic wrap; 3"-round pastry cutter; 12" skillet w/lid, preferably nonstick
Cook's Note: I surely didn't invent the word pizz'alad, but it is catchy. That said, I'd been kind-of making one for years before publications like Eating Well, Bon Appetít and Food and Wine started coining this trendy term to describe a pizza with a salad on top. Everyone loves a personal-sized pizza, and, for a different, delicious, not to mention fun twist to "normal" pizza, test your creativity and try your hand at making: ~ Pizz' alads: Salad Pizza (Pizza w/a Salad on Top) ~. Be prepared for many accolades!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)