Grilled Sausage and Red Pepper Pizza

Whenever I suggest making homemade pizza for dinner, my fiance says 'there are just some things that are better at a restaurant.'  I always give in because he does have a point, why make something yourself when someone else has already mastered it to perfection? I could eat Louie's pizza in Dallas everyday of my life. Louie makes a mean pizza. 

However, there are several reasons to make your own pizza. 1. It's fun to make 2. You can customize it (i.e., lighter on the cheese!!) 3. It truly is delicious!!!

I bit the bullet this weekend and made this pizza recipe (without telling my fiance about it ahead of time) - and I turned him into a believer. It was wonderful, maybe not Louie's wonderful, but homemade wonderful - which can be just as good. I like grilling the toppings and crust, then finishing it in the oven. Why grill the pizza at all? Because it tastes more like the brick oven (or woodfire, etc) pizza that restaurants seem so eager to advertise. They must know what they're doing, so I will follow their lead.

Crust Recipe:
Combine the bread flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add the warm water and oil; mix until combined. Take the dough out and place on a lightly floured surface. Gently knead to form a ball; if dough is too sticky add a pinch more flour; if it is too dry you can add more water. Place the dough back into the bowl and set in a warm place in the house (75 degrees is good). Let rise until the ball doubles in size, about 1 hr.  This is my dough, enjoying an afternoon in my favorite room by the knockout roses. 
While the dough is rising, prepare the toppings.  

Pizza Toppings (for one large pizza):
In a saute pan over medium heat, brown the sausage and drain. Heat the grill to medium heat. Chop the pepper and onion into large pieces, toss with olive oil and S+P, and lay directly on the grill. Grill until slightly browned, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove from grill and chop into smaller pieces, about 1/2 inch wide. Heat the grill to high.

When the dough has risen, take it out of the bowl and place it on a floured surface. With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough until it is about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. I like really thin, crispy pizza, so the thinner the better. It helps to roll it out, let it rest for a second, then roll again. This process gives you the thinnest crust.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 450. Brush one side of the crust with olive oil. Place it on a floured pizza stone or pizza pan to take out to the grill. I find the best technique to move it onto the grill is to just pick it up with both hands and throw it on there, oil side down. Sure you lose a little of the shape here, but if you're not Bobbie Flay it is tricky to do it any other way.
I didn't take a picture here because I was too concerned about burning the crust (or my fingers) - but I left the pizza on the grill for about 2-3 minutes, until crispy brown on the side.

From here, you can either flip and finish on the grill, or move to the oven. It's easier to finish in the oven, so that's what I did. Slide the pizza dough back onto the pizza pan (using tongs), and bring inside for your toppings.

Brush the top of the crust with olive oil (this keeps the sauce and toppings from sogging up the pizza). Add the pizza sauce, cheese, and desired toppings. I chopped up about a quarter cup of basil to add some flavor, and it was delicious. Place the pizza in the oven and cook for about 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese is slightly browned.
This is a fun dinner party pizza, served with salad and plenty of wine!

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