Homemade Spicy Lamb Pizza with Cooling Tzatziki Salad


3/4 pound ground lamb
1 tablespoon each fennel seed, rye seed, cracked black pepper, dried
1 small cucumber, seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced (about 4 tablespoons, divided)
1 small red onion, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons butter, melted


Last night’s episode of The Next Food Network Star was dutifully watched in Lolita’s living room, and (as usual) I compared myself and my skills to those chefs/cooks/(and bloggers!) and wondered whether I could compete in that sort of arena. I decided to take up one of their challenges - to make a pizza that best defined me: a toasted EVOO’d crust topped with spiced sauteed ground lamb, nutty goat cheese, briny feta, red onion, garlic and oregano, served with a quick tzatziki sauce and salad.
My lamb was locally harvested from a farm in New Hampshire, according to the butcher at Whole Foods. At $6.99/lb, it was an excellent price for an excellent product.
My seasonings replicated my favorite sausage spices: fennel seed, rye seed, and oregano.
I throw them, along with my black and crushed red pepper, into a hot wok with a glug or two of sizzling EVOO, and I let them toast for a moment to release the flavorful oils inside each bit of spice.
Then I chuck my lamb into the pan, and break it up into small meatball-sized chunks, allowing it to brown and absorb all the punch from my seeds and spices. When it’s cooked through, I remove it from the heat and set it aside until I’m ready to spread it on my pizza.
I didn’t see any of the chefs on the show making their own dough, and given my lack of a food processor with a dough hook (and my desire to make this quickly – being a weeknight wondermeal and all), I bought my dough from Whole Foods. It’s a pretty good product, even if it is sometimes over-proofed, resulting in air bubbles and blistering/blackening edges. Today’s dough, however, was great. I turn it out of the bag onto my floured counter, then split the lump in half to make my pizza base and some garlic rolls to go with it.
Using my hands first to form the basic shape, I then roll out the pizza crust as thinly as possible with my rolling pin. The rolls I form by hand and set onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. My pizza pan has been in my 425° oven for the past 10 minutes, getting nice and hot.
Along with my sausage, thinly sliced red onion, and 1/3 of my minced garlic (some of which I’ll save to toss with butter for my rolls, and some of which will go in my tzatziki sauce), I’m going to top my pizza with a combination of feta cheese – for salty – and goat cheese – for creamy.
After making sure all my toppings are ready for action, I very quickly remove the pizza pan from the oven, slather some EVOO over the surface, then stretch my pizza crust dough over the surface as best as possible. I drizzle some EVOO over the dough, then spread out my sausage bits, red onion, minced garlic, and cheeses. I shake some black pepper and oregano over the whole thing, before putting the pan into the oven. My oven’s two racks are on the top two slots — as far from the bottom’s heating coils as possible — so I place the rolls on the top one (since they need more room to grown), and my pizza on the bottom. Cook for 15 minutes, or until…
the crust turns nice and brown, the meat heats back through, the EVOO sizzles, and the cheese melts (which – in the case of feta and goat cheeses – means they fluff up and turn golden brown at the edges).
I made a quick tzatziki sauce with my strained Greek yogurt, my cucumber (which I deseeded, salted, and chopped), 1/3 of my minced garlic, and cracked black pepper. This coolifying condiment, along with some shredded iceberg lettuce, will temper the heat of my lamb.
My rolls have been tossed in butter and garlic, and are fluffy on the inside and perfectly crusty on the outside. Mouthfuls of complex spice and gamey sweet meat meeting cooling cream and crisp lettuce over an almost crackery crisp crust makes for a personal pizza experience unlike any other. Clayton and I ended up topping our slices with the greens and cream, so we could enjoy our salad and our pizza in each beautiful bite. It took barely an hour to pull this meal together (and that’s with me stopping to take pictures every few minutes), and the ingredients cost less than $20. One could argue that getting delivery would be cheaper and easier, but it would in no way be fresher, and it could never be this delicious. Delivery pizza has its place in dorm rooms and at Superbowl parties, but for a true diner’s dinner, I






Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - 6:12am


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