At our house, we have our share of classic, pepperoni-and-cheese style pizzas. But I really enjoy bringing unexpected toppings to a pizza—to shake up the pizza, yes, but also to enjoy other favorite food combinations in a new way. Just about any meal can be transformed into a pizza, and if you have any doubt, peek at my Pizza Party page to see some of the other fun combinations we’ve enjoyed over the past couple of years. Even I was surprised to see how easily Buffalo wings, oysters Rockefeller or jambalaya can be transformed into a perfect, tasty slice.
My goal with this pizza was to recreate the experience of dining at a classic steakhouse, but without the heavy, overstuffed feeling that always seems to follow a glorious meal of steak and potatoes. I knew that balsamic roasted onions belonged on this meat and potato pie, and definitely a touch of bleu cheese, but I needed a minute to figure out the sauce. A typical red sauce wouldn’t do, but I found a few things in the door of the fridge and whipped up an easy steak sauce that was tangy, spicy and just slightly sweet.
A thin crust is right for this pizza and lets the steak and Yukon gold potatoes take center stage. If you have leftover steak, slice it really thin for this pizza. Or follow my lead and use half a package of shaved steak—the kind you’d cook up for a Philly cheesesteak. I used mozzarella on the base, but Monterey jack or any other mild, neutral cheese would be a good choice as well.
The result was just right, with enough meat to satisfy but not so much to overwhelm. The Yukon gold potatoes were soft and creamy, and the accent of bleu cheese reminded me of a real steakhouse dinner. Except, of course, for the belly bloat or the outrageous steakhouse price.
3 Tbsp. homemade steak house (recipe below, or use your favorite)
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 lb. thinly shaved steak
1 large Yukon gold potato, boiled until fork-tender and sliced thin
1 medium sweet onion, roasted and drizzled with 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 oz. bleu cheese crumbles
2 Tbsp. natural ketchup
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. dark balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. hot sauce (any kind you like)
1/2 tsp. prepared horseradish
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Thin with a little water if needed
Prepare the onion by slicing it into thin rounds. Arrange the slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet and drizzle them with olive oil. Roast at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until onions have softened and the rings slide apart evenly. Drizzle with balsamic and roast another 10 minutes, taking care not to burn the onions. Set them aside to cool.
Meanwhile, boil the Yukon gold potato until it can be pierced with the tip of a knife, but not to the point of being too soft. Let the potato cool completely, then cut it into slices about 1/4” thin.
Sear shaved steak in a small amount of olive oil just until lightly browned. Shred steak into smaller, bite sized pieces and season with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to make the pizza.
Shape pizza dough into a 14” round and transfer to a floured and cornmeal-dusted pizza peel. Season the dough with salt and pepper, then swirl on about 1/4 cup of the steak sauce. Scatter mozzarella all over the sauce. Arrange the shredded steak over the cheese, followed by the potato slices and the balsamic onions. Place dots of bleu cheese crumbles over the top of the pizza.
Slide the pizza into a very hot (550° F) oven, preferably onto a pizza steel or stone. Bake for 6 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and crust is golden brown.
I didn’t have much notice to plan for it or I would have announced to all of you that this past Friday was “National Make a Ruckus Day.” My husband, Les, and I have been planning various improvement projects this spring, and we had no sooner made a final decision on the color of architectural shingles we liked for a roof revamp when his phone rang just after dinner Thursday night. The shingles were in stock and the weather was right, so the crew would arrive at the crack of dawn!
The crew arrived early, and there were either six or seven of them—it was hard to tell because they didn’t stand still long enough for a headcount, and I am still in a bit of shock that their work was completed in one day. The noise was non-stop, from the stomping overhead, to the ripping and peeling sounds of the old shingles coming off, to the banging of hammers and air nailers installing the new roofing materials, to the construction-grade boombox that was blasting lively mariachi music just outside my home office window. All day Friday, both entrances to our home were blocked, and tarps stretched out across the yard to catch the refuse that was being flung from above. Les was working from home that day, so we were sequestered into our own “zones” of the house. The dog, who is terrified of any noise she cannot see, spent most of the day crammed against my knees underneath my work desk, the cat was just plain pissed that she couldn’t go outside (she didn’t understand that her life might have been at risk), and I was so frazzled about all of the above that I started contemplating tequila shots at about 2 in the afternoon.
On top of what was happening at our address, the neighbors across the cul-de-sac had a contractor show up to replace flooring in their master bedroom, and our yard crew was running a day behind on mowing and trimming, so they showed up on Friday to pretty up the common spaces.
There were trucks and trailers and service vans everywhere, and full-on RUCKUS.
There was no way I could escape the house, even to take my daily walk, let alone to make a grocery run, and so I was thankful that dinner was already planned. The whole experience of chaos, Les said, was good practice for the excitement we will experience if we follow through on remodeling our kitchen later this year. I’ve been griping about our kitchen since I moved into the house with him a few years ago, and we are finally ready to apply solutions for our lack of counter space, poor traffic flow and shortage of pantry storage. But committing to the project is scary, not only for the cost, but the time involved. Each contractor we have spoken to has said, “plan for at least six weeks without your kitchen.” And it is true—no matter what Chip and JoJo seem to accomplish in one houron HGTV—new kitchens take time, and that will be a big challenge. We will figure out how to eat, but how will I be able to sustain the blog?
There might be a lot of grilling recipes coming your way, or it could be a good time for me to catch up on the vast backlog of recipes I have made but not yet transformed into posts. Or I may turn my attention to other ideas I have had for Comfort du Jour, including fun furniture projects and artistic ventures. I’ve gotten pretty good over the years at upcycling tables and worn out chairs. Of course, I may also spend six weeks sharing nothing but cocktail recipes, which—given my low tolerance for ruckus—will probably be in hot rotation.
Anyway, we relaxed under our new roof Friday night with this pizza, our interpretation of one of our favorite take-out sandwiches. We have long enjoyed the “big kahuna” sandwich from Jersey Mike’s, which is a variation of a Philly cheesesteak, but with mushrooms and jalapenos thrown into the mix, and plenty of gooey white cheese. The sandwich is awesome (especially when we ask for extra jalapenos), but it’s so packed with ingredients that we knew that our usual N.Y. thin crust could not hold it all in pizza form.
We went with a deep-dish pie this time, beginning with the crust, adapted from a King Arthur Baking recipe. I followed the recipe nearly to the letter except for a partial sub-in of white whole wheat flour. You know I’m always going to share my honest opinion, and frankly, I did not love this crust. It was easy enough to make, and instructions were clear and complete, but the recipe called for oil and also quite a bit of melted butter, which I haven’t really seen before as an ingredient for pizza dough. It rose on schedule and baked up beautifully, but the end result, for me, was too similar to pie crust or biscuits, and not quite right for pizza. I would consider it again for some kind of vegetable tart, but for pizza I will stick with the formula offered by Jeff Mauro from Food Network. His recipe with all olive oil makes a wonderful, crunchy-but-soft crust that is so, so good on a deep-dish pizza.
As with most near-misses in our kitchen, this pizza was still delicious. And it was extra yummy after such an unexpectedly noisy Friday.
Prepare the dough for your deep-dish pizza. This will take some time, depending on the recipe you choose.
Place a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add a couple swirls of olive oil and saute the onions, bell peppers, mushrooms and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Onions should be soft and translucent and mushrooms should be browned on both sides. Transfer vegetables to a dish and set aside.
In the same skillet, over medium-high heat, swirl in olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. When oil is shimmering, add the shaved steak, a few pieces at a time, and toss around to brown it all over. Don’t overcrowd the pan, or the meat will steam rather than brown. Transfer cooked steak to a dish and continue until all the steak is cooked. You may not use all of it on the pizza.
Make the white cheese sauce, beginning with a butter and flour roux in a medium saucepan. Heat the butter until bubbly, then add the flour and whisk together until it appears foamy and the butter is browned. Add the milk all at once and whisk constantly until mixture is smooth, thickened and lightly bubbling. Add cubed American cheese and stir or whisk until melted. Reduce heat to very low to keep sauce slightly warm and pourable while you prep the pizza crust.
Preheat oven to 450° F, with oven rack in the center of the oven.
Place your prepared deep-dish dough into a 14-inch pan (or two 9-inch cake pans), and press gently to spread the dough out to the edges and up the sides about an inch. If the dough is very springy, cover the pan for 15 minutes, allowing the gluten to relax before proceeding.
Scatter the shredded pepperjack cheese evenly over the pizza dough, and press down firmly to ensure good coverage.
Load up your toppings, including the steak, vegetables and jalapeno peppers.
Drizzle the white cheese sauce all over the top. If the sauce does not readily flow into the nooks and crannies, give it an assist with a spatula or spoon.
Bake for about 25 minutes, until the cheese sauce is browned and bubbling, and crust is a deep golden brown. Check on it at the halfway point, and tent loosely with foil, if necessary, to prevent over-browning of the cheese. Rest finished pizza about 15 minutes before using large spatulas to transfer it to a cutting board or round pizza sheet.
In case you are curious about the outcome… Wow, what a difference a day can make!