Welcome to the Pizza Quest Instructionals
Peter Reinhart

Welcome Everyone,

This is where we will be posting recipes and instructional videos by many of the guests featured on the Pizza Quest webisodes. It is also a place where you can comment and share your own thoughts or questions regarding the featured recipes, as well tips and tricks of your own. Considering the collective knowledge and wisdom possessed by the Pizza Quest community, this should be a very exciting and dynamic section. We'll keep adding new video pieces as we get them edited, so check back from time to time to see the latest. Our hope is to inspire you to create your own amazing pizzas (and not just pizza, as we'll be showing some other great dishes too), and to give you some new tips and tools to add to your culinary tool box. Mangia!!!

Beer Sauteed Lamb Merguez Sausage Pizza
Brad English

Note from Peter: We're still having some major problems with the photo upload and may have to do a major overhaul. But I didn't want to delay sharing this great post by Brad English, so we're breaking with tradition and putting it up without the usual mouth-watering photos. Just let your visual imagination roam and enjoy the story. Take it away Brad....

Note from Brad: I'll post a couple pictures on our Facebook page.

Lately, I've been playing with my wood-fired oven while it comes up to pizza temperature. There's a lot of usable heat to make side dishes, or in the case of making pizzas, some toppings.  Once there is a good fire going, after 20-30 minutes, there is plenty of heat radiating out onto the hearth.  This is the perfect time to throw something together in a cast iron skillet, or in the case of peppers or chillis, you can just throw them onto the hearth stone at the foot of the fire and roast away.

This is one of the more interesting things about cooking with a wood-fired oven, or even a charcoal fire instead of a home oven or gas grill, which are both much more accurate and controllable.  Open fire cooking is more interactive.  You can't just start the oven and set a timer.  You have to work with the heat/fire which is constantly changing.  You also have to build your fire with a well thought-out plan of how hot you want it, when you need it that hot, etc.  As a home cook/food geek, with what I suppose is basically a cooking hobby, open fire cooking feels somehow more connective.

I've been sautéing my sausage this way for some time now.  I've also been creating a variety of sausage "sauces" lately.  I'll throw in some onions, garlic, or other ingredients like fennel, or jalapeños with my sausage and cook them, hopefully, until just before they are done, so they can finish on my pizza.  The more I play with this sausage sauce idea, the more saucy it's gotten. The juice/sauce left over is a really great drizzle for the pizza, with lots of flavor!

I met a pizzaiolo named Chef Joseph Boness, who owns and operates a Mobile Wood Burning Oven business called Vella Pizza ( in Torrance, CA.  I was at one of our new local breweries in Torrance, CA, called Absolution Brewing Company, with some friends.  It turned out that Chef Boness was there with his WBO.  Naturally, we hit it off!  He made some great pizza and I got to spend a bit of time with him talking shop!  Fun stuff.  I'm hoping we'll be hearing more from him in the future.  Stay tuned.  Long story short - and to the point -- one of the toppings he used for a delicious calzone he made for me was made with a beer sausage.  He used one of the beers at the brewery to make this sausage.  It was so good that, later that week, I decided to play at home in my Primavera.


Lamb Merguez Sausage and Sauce Ingredients:

- Lamb Merguez Sausage

- olive oil

- Leeks

- chopped garlic

- sea salt

- black pepper

- beer

Lamb Merguez Sausage and Sauce and Roasted Chilis:

Build a fire!  This could be done on the stove top also, but we've got a Wood Burning Oven. So…

As the fire was getting going I threw some nice red and yellow chilis onto the hearth in front of the burning almond wood.  Keep turning them while they roast to make sure to evenly cook on all sides.  This worked great.  As soon as these were done, the oven was pretty hot and ready for my sausage pan.

Heat up the pan and add your olive oil.

*I use a lot of olive oil because I want to make sure there is a "sauce" that I can drizzle on the finished pizza.

Thinly slice up your leeks and chop a few cloves of garlic and place in the pan and sauté.

Break the sausage up into pieces about twice the size you will want on your pizza and place them into the leek/garlic sauté.

*Once cooked, I pinch them in half to place on the pizza which exposes the middle which should still need a little cooking to finish them, or at least have a little cooking left in them since they are going back in the oven on your pizza.

After a minute or so, add some beer to the pan.

*I use a good amount to help create the sauce.

Saute until the sausage are almost done and a good amount of the beer/sauce has been reduced.

Set aside to cool.  Can be used right away to top a pizza, or used after it's cooled.  This can also be done on the stove top ahead of time.


The Beer Sauteed Lamb Merguez Sausage Pizza:

- Your favorite Pizza Dough

- Can of Bianco DiNapoli Whole Peeled Tomatoes - if you can get them! If not, use the best you can find

- Lamb Merguez Sausage and Sauce

- Roasted Chilis - peeled and sliced into strips

- Fresh Mozzarella

- Fresh Basil


Spread your dough.

I used my tomatoes whole by simply pulling the top off where the stem connects and opening the tomato, pulling it in half.  Lay the tomato halves around the pizza.

Add your lamb sausage and leek mixture.

Tear some fresh mozzarella and place around the pizza.

Add the sliced roasted chilis and then drizzle with some of your sausage sauce which will blend with your tomatoes to make a great super sauce.

Into the oven. Bake till done, about three to four minutes if your oven is set just right (not 800 degrees, as in Naples but more like 650 - 700 degrees F.

Out of the oven.

Top with some chopped fresh basil.

This pizza was delicious!  The leeks where a nice variation on using onions and went well with the bold earthy lamb Merguez sausage.  The mild chilis added a nice texture and subtle chili note.  I could see heating this up a bit with some roasted Fresno Chilis or Serranos, but it was nice letting the Merguez sausage take the lead note on this pizza also.  The milky simplicity of the fresh mozzarella let all of these ingredients come forward and gave it a really nice balance.

*Note:  I may try to marinade the sausage in the beer prior to cooking next time to give them more time to get together.


Joseph's Provolone Pizza
Peter Reinhart

As a special welcome to The Fire Within, our newest sponsor, here is a video we shot last October at an oven owners conference hosted by Joseph Pergolizzi, the owner and founder of The Fire Within.  We shot a number of these instructional videos at the end of the conference with various attendees, asking each of the oven owners what kind of pizza they wanted to make, and Joseph chose this one and a couple of others, including a killer clam pizza. In this video, though, we not only get to make a simple yet beautiful pizza with pesto, two kinds of cheese (with a special tribute to Provolone, which both of us love), and local cherry tomatoes, but also talk about the oven rigs themselves.

Note that the crust is a little puffy in this version, almost like a round Sicilian or focaccia style dough, but you can always make the crust as thin or thick as you like when you do it. The dough was so delicious (recipe in the PQ Instructional archives), and the combo of fresh tomatoes, pesto, and cheeses are so perfect that, when the cameras stopped running, we devoured this little pie in about 30 seconds.

For more details on these oven rigs, click through to The Fire Within website on our home page. Joseph and I are already talking about doing another conference in Boulder next autumn and would love to have you there.

This Zucchini Pepperoni Pizza
Brad English

You only thought you didn't have any pepperoni in the fridge!

They say pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping in the United States.  I'm sure that the vast majority of that comes on delivery pizzas and your local town or chain pizzerias.  When we think of artisan pizza, pepperoni isn't the first thing that comes to mind.  In fact, it's the opposite…you'll almost never see pepperoni on any artisan pizzas.  Instead you'll see a variety of salted cured pork delicacies on the menu such as seasoned Salumi like Calabrese or Finocchiona as well as sopressatas, prosciuttos or other gourmet cured items.

When you think about your favorite wood fired pizza, or artisan coal fired, or brick oven pizza, it's the dough and the charred bubbles on the crust and then the amazing "new" variety of gourmet toppings that will lay on top of the deliciously warm, soft and crusty dough.  When I am ordering at my family's favorite local pizzeria I will almost always choose salami instead of pepperoni.  Truth be told here, I do lose that battle with my kids once in a while.

When I do, I'll admit I secretly love my pepperoni pizza!  I particularly love when the edges get crispy and fold up giving a little crunch to the salty spicy bite you are enjoying.  I also love how the pepperoni juice becomes part of the sauce of the pizza. When I have a pepperoni pizza I always remember why it's the number one topping in America.  It's good stuff.

So, what do you do when you have a pepperoni craving and no pepperoni?  You improvise!  I made some home made pepperoni one time and then had the idea to use those spices and seasonings to make up pepperoni flavored broccoli stalks.  *Link to recipe here.  Why stop with just broccoli stalks?  They were great, but let's give it a whirl with some zucchini I have sitting here.  For this pepperoni pizza, I also thought about gourmet-ing it up using "artisan pizza" ingredients.  Check it out...


The Zucchini Pepperoni

- 1-2 Zucchinis thinly sliced

- Olive Oil *Approx. 1-2 Tablespoons

- Rice Wine Vinegar  *Approx. 1/2 Tablespoon

- Paprika *Approx. 1 1/2 tablespoons

- Garlic Powder *Approx 1/2 Tablespoon

- Ground Red Pepper Flakes *Approx 1/2 Tablespoon

- Ground Mustard Seed *Approx 1/2 Tablespoon

- A little Cayenne Pepper

- Ground Black Pepper

- Salt

*Note:  I have been making this by "eye".  These amounts are approximate.  Start with less and add more of each as needed per your taste.  Mix it all together and taste one.  Adjust and taste again until you have it where you like it.  I simplified this a little from my broccoli pepperoni where I used a few more ingredients.  *LINK

Slice the zucchini.  Add the olive oil and spices and mix.

Saute them in a pan, or in the oven for a few minutes to get them on their way.  They will finish on the pizza.  Set aside.


To keep things interesting and not vegetarian ("Not that there's anything wrong with that!"), I slipped in some Italian and Andouille Sausage I had in the fridge!


A little sautéed Sausage, Mushroom and Red Onion for good measure:

- Olive Oil

- Chopped Garlic

- Sausage broken into bits

- Sliced Mushrooms

- Chopped Red Onions

- Salt and Pepper to taste

Place in the oven, or in a pan and sauté until the sausage is just cooked through.  Leave a little room for it to continue to cook on your pizza.  The mushrooms and onions will also cook down, but have something left for the bake on the pizza.


This Zucchini Pepperoni Pizza:

- Your favorite Pizza Dough - It better be one of Peter's recipes!

- Olive Oil

- Peter's crushed tomato sauce

- Grated Mozzarella

- A little sliced fresh mozzarella

- Sauteed Pepperoni Zucchini

- Sauteed Sausage, Mushrooms and Onions

- Chopped Italian Parsley to finish



Spread your dough

Cover with the tomato sauce and grated mozz

Layer with a little of the S-M-O mixture and the pepperoni zucchini slices

Tear some of the fresh mozzarella to add a little creaminess to the cheese. *I love the way the hard mozzarella blends with the softer fresh mozzarella giving it two textures and a creamy milkiness you don't get with just grated mozzarella.

Into the oven.  In this case, I was using my Primavera WFO.  Writing this I can smell the wood and smoke as the pizza began to come to life in there!  In a few turns in the oven, about 90 seconds and a lift into the dome this pizza is ready to go.


Tasting notes:

The savory sausage and mushrooms went nicely with the juicy spicy zucchini pepperoni on this pie. There's also a subtle milkiness that the soft mozzarella brings through the cheese layers giving balance to the toppings and sauce.




Five Cheese Pizza
Peter Reinhart

Scott Thorsen was my wing man at the Fire Within Conference in Boulder last October. Together, we mixed and shaped enough dough to crank out over 200 pizzas during the weekend, and we managed to save a few Country Doughs for this video demo. Scott, who has his own wood-fired rig in Sacramento, California, and a pizza and catering business that he runs out of the rig called Bella Familia, ably backed up all the presenters at the conference by doing much of the prep work and a lot of the heavy lifting. So, I wanted to give him a chance to get in front of the camera before he headed home and show us his pizzaiolo prowess. In this video




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