Pizza is Italian in origin, but this humble flatbread has captured the attention of the entire planet, and in every country where it’s eaten it’s tailored to the cultural palate. Take, for example, Mexico’s ranchera pizza with beans and chorizo and India’s seek kebab pizza with spiced ground meat. Beneath the pepperoni, cheese, and tomato sauce that we have come to know and love in this country is a blank canvas–or dough–that’s primed for all sorts of culinary renditions. In contrast to the Italian approach, in the United States, just as in other parts of the world, many liberties have been taken with the creation of pizza.–Brigit Binns
LC No Pizza Stone? No Problem. Note
No pizza stone? No problem. When baking the meatballs, omit it. When baking your pizza, flip your largest cast-iron skillet upside down or, worst-case scenario, use a baking sheet. (Although surely you have some cast iron in your kitchen, yes? Have we taught you nothing?)
Special Equipment: Pizza stone (or large cast-iron skillet turned upside down)
Meatball Pizza Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 40 M
- 3 H, 30 M
- Makes one 12-inch pizza; serves 2 to 4
- For the meatballs
- 1 large slice stale white bread, crust removed
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 4 ounces ground veal or beef, very cold
- 3 ounces sweet or hot Italian sausage, very cold, casing removed
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
- 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the pizza
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for shaping and brushing
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 ball Semolina Pizza Dough, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup Simple Pizza Sauce
- 4 ounces whole-milk, low-moisture mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Make the meatballs
- 1. Place the bread and warm water in a bowl. Let stand, turning the bread occasionally to thoroughly moisten it, for 10 minutes.
- 2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Squeeze the bread gently to remove some–actually, most–of the water. Discard the water. Tear the bread into 1-inch chunks and toss them into a large bowl. Add the veal or beef, sausage, garlic, parsley, egg white, half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste and mix thoroughly with moistened hands. Form the meat mixture into 10 balls. Place the meatballs on the baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
- 3. Place a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 450°F (232°C). Let the pizza stone heat for 45 to 60 minutes.
- 4. Remove the plastic wrap from the meatballs and place the baking sheet directly on the pizza stone. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let the meatballs cool slightly and then cut each one in half.
- Make the pizza
- 5. Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium heat, warm the 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the onion, season lightly with salt, and sauté until softened, about 8 minutes.
- 6. Place a large sheet of parchment paper on a pizza peel or baking sheet turned upside down and place the ball of dough in the center. Coat your fingers with olive oil and press the dough from the center outward into a 12-inch round with a slightly raised edge. (If the dough springs back when you try to shape it, cover it with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest for a few minutes, then try again.) Patience is the key here, as the thinner the dough is, the crisper the crust will be. Cover the finished dough round with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 15 minutes.
- 7. Lightly brush the raised edge of the dough with olive oil. Spread the tomato sauce over the dough, leaving a 1⁄2-inch border uncovered. Scatter the onion over the sauce. Arrange the halved meatballs on top. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and season to taste with pepper. Carefully slide the pizza-topped parchment paper from the peel or baking sheet onto the hot pizza stone (or overturned cast-iron skillet). Bake until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling, 9 to 12 minutes.
- 8. Using the pizza peel or baking sheet, remove the pizza from the oven and transfer it to a cutting board. Let stand for 2 minutes, sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano, and then slice and serve.
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Testers ChoiceTesters Choice
Apr 24, 2012
As I was making the dough, I wasn’t too sure about how it would come out, but once the pizza was all done, every single person in this house absolutely loved it. The crust is much lighter than the usual pizza dough, but it is tasty and very crispy. The meatballs were amazingly tasty and perfect on the pizza, but I must say, they were just as good on their own. The tomato sauce was such a hit that everyone asked me to start using this one instead of the typical one I use. This is definitely a recipe to make often, as it was 100% approved by both adults and children.
Apr 24, 2012
This is a fun and very delicious pizza to make. The recipe works great as written and produces a really cool looking pizza. Using a blend of hot Italian sausage and ground beef made the meatballs really sing. I did raise an eyebrow at soaking a slice of bread in water, wringing it out, and adding it to the meatball mixture, but there were no soggy clumps of bread in the finished meatballs. The simple tomato sauce is truly simple to make and comes out silky but not overpowering in flavor. We did purchase dough from our favorite pizzeria to make things go a bit quicker. The pizza came off without a hitch. This could become a new Friday evening tradition around my house.
Apr 24, 2012
All of the different parts of this recipe were easy to make and created a very good finished product. The Semolina Dough was very nice, I loved the Simple Tomato Sauce, and the meatballs were also very good. I was very impressed with baking the meatballs on a sheet pan placed on top of the pizza stone that had been in a very hot oven for an hour. The bottoms of the meatballs were wonderfully caramelized, yielding great flavor. Next time I’ll turn the meatballs halfway through the baking, so that they are browned on the other side also. I also really liked the idea of using the parchment paper to get the pizza on and off of the pizza stone. We have had many a pizza lose its toppings, as well as its shape, while trying to get those pizzas on and off of the peel. All in all, a very nice recipe, which also gave us techniques that we’ll use for other dishes.
Apr 24, 2012
This was a very delicious pizza, and the crust was very tasty and crisp because of the semolina. The meatballs were very tender, and I loved the tomato sauce and the amount of cheese. This was easy to assemble, as most of the steps could be done ahead of time. I found it very meaty, but indeed it is a meatball pizza. The next time I might add some veggies and reduce the meat.
Meatball Pizza Recipe © 2008 Brigit Binns. Photo © 2008 David Matheson. All rights reserved.