For someone who lives so close to NYC (and whose tastebuds have been blessed with the presence of truly amazing pizza many, many times throughout her life), I am shockingly yet unabashedly not a pizza purist. That’s not to say that I believe all crusts are created equal, nor that toppings should be piled on with reckless abandon. But despite my love for the New York style plain slice, I sometimes like to inject a little adventure into my pizza. I like a crazy combination here and there. I like pan pizza or thin-crust when the time is right. And most recently, I realized that I really like Pizza Bowls.
Up until last week, I had no clue that such a thing existed. And then, in a twist of fate, I stumbled across an article about Chicago Pizza Oven & Co’s claim to fame: Pizza Pot Pies. The Pizza Pot Pie ingredients are stacked up in a bowl, topped with dough, baked, flipped, and then released with a spoon to reveal a cheesy, saucy, meaty mound of pizza toppings resting in a bowl of golden crust. You’re drooling, right? I absolutely was. I couldn’t make it out to Chicago immediately to try one myself, so I decided to do the next best thing– make my own at home.
I decided to rename mine “Pizza Bowls” because they remind me much more of a pizza twist on those soup-filled bread bowls than they do pot pies. “Pizza Bowls” has a nice ring to it, right? It’s one of those names that makes your stomach rumble before you’re even exactly sure what it means.
I decided to keep the Pizza Bowl ingredients relatively simple so that I could make them on a weeknight, but didn’t sacrifice flavor in the process. While I prefer to whip up some ultra-quick tomato sauce myself, the jarred stuff would be a fine substitute if you prefer or have it on hand. Conversely, if you really want to make this recipe a labor of love, feel free to make your own pizza dough from scratch. I’ve found that refrigerated, pre-made dough works great for me!
Want to see the Pizza Bowl making process in action? Check it out below.
This recipe is also highly customizable, so don’t hesitate to switch out the sausage for some mushrooms if you want a vegetarian version, or to use wheat dough instead for your crust. Really, once you understand the basic steps, you can make all kinds of pizza creations. However you wind up putting them together, don’t forget to take a picture of the finished product and tag #hostthetoast on Instagram or Twitter to show it off. Beware, though, people will ask you to cook for them once they see that you’re cranking these out in your kitchen!
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small onion, grated
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped, plus additional leaves to top
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage meat
- Olive oil, for brushing
- 10 slices provolone cheese, cut into halves
- 10 slices mozzarella cheese, cut into halves
- 1 pound refrigerated pizza dough
- Crushed red pepper flakes, to top, optional
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add in the grated onion and cook until slightly browned. Add in the garlic, cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, and then add in the tomaatoes, basil, salt, oregano, and sugar. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes.
- In a separate pan, break apart and cook the sausage. Add the crumbles to the prepared tomato sauce, mix well, and set aside.
- Liberally brush the insides of 4 small, oven-safe bowls or large ramekins with olive oil. Layer 5 halves of provolone cheese and 5 halves of mozzarella cheese in each bowl. Divide the sauce and sausage mixture evenly amongst the 4 bowls and set aside.
- Lightly flour a flat surface and place the pizza dough on top. Cut into 4 even pieces. Pull and pinch the edges of the dough pieces to the bottom of the dough to create dough balls. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let rise for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Brush the outsides of the bowls with oil.
- Gently stretch the edges of each dough ball to create large, flat disks. Stretch the disks over the bowls to cover the filling, leaving about an inch of dough hanging over the edges. Press the dough along the side of the bowls to seal.
- Transfer the dough-covered bowls to a baking sheet, leaving plenty of room in between for the dough to expand as it cooks. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes.
- Remove the Pizza Bowls from the oven and brush with additional olive oil. Let cool for 2 minutes.
- Using pot holders, flip the Pizza Bowls onto plates. Run a spoon between the edge of the bowl and the crust to help release it. Twist and pull out the bowl. Use the spoon to scoop out the cheese, if necessary.
- Top with fresh basil and crushed red pepper flakes. Serve immediately.
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