Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Crazy Crust Pizza

Somewhere out there must be a federal manual, dry as dust and bearing a bunch of random numbers as a title, devoted to school cafeteria recipes.

How else to explain that so many of us remember the same dishes from our school days, despite the fact that we grew up in far-flung locations? Carol Sanford's kids lived for the thick, meaty pizza squares served at San Martin School. Bob from Campbell says he and his brother and sister would pester his parents a week in advance, wanting to buy lunch on an upcoming pizza day at Soquel and Capitola elementary schools. And I remember the same slightly greasy, hefty pizza squares from my school days in Tennessee.

''It made your day just light up to eat that wonderful pizza, so tasty and so filling that I can't even remember what else even came on the food tray along with it,'' Bob says.

He thinks a dish called ''Crazy Crust Pizza'' from a Pillsbury cookbook comes close. The recipe makes a 12-inch round pizza, but I think the recipe would work in a 13-by-9-inch pan as well, since the two pans hold a similar amount.

1 1/2 lb. ground beef or sausage or 1 c. thinly sliced pepperoni sausage
1 c. Pillsbury's Best all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Italian seasoning or leaf oregano
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 eggs
2/3 c. milk
Meat mixture
1/4 c. chopped onion, if desired
1 (4 oz.) can well-drained mushroom stems and pieces, if desired
1 c. pizza sauce
1 c. (4 oz.) shredded Mozzarella cheese
If using Pillsbury's Best self-rising flour, omit salt.

If desired, use 1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce, 1 to 2 teaspoons leaf oregano and 1/4 teaspoon pepper as a substitute for the pizza sauce.

In medium skillet, brown ground beef or sausage, seasoning to taste. (No need to brown pepperoni.) Drain well. Set aside. Lightly grease and dust with flour or cornmeal 14 or 12-inch pizza pan or 10x15 inch jelly roll pan.

Prepare batter. (No need to sift flour; measure by lightly spooning into cup and leveling off.) In small bowl, combine flour, salt, Italian seasoning, pepper, eggs and milk, mixing until smooth.

Pour batter into pan; tilting pan so batter covers bottom. Arrange Topping of meat, onion and well-drained mushrooms over batter. Bake on low rack in oven at 425 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until pizza is deep golden brown. (Deep brown gives a crisp crust.) Remove from oven; drizzle with pizza sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Return to oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

TIP: For 9x13 inch pan, use 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning or leaf oregano, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, 1 egg and 2/3 cup milk for batter. Top with 3/4 pound browned ground beef or sausage or 1/2 cup thinly sliced pepperoni sausage; 2 tablespoons chopped onion, if desired; 1 (2 oz.) can well-drained mushroom stems and pieces, if desired. Prepare and bake as directed above. Top with 2/3 cup pizza sauce and 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese. Bake as directed.

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