Pizza Challenge: Pizza Cubana with Beer Bread Crust and Honey Mustard Drizzle

If there’s one dinner my whole family agrees on, it’s pizza, BUT I have to confess:  I had never made pizza completely from scratch before this.  Sure, I’ve bought those ready baked crusts and gone to town, but I’ve never made my own crust…and I don’t bake…EVER.  So when Erika came up with this pizza challenge I sent her an email; the subject line of said email was “evil.” Being the good friend that she is, E offered to take out the homemade crust element or supply me with a homemade crust recipe, but I decided to have some fun trying something new.  If you’ve never made homemade pizza before, I highly suggest that you have fun trying something new, too.  It turned out GREAT, original crust recipe by a non-baker and all.  This recipe is a riff on a cuban sandwich, which is something that I enjoy and something that has relatively kid friendly ingredients.  I think this recipe illustrates one of the truly great things about making your own pizza:  the only limit is your imagination!  Enjoy!!!

Pizza Cubana with Beer Bread Crust and Honey Mustard

Yields 2 approx. 14″ pizzas

Ingredients

Pizza Crust-

1 pkg. of active dry yeast

1 cup of warm water (not too hot)

1 12 oz. bottle of cold beer – pale ale is good

2 tbsp. of  extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp. of honey

1 tsp. of kosher salt

5 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

Pizza Sauce-

1/3 cup of your favorite all natural pre-prepped salsa

1/3 cup of your favorite all natural pre-prepped BBQ sauce

Honey Mustard Drizzle-

2 tbsp. of mayo

2 tbsp. of dijon mustard

2 tsp. of honey

1 tbsp. of yellow mustard

Toppings-

1 1/2 cups of shredded pork (without sauce of any kind)

1 tsp. of garlic powder

1 tsp. of cumin

1/2 tsp. of chili powder

1/4 tsp. of cinnamon

1/2 tsp. of kosher salt (if pork is relatively unsalted)

extra virgin olive oil for brushing the crust

4 cups of monterey jack cheese, shredded

2 crispy kosher dill pickles, sliced (I like Bubbe’s kosher dills)

2 tbsp. of very thinly sliced shallots

Method

This type of crust has to rise for a little while, so mix it up first!  Pour the whole packet of  yeast into the cup of warm water and stir gently.  Let this mixture sit for five minutes.  Meanwhile, place the cold beer, the 2 tbsp. of olive oil, the honey, and the salt into a medium sized bowl and whisk to combine.  Measure 5 1/4 cups of flour into a large mixing bowl, and stir with a fork to separate.  Add the beer mixture and the yeast mixture (when the 5 minutes are up, of course) to the flour, then mix with a dough hook (I don’t have a stand mixer, but my hand mixer worked okay) until the dough comes together.  Once the dough has come together place it on a very well floured surface (this stuff is super sticky), flour your hands, and knead it for a minute or so to make sure it is evenly combined.  Then add another 1/4 cup of flour and knead until the dough feels smooth and elastic – this will probably take about 5 minutes.  Divide the dough into 2 parts (for 2 pizzas) and place each dough ball into an oiled bowl.   Allow the dough balls to rise in a warm place for about an hour.

While the dough is rising you can work on the sauce, the honey mustard drizzle, and the pork.  For the sauce:  mix the salsa and the BBQ sauce in a measuring cup.  That’s it.  Couldn’t be any easier.  For the honey mustard:   place the mayo, dijon, honey, and yellow mustard in a small bowl and use a fork to whisk it together.  For the pork:  place the shredded pork in a small mixing bowl and add the garlic powder, the cumin, the chili powder, the cinnamon, and the kosher salt  (the salt is only as needed; if the meat you’re using is salty enough don’t add it-the meat I used was blank slate, it had very little seasoning).  Toss the pork with the spices until it is well coated.

Once you’ve done these steps, set the sauce, honey mustard and pork aside until the dough has finished rising.  When the dough has about 10-15 minutes left to rise, pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees.  As soon as the dough is ready, you are ready for pizza assembly.  First, oil your pizza pan(s).  Take the first dough ball and stretch or roll it to about 14″ and place it on the pizza pan.  Brush the top of the dough with a little extra virgin olive oil.  Now spread 1/3 cup of the sauce over the dough.  Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese over the sauce.  Add the pork and sliced pickles.  Sprinkle another 1/2 cup of shredded cheese over the toppings.  Sprinkle 1 tbsp. of the thinly sliced shallots on top.   Bake the pizza at 450 degrees for about 14 minutes.

Repeat the pizza assembly and baking steps with the second dough ball.

Once the pizzas are out of the oven, slice them into eight sizes (or not) and drizzle the slices with the honey mustard.  The best way to do the drizzle is with a squirt bottle, but if you don’t want to get fancy or don’t have a squirt bottle, just smear it on with the tines of a fork.

Enjoy!!!

In case you were wondering

Why does the cup of water have to be warm?  In this step you are proofing the yeast, which are little live beasties.  Proofing basically means waking them up and making sure that they are still kicking.  If the water is too hot, you will kill them.  If the water is too cold, they might just stay inactive.

What if I tear the crust?  Don’t worry about it.  This crust is pretty hard to mess up.  I tore mine a few times and it was not perfectly even.  I just patched the tears together and carried on.  Mine turned out fine and so will yours.

Why do the shallots have to go on top?  So that the heat from the oven will caramelize them and they will have a delicious sweet flavor and not a raw onion flavor.  By the way, if you can’t find good looking shallots, you could use red onion slices but they need to be very thin.  Fourteen minutes is not enough time to caramelize big, fat slices of onion.  They will taste raw.

Pickles on pizza?  Really???  Yes, really.   Try it.  You’re gonna like it.

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