Monks and Devils: Pizza Diavolo
Pizza Diavolo, Father Dominic's Way
I loved the old CBS News bit Everyone Has a Story. Correspondent Steve Hartman would head off to wherever in America the dart landed, flip through a phone book in a booth with his eyes closed, plop his pointer finger down on any old name, and pay a visit. His premise was that everyone has a story, and I remember several times his difficulty in explaining to the questioning soul clutching the door knob that, yes, s/he too had a story, and convincing her/him to share it. I'd always end up with tears in my eyes, and the intense feeling that people are so amazingly cool.
For most of us, we don't get to do the absolutely random dart throw/ road trip/ meet someone new, but that doesn't mean that interesting people don't cross our paths with frequency. Because, under this premise, everyone we come across is interesting.
But some people are extraordinarily interesting. Take for example, my new acquaintance, Father Dominic Garramone. Papa Dom, as his students at St. Bede's Academy call him, is a playwright, herb gardener, a former PBS cooking show host. And, the author of seven cookbooks, including his latest, Thursday Night Pizza.
I've never known a Benedictine monk before. A Benedictine monk who promotes devilishly good pizza, no less. Check this out. Look for the first very jolly man you see, and it will be Father Dom.
Diavolo (Italian for devil) generally refers to food made fiery with chile peppers, cayenne, or other forms of pepper. In Father Dominic's Pizza Diavolo, peppery heat shows up not only in a little hot pepper sauce added to his flavorful 8-minute Pizza Sauce and a topping of jalepenos, but also in his homemade Hot Italian Sausage. Homemade sausage, dear reader! I had put sausage making in the category of ketchup-making... Why go to the trouble when you can purchase a quite decent product? Make this sausage, and you'll know why. Father's Dominic's delicious and trouble-free recipe takes literally 5 minutes to put together. There is no excuse to ever buy Italian sausage again!
You also know that after decades of experimentation, I'm quite proud of my pizza crust. So proud that I had difficulty budging off of it to try Father Dominic's Basic American Style Pizza Crust recipe. Life is too short to eat even one crummy pizza crust, but I jumped in and did it his way. Absolutely no disappointment whatsoever. We baked half of the dough, froze the other half, and the following week it thawed and performed as wonderfully a second time.
I heartily endorse Thursday Night Pizza with its three crust recipes, ten sauces and a myriad of pizza combos. I even suspect that recipes from this book, like Muffaleta Pizza and Denver Diner Pizza will taste at least as good on our traditional pizza Fridays as it does on St. Bede's Thursday night haustus. And I doubt that Father Dominic will argue with me that in this case, perhaps Diavolo should just be translated to mean "full of personality" instead of full of the devil.
Hot Italian Sausage
From Thursday Night Pizza by Fr. Dominic Garramone, O. S. B.
1 lb. ground pork
2 teaspoons Italian herb blend
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
Mix in a bowl, cover, refrigerate until ready to use.
Father Dominic recommends browning this sausage before putting it atop the pizza. I dropped pinches of the sausage mixture into a lightly olive-oiled skillet over medium heat for several minutes until the pink was gone. I also followed Father Dominic's advice and crushed the spices together in a pestle before adding to the pork. He also recommends grinding them in a spice grinder as an alternative.
Our local Palotai Winery Dolcetto is a pizza night favorite, and was a hit with the Pizza Diavolo.