Recipe of the Week: Long Island-style Grandma Pie topped with sausage, broccoli rabe
Not everybody's grandma made pizza, but if you have spent any time on Long Island, you might have heard of grandma pie.
This rustic, square pizza has origins at pizzerias in New York, some say as the easy-to-bake pie that restaurants would bake for their staff. Others claim that this is the pizza that Italian immigrants would make either when they were in a hurry or didn't have an oven or a pizza peel. Most agree that the cheese goes on the dough first followed by the sauce and remaining toppings. No matter where the name came from or the specifics of how it's made, this style of pizza is a good option for baking at home when you're craving something cozy and don't want to order takeout.
This recipe from "Open Kitchen: Inspired Food for Casual Gatherings" by Susan Spungen (Avery, $35) was originally suggested as a way to serve a small crowd at, say, a New Year's Eve party, but since we're celebrating the new year during a pandemic, use this recipe as a way to make a meal for whoever's in your pod and plan for leftovers.
If you heat up those leftover slices in a cast-iron skillet or a toaster oven, they might even be tastier than the day you made it. You could also use two different sets of toppings on each half of the pie to keep it varied.
Grandma Pie with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage
I first became acquainted with the Grandma Pie, a Long Island specialty, on one of my many trips back and forth between New York City and my place on the eastern end of Long Island. I love pizza, so I was always tempted to stop about halfway home for a slice. The pizza was pretty average at this particular place, but still, it was pizza. One day they had grandma pie, and it was better than average and exactly what I wanted — a nice neat car snack — not too saucy and crisp on the bottom. I continued to ask for it on subsequent trips, but they rarely had it! A big pan of pizza is a great way to feed a family and have leftovers for the next day. If you have vegetarians, it’s easy to leave off the meat — you could substitute with well-roasted sliced shiitake mushrooms, which will lend a meatless note of umami.
A note: Making pizza dough a day (or two) before you need it is not only convenient, but it also allows for a slow rise and a chance for fermentation, which equals flavor. If, however, last-minute inspiration for pizza strikes, you can skip the refrigeration step and just let the dough rise until doubled at room temperature — it will take about 1 hour. You can also brown the sausage and cook the broccoli rabe ahead of time.
— Susan Spungen
For the dough:
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the bowl
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
For the pizza:
One 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, drained and broken up (cores removed and liquid discarded or saved for another use)
2 to 3 garlic cloves, chopped (1 heaping tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
6 fresh basil leaves
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
Red pepper flakes
10 ounces (4 links) hot Italian pork sausage, removed from casings (optional)
1 bunch broccoli rabe, thick stems removed
1/4 cup olive oil
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/4-inch thick and torn
To make the dough: In a large liquid measuring cup, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Stir in the sugar and oil. Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix briefly to combine, then slowly pour in the yeast mixture on low speed until well combined. Mix for about 5 minutes on medium speed, until smooth. Use a bowl scraper to ease the dough into a ball, and transfer to a smaller well-oiled bowl. Turn it a few times to make sure the dough and the sides of the bowl are all well-oiled. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or see note above about making it right away.
To make the pizza: In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, garlic, oregano, basil and salt and season with red pepper flakes. Set aside.
Heat a large (12-inch) nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until no longer pink, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Meanwhile, wash the broccoli rabe. Drain the broccoli rabe (but not very well; you want it to be dripping wet). Add it to the pan and increase the heat to high. Season lightly with salt and cover. Cook for 2 minutes, tossing once or twice. Remove with tongs to a plate and drain off any extra liquid.
About 1 hour before you want to assemble the pizza, remove the dough from the refrigerator.
Heat the oven to 500 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, place it on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat it, too. Pour the oil into a 13-inch-by-18-inch rimmed baking sheet and spread the dough in the pan. If it pulls back, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes. Spread the dough to fill the entire pan.
Sprinkle on the cheese, followed by the sauce, and then the broccoli rabe and sausage. Place on the pizza stone or bottom rack of the oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until crisp on the bottom and browned on the edges. Cut into squares and serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10.
— From "Open Kitchen: Inspired Food for Casual Gatherings" by Susan Spungen (Avery, $35)