[Recipe] A Niman Ranch Pizza 20 Years in the Sausage-Making

We fancy sausage. Italian sausage. With peppers and onions. And some mozzarella and sauce too!

When it comes to sausage-making, we are all eyes if the link is Niman Ranch.  Over the years we have gotten to know Sarah Willis and her humanely and sustainably-raised beef, lamb and pork at Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink and most recently Genuine Pizza® and Harry’s Pizzeria®.  We believe so strongly in Willis’ mission that we made a commitment last year to exclusively source all our pizzerias’ pork and beef from Niman Ranch and have since then rolled out new menu items like Italian Sausage Pizza so our guests have more ways to enjoy them.  On special occasions, we are able to experience the roots of where it all began in person and reaffirm why we do what we do in the first place.  Next month we will have another such opportunity at the 20th annual Hog Farmer Appreciation Dinner celebrating the farmers living Niman Ranch’s mission on the ground with a feast cooked by a handful of its favorite supportive chefs.

Click here to watch culinary assistant Brandon Green make the sausage pie shine at Genuine Pizza Aventura.

“When I was first invited to visit the original Willis family farm and cook at the 2011 hog farmer appreciation dinner, going there and seeing where it all started that was the ah ha moment for me,” Michael explains. “We work really hard to operate our restaurants and create experiences for guests – and take care of our people. It’s all consuming. When we can get out and make a personal connection it really is everything, especially having enjoyed working with their ingredients for so long and in so many different ways.”

From September 6-9, Michael, Brad and I will make a trip to Iowa for a weekend of activities that connect the dots between source and recipient culminating in Saturday’s feast, a collaboration with chefs including Cal Peternell, Andrea Reusing, Ann Kim, Charles Phan and Todd Fisher.  Follow along on the Michael’s Genuine Instagram for an inside look at the people and the place that makes us feel good about this Italian Sausage Pizza in more ways than just taste.  Make it at home or enjoy it at a Genuine Pizza or Harry’s Pizzeria near you!

Italian Sausage Pizza with Peppers & Onions, Tomato Sauce & Mozzarella

Makes 1, 12-inch pizza

1 ball Pizza Dough (recipe follows)
1/4 cup tomato sauce (use your favorite)
4 oz mozzarella cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup sliced roasted red bell pepper
1/4 cup yellow onions, sautéed until translucent
1/2 cup Niman Ranch Italian Sausage, sliced 1/2-inch thick on the bias

Pre-heat the oven to 500F.

Place pizza stone or baking pan on the middle rack and preheat it along with the oven for at least a good 20 minutes.

To prepare 1, 12-inch pizza, dip the ball of dough into a little flour, shake off the excess, and put the dough on a clean, lightly floured surface. Stretch the dough with your hands, turning the ball as you press down the center. Continue spreading the dough into a 12-inch circle either with your hands or a rolling pin. Leave the dough slightly thick so the topping does not seep through. Dust a pizza paddle (if you don’t have a paddle you can use a rimless cookie sheet as a substitute) with flour and slide it under the pizza dough; it’s easiest to top the pizza with the dough already on the paddle. Using the back of a large spoon, and starting from the center and spiraling your way out, distribute the tomato sauce in a thin, even layer. You want to see some of the dough peeking through. Sprinkle the mozzarella on top, then the peppers and onions and finally the sausage. Slide the prepared pizza onto the hot pizza stone or baking sheet and bake until the crust is properly browned, about 10 minutes. Check the bottom of the pizza to make sure it has been cooked properly—it should be rich brown and burnished. Transfer the pizza to a cutting board and cut into slices. Serve immediately.

Pizza Dough

Makes enough dough for 4, 12-inch pizzas

½ cup (120 ml) beer, such as lager or pilsner, at room temperature
2 tablespoons mild honey
1 (1/4 ounces/7 g) packet active dry yeast
3 cups plus 6 tablespoons (455 g) bread flour, plus more for stretching the dough
1/3 cup (40 g) whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the bowl

In a small bowl combine the beer and honey with 1 cup (240 ml) room temperature water. The beer will foam a great deal when being poured into the measuring up, so let the foam subside before adding more liquid to get to the right volume. Sprinkle the yeast over the liquid and stir gently to dissolve. Let the mixture stand until it starts to foam, 5 to 10 minutes.

In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine both types of flour and the salt. With the mixer running on low speed, add the oil, then the yeast mixture, increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl, 3 to 5 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead by hand for 1 to 2 minutes. The dough should pretty sticky and stick to your hands and the counter. It should leave behind a sticky trail; if you think the dough is a bit too wet, it is probably just perfect. Gather the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl; turn it over to coat with the oil. Cover the dough with a clean, damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

Gently punch down the dough, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in the refrigerator overnight and for up to 48 hours. (You can start the dough the night before you plan to make the pizza.)

Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a clean, lightly floured counter and knead gently for a few minutes. Divide the dough into 4 equal balls, about 8 ounces (225 g) each—the size of large tangerines. Roll the ball under the palm of your hand until the top of the dough is smooth and firm. Use immediately or wrap the dough balls individually in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 2 weeks. If using right away, lightly dust the dough with four, and cover with plastic wrap to prevent the dough from drying out. Let the dough come to room temperature, for about 1 hour, before using.

A Little Lechon & Wine Pairing Competition? Amara Sommelier Amanda Fraga is all Cheers

Fraga in her element at Amara!

Amanda Fraga is no stranger to competition.  For the third consecutive year, our now sommelier at Amara at Paraiso has been invited to participate in Cochon 555, the heritage hog, chef and wine professional bout of brains, brawn and creative brilliance.  This is great news of course, since we get to come along for the ride not only at the event, but for the training in preparation which we found is just as strategic and mind bending as it is for their culinary counterparts. Amanda’s mission: select any wine she’d like, unhindered by sponsorship obligations, that will pair best with the presentation plates of each of the 5 chef candidates.  Yes, here’s the catch. She won’t know the dishes her wine needs to work with until she’s vying for attention to pour it amidst her four peers.

“For me, my job lies in how I figure out where my wine can be highlighted on the playing field and how I can get these judges to try it with what I think on the fly it will work best with. Under the clock, of course,” she explains.  “You want to pick a pig-friendly wine that will play well with an array of dishes.  It has to be versatile, but to a large extent you are playing the odds.  What you can control, you try to.”

It’s all timed.  Every 10 minutes, the pack of judges descends on each station and systematically hears the chef’s point of view for their offering, tastes through the dishes and also is approached by the sommeliers, who are also judges of the competition.  Everyone has an agenda and everyone votes on everything.

“I try to not stand next to the same people the whole time, and it’s not easy because the focus is on the pig and the chef,” Fraga continues. “I haven’t won yet, but I do think it’s important to find something in your approach that’s memorable.”

Fraga decided to pick a Cava in méthode Champenoise — Juvé y Camps “Brut Nature” Reserva de la Familia. This is the real, old school deal, a grower Cava from a family-owned house making wine since the 1700s.  When a Juvé married a Camps in the early 20th century, this sparkling was born.  A 40th anniversary edition, the Reserva has two years age and is made from the Spanish grapes traditional to its sparkling wine. It is bright with a little green apple but with some gravitas and toastiness thanks to the time in the bottle.

“Even the label is super classic,” she notes.  “It is even rumored that Dom borrowed the shape. The family cares about tradition and have kept the label.  Chefs are so visual, and this is the OG. I also wanted to honor the heritage aspect of what Cochon is all about.”

Clearly Fraga’s not concerned about showing her hand which is one of the many reasons we love her.  To support our fearless super somm and to partake in the pigging, grab tickets to the main event in Miami on June 10, with winners advancing to Grand Conchon finale, here.

Chef Ravi Kapur Has One Serious Poke Face

Ravi Kapur has strong feelings about poke. As he should.

“In Hawaii it’s kind of… Well, it’s really a treat,” Ravi explains. “It’s not this mass-consumed, everyday thing necessarily, because really poke should be pretty expensive if you’re using high quality fish. For me growing up, it’s a celebratory thing.”

At now 3 year-old Liholiho Yacht Club in San Francisco, this Oahu-born chef not only takes inspiration from his Hawaiian-Chinese-Indian roots, he takes them quite seriously.   Right off the bat this was pretty clear, even as we stole just few minutes in between phone tag on Wednesday.  There’s a sense of responsibility that informs his approach.  I have neither been to Hawaii nor eaten in his restaurant, but I have read Kapur is a chef-owner known for his cool, collected demeanor in the kitchen.  Schwartz had a great meal there. I get the feeling this attitude is an expression of the strength of his intention, to cook with principle and represent his culture correctly and with confidence.

Fresh fish, the best fish. From @liholihoyachtclub’s Instagram.

This means something to Kapur, that he stand for something and that his expression is one true to his identity as a Hawaiian.  We can relate to this — MS also stands for something, and akin to that.  It’s about quality and doing it right, or not at all.  This is in part why I began our conversation with poke. To poke a nerve.  With the relentless stream of DIY, paint-by-numbers, flavor-of-the-moment poke shops UberEatsing on my Miami doorstep, it’s also hard to ignore.

“The most important element for me is that the fish is extremely fresh and you let that flavor shine without covering it up with too many seasonings,” he continues. “The traditional version would not have soy sauce.  It would be Hawaiian salt, and sweet onion, and inamona or ground kukui nut.

From there he explains it can be embellished, which is fine, with a measured hand, as with most things. Seaweed, sure.  Still no seasoning though. You take this highly perishable product and then need to mask it when it’s inferior.  Often, when it’s about preserving meat or fish, something common all over the world to extend a product’s lifespan — typically out of necessity — it can be quite good.  But it’s transformed.  It’s no longer the thing it was.  For true poke, if you are using good quality there’s just no way it even can be mass produced — which is basically the benchmark for what my exposure has been to date, fast casual-style.  It becomes more about what you are putting on it, than what it is.

“I popped in one day to one of these places, because I’m interested in how they operate, how it flows,” Ravi explains.  “I understand the model, how this came to exist, but I’ll never do it because it’s in direct conflict to what I believe poke is.  I can’t wrap my head around culturally appropriating things for profit.  You won’t find sesame oil in traditional poke. I use some, but for me it’s always going to be all about the fish.”

The fish is Ahi traditionally, but now you can find all types, like Striped Marlin and large bill fish. It’s more sustainable too.  Ravi admits he just got back from Maui, and even there, there is a range of quality. Previously frozen… unknown origins at the supermarket. The place he goes to now, Kaohu store, will run you about $17, 18, 19  a pound.

“To me I taste the difference,” he adds.  “And you can see the fish.  It’s undressed.”

I don’t know about you, but I need my own #alohafloorselfie moment.

Ravi won’t know what species will greet him when he walks into Michael’s Genuine® on Thursday February 22, but he knows it will be fresh and that will produce the best first course on the plate whether it’s Cobia, Golden Tile or Little Tuny.  And there’s pork too, another ingredient that connects our food cultures.

“Absolutely. It’s pretty much pork all the time,” Ravi says.  “In the late 1800s, ranching formed a big part of the economy but beef is more expensive.  Pork is for everyone and it can be great and flavorful – it just depends on the pig and who’s raising it.  I’m doing something off the shoulder.  I like roasting those cuts and still having a little bite to it, so you can taste the meat. Some accents, of course, like chili honey rub for a little sweetness and spice.  I don’t think I told anybody, but I’m also bringing something else with me.”

We’re not giving that one away.  You, co-guest chef Derek Damman and hosts Michael and Tim will just have to squirm.  Now isn’t that cause for celebration? And some poke!  Find out for yourself.  For tickets and menu, visit sobefest.org/michaels.

Pumpkin Spice… Bacon? Hinckley’s Fancy Meats Trunk Show Rolls into Michael’s Genuine® Next Tuesday

Packing The Charcuterie Box for shipment. Duck Ham, Bacon Liverwurst, Tasso, Antelope Sausage, Duck Rillette, Spuma di lardo, country pate, head cheese terrine.

Pumpkin Spice Bacon What.

The best wurst, handled with care.  After hitting his Kickstarter funding goal of $25K to take Hinckley’s Fancy Meats to the next level with nationwide shipping, chef/owner Matt Hinckley is rolling up a Yeti cooler full of his Florida-sourced and cured heritage product to Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink so we can have a taste of the goods.  Join us at MGFD on Tuesday, October 17 for Happy Hour beginning at 4:30 p.m., then Dinner from 5:30-11 p.m. as Matt pops special dishes onto the MGFD menu a la carte, with select charcuterie available for purchase to take home.  Reservations (305.573.5550) and walk-ins welcome!

DISHES

Charcuterie Plate hunter’s terrine. bacon liverwurst. duck rillette. fancy mustard. crostini.
BBQ Spare Ribs charred scallions.
Wood Oven Roasted Pumpkin hinckley’s fancy bacon. goat cheese. brown butter vinaigrette. sage.
Meatlover’s Pizza florida ham. hinckley’s fancy bacon. tasso. fontina. arugula.
Rabbit & Smoked Pig Head Roulade pickled veggies. bitter greens.

TRUNK SHOW MEATS 

Pumpkin Spice Bacon $17/lb.
Grass Fed Sirloin Steaks $26/lb.
Mexican Chorizo $14/lb.
Wild Boar Breakfast Sausage $15/lb.
Grass Fed Bacon Burger $14/lb
Duck Hams (2 ea.) $10
Tasso (2 ea.) $14
Smoked Antelope Sausage $17/lb.
Bone Broth $4/pt.

Meatballing the right way!

Matt makes seasonal creations and limited runs, like Holiday Hams (make your holiday gift list now, people!) and what is this about Pumpkin Spice Bacon in his Butcher CSA Subscription and also shipping nationwide (free for orders over $150 with coupon code FREE SHIPPING)?  A whole applewood and cinnamon bark smoked slab of it would make you some friends.  If this isn’t familiar enough, there are plenty of offerings crafted with the home cook in mind like Meatball Mix made with Central Florida beef raised on grass pasture mixed with fresh pork and HFM pancetta. Make meatball sandwiches, put it in pasta, or stuff some veggies.  It’s incredible to see this fledgling Orlando-based nose-to-tail butcher shop getting it done with a new nationwide marketplace. Now you can have access to the same quality ingredients for your kitchen that chefs use in the best restaurants in the country and do your part in making a better and more transparent food system for everyone!

 

Niman Ranch and Harry’s Pizzeria® Double Down on Ingredients Raised with Care

Food we can feel good about is what it’s all about.  Today we are announcing a commitment to just that at Harry’s Pizzeria®, by sourcing meat raised sustainably and humanely in partnership with industry-leader Niman Ranch. As of this summer, all locations of Michael’s genuine brand of thoughtfully-made, better pizza exclusively feature responsibly-sourced beef and pork products from Niman Ranch on the menu in pizza toppings including hot soppressata, shredded pulled pork shoulder, braised short rib, meatballs and bacon, as well as beef sirloin as an entrée. It just tastes better this way.

“Harry’s is about much more than pizza,” Chef explains. “We are committed to building community and a genuine experience for our guests, and this is a perfect way for us to check all those boxes. It feels good to support independent American family farmers who raise their livestock without antibiotics or added hormones. Not only can we stand behind a product that is top quality and tastes amazing, but we’re able to work with a supplier that shares our passion for doing the right thing.”

You’re bacon me crazy.

A special snack, Short Rib Bomba with fontina and arugula, will be available at all locations for $7 from Tuesday, September 5 until Saturday, September 30.

To celebrate the introduction, Niman Ranch’s family farmer advocate, Sarah Willis, will co-host a family-style dinner with Chef Schwartz at the original Harry’s Pizzeria in the Miami Design District on Wednesday, September 27 at 7 pm, the restaurant’s 6th anniversary. Tickets are live for Harry’s Rancher Appreciation Dinner as of this morning through harryspizzeria.com/nimanranch for $89 all-inclusive for a welcome cocktail, 3-course menu, and beverage including unlimited tap beer and two wines poured by the bottle all night. The menu will be announced soon.

With more than 40 years as an industry leader, Niman Ranch is a community of more than 720 independent family farmers and ranchers who raise livestock traditionally, humanely and sustainably to deliver the finest-tasting meat. All Niman Ranch pork, beef, lamb and prepared products are certified under the Certified Humane® program and available nationwide at both food service and retail locations.

Over the years, our chefs have enjoyed working with the product.  We can recall many dishes showing up at Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink with lamb especially like Niman Ranch Lamb Flatbread with preserved meyer lemon, hummus, harissa, pine nuts, golden raisins, and French feta and Lamb Stuffed Eggplant wood roasted and topped with local heirloom tomato, greek yogurt, and pistachios. Niman Ranch beef made our then restaurant in Grand Cayman’s burger one of the most sought after menu items on island.  Michael has also traveled to Iowa for its annual Hog Farmer Appreciation Dinner to celebrate the good folks raising good product with a meal by adoring chefs.

“We are proud to have Niman Ranch showcased on Harry’s delicious pizza,” Niman Ranch general manager Jeff Tripician says. “The folks at Harry’s, under the vision of Chef Schwartz, serve up terrific dishes that are a perfect pairing for our meat, not to mention our company values. We’re proud to be associated and a part of such a progressive chef-centered enterprise that cares deeply about where their food comes from.”

Named one of the top 25 pizzerias in America by Food & Wine Magazine, Chef Schwartz’s Neighborhood American Pizzeria will add restaurants in Miami Beach, Aventura and Sunrise, FL as well as its first out of state locations in Cleveland and Atlanta as part of its expansion to 20 restaurants by 2020 and Niman Ranch is a key component to getting there in the right way.  Come along for the ride.  Follow @harryspizzeria and visit harryspizzeria.com for what’s on the menu.