I’ve slowly been trying out this new segment on the blog, and by slowly I mean once in a blue moon when the opportunity presents itself. It’s this segment right here. The ode to certain places I’ve recently traveled to and have fallen in love with a certain food item segment. It’s a bit long. I’m still working out the title, but I feel like it’s a fun post to continue exploring. Here’s the deal, I take a dish or certain ingredients from a city I’ve traveled to and I convert it into a pizza, because we all know that pizza is the way to go. Pizza is life and we can never have too much of it. Let’s print that on t-shirts and sell them, I’m sure we’d make a fortune. I’m always up for any excuse that involves bread topped with cheese and other delicious ingredients. I’m also always up for exploring new flavor profiles and food combinations that I wouldn’t normally have thought to put on top of pizza. It’s like we’re exploring the city together through food and photographs, and that makes me really happy.
The first post was inspired by a trip to San Fransisco. Pickled Jalapeño and Sausage Pizza is my go to pizza topping from now on. I can never get tired of it. For the longest time I only ate pizza with pepperoni on it. That’s it. Nothing else. It wasn’t until just recently that I started exploring other toppings. Don’t get me wrong, a slice of pepperoni pizza is still a guilty pleasure of mine. The second post was a tribute to one of the greatest cities in this country, New Orleans. Jambalaya Pizza might sound a bit out there (and it totally is) but I promise it’s bomb dot com. Sausage, chicken and shrimp on pizza will change your life forever.
This time around it’s all about the wonderful city of Madison, Wisconsin. Which I just recently had the pleasure to visit and actually fell in love with the people, the food and the cheese. (I’m not being paid at all to say this to you, I promise. I just really love that city). I’d honestly live there if it wasn’t for the whole freezing cold snowing winter part. I wouldn’t survive the first winter, but the food and laid back coolness of the city have me seriously contemplating a move….later in life…in the distant future….like really distant. I always say this whenever I go somewhere that pleasantly surprises me, but then I come back home and I realize Los Angeles is kind of hard to beat. Except for the traffic. And the high prices on pretty much everything. And the pollution. And the traffic (let’s not talk about it).
In these segments, if you’ve been following along and have noticed, I’ve also been including a few non-food photos that I captured with my phone while out and about. Just random photos of things and places around the city. I know it’s not what normally goes down on this blog, but I think it’s a nice, hopefully welcomed, change. Again, I want you to experience these cities like I did. Plus, my mamma always complains that I never show her any of the photos I take whenever I go on a trip. So I put them on here so she can look at them when she reads my posts. (You’re welcome, mamma).
Aside from the amazing cheese Wisconsin has to offer, it is considered to be America’s Dairyland aka Disneyland for cheese enthusiasts such as myself, there is some pretty stellar architecture around Madison. The Capital building was my favorite thing to gawk at. I felt like Lesley Knope as I walked through the building. The inside looked like something right out of Parks and Recreation, I kid you not. I kept my eye out for Lil’ Sebastian but frankly, no luck. I did eat some waffles afterwards though, so it sort of evened out the whole experience.
Of course, there are also fields and farms and corn for days, as far as the eye can see. I’ve also never seen so much sky in my entire life. I looked up and I felt like there was more sky than land which I don’t even think is possible but some how Wisconsin makes it possible because that’s what it does. Wisconsin is a magical miracle maker.
If you want to read more about my first trip to America’s Dairyland (and why wouldn’t you?!) check out this article I wrote for Wisconsin Cheese “10 Things I Learned On My First Trip To Wisconsin.” It’s real, it’s raw and you’ll be glad you read it. Might even be the highlight of your day/week. Maybe.
Let’s turn our attention to the pizza…finally I know, but thanks for indulging me for a bit. Now it’s back to our regularly scheduled food program.
**Tip: The easiest way to tackle this recipe is to divide the tasks into steps that are totally attainable. That way you don’t feel overwhelmed by the numerous things we have to do before we even get to the eating part.**
The first step is to cook the corn. You can grill it on a stove top grill pan or an outdoor grill, or you can pop it under the broiler, like I did. It’s the easiest way, just do it.
Drizzle the corn with olive oil and season lightly with salt, black pepper, and a bit of cayenne pepper. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, turning occasionally, until charred all around. Allow to cool completely before cutting the kernels off the cob.
Cook the brats in a skillet for about 5 minutes on the first side, or until browned. Flip over and cook for another 5 minutes on the second side. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
Let’s make the beer cheddar sauce. Start by making a roux.
**Note: A roux is a thickening agent for sauces, which is a mixture of butter and flour. I just taught you something, and if you already knew that, well pretend like I just taught you something!**
Allow the roux to cook for about 30 seconds, until light golden brown and then slowly stream in the milk while continuously whisking.
**Tip: To ensure that the sauce cooks evenly and thickens faster, make sure to bring the milk to a simmer in a separate pot before adding it to the roux.**
Stir in the beer and allow the sauce to thicken and then season with salt, black pepper, dry mustard powder and cayenne pepper.
**Note: Feel free to use any light colored ale for the sauce. Try to stay away from really dark beer, only because those tend to be really strong in flavor and you don’t want to overshadow the sauce with a dark heavy beer taste.**
Remove the saucepan from the heat and add in the shredded cheese. I’m using a sharp cheddar from Wisconsin, because this is an ode to The Cheese State after all. (Any cheddar will do though).
Stir until the cheese has melted and the sauce is thick but still pourable. You can set it off to the side until ready to use on the pizza. We’re almost there. Almost to pizza eating time. Hang in there for a little bit longer.
Roll out the pizza dough into a large circle, and place it on a pizza stone or pizza pan, that’s been dusted with a bit of cornmeal (for look but also for taste). Top the dough with the beer cheddar sauce.
**Tip: If you’re not in the mood to make your own pizza dough from scratch, you can totally just go to the grocery store and buy one. If you do have a little time on your hand and want to make homemade pizza dough, check out this post where I show you how to!**
Top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Just completely cover the top of the pizza with mozzarella. Make it rain down cheese. This is for you, Wisconsin. Cheese for life.
Top the pizza with the sliced brats and the roasted corn from earlier. Space them out evenly on top, come on we still have to make it look good.
Bake in a preheated 475ºF oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly all around.
**Note: I know the super high oven temperature might sound a little scary but that high heat is needed to get a great pizza!**
Carefully remove the pizza from the oven and allow it to cool down somewhat before slicing. Garnish with a sprinkling of sliced scallions.
The scallions are really just here at the pizza party for a pop of color and freshness. Also, I feel like I can be less guilty about the cheese and beer and brats and more cheese if I added something green. I think my mamma would be very proud of me for this. It’s all about making the right choices.
I don’t think you can go wrong when you top a pizza with cheese sauce as a base and then load it up with more cheese. I’m pretty sure this is how dreams are made. I’ve learned that it’s easier to fight these things. Just embrace the cheese on cheese pizza and enjoy it.
You might be wondering why in the world is corn on this pizza, along with beer, cheddar and brats!?!? The cheddar is obvious because Wisconsin is all about the cheese. Bratwursts are pretty popular there as well, so of course they had to be on this pizza. The corn was invited to the party because I felt like the pizza needed another layer of flavor. Plus, there were cornfields a plenty out there. Everywhere I turned there were cornfields that I just wanted to run through before I remembered that’s how every scary movie starts before it takes a turn for the worse. So it just felt right. It made sense to have corn on this pizza.
Next time you’re in the mood for making homemade pizza and are stumped for toppings or you want to switch things up on Pizza Night Fridays, keep this one in mind. Even if you think it’s too out there. Don’t discredit it just yet. Make it first. Try out it for yourself, and if you’re not 100% completely satisfied with it, then I’ll give you your money back (not really but it won’t come to that because you’ll love it).
There’s something great about pizza that I can’t explain, but I’m certainly going to try so don’t try and stop me. Pizza is magical yes, but not only because of it’s taste. There’s something about pizza that brings people together. I think this is why I wanted these “ode” posts to be centered around pizza. Whenever you’re having a last minute party or gathering and don’t want to cook, pizza is there. Whenever you had a long day at the office and you don’t have time to make dinner but need to pick something up, pizza is there. Whenever you’re feeling blue and you need a pick-me-up, guess what, pizza is there.
It’s like an old friend you can always count on. It makes people happy and it’s sort of a universal food language. Sure the toppings might change from person to person, but the idea is the same. Thin bread topped with sauce and cheese. And pizza is understandable of dietary restrictions. Pizza has learned to adapt to your gluten-free and dairy-free needs. Isn’t that nice of pizza?
So I’ll tell you what you have to do. You grab your family or some friends (or even just yourself because why not) and you make this pizza or any pizza for that matter, or just buy it I don’t care, and you grab some board games and a few beers and maybe even a salad (we should be a little healthy) and just have a great time. You owe it to pizza after everything it has done for you. Enjoy!
Beer Cheddar Bratwurst Pizza
- 1 medium ear of corn
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 bratwursts
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk warmed
- 1/2 cup light colored beer
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup sliced scallions
- 1 pizza dough
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal
- Turn the broiler on and allow to get hot. Line a baking sheet with foil (easier clean up) and place the corn on top. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with a pinch of salt, pinch of black pepper and a little bit of cayenne pepper. Rub so that it's well coated and place under the broiler. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, turning the corn frequently until evenly charred. Remove from the oven and allow to cool down before cutting the kernels off the cob.
- Turn off broiler and heat oven to 475 degrees F.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to a skillet set over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the bratwursts and cook for about 5 minutes on the first side, or until browned. Flip over and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool down completely before thinly slicing.
- To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 30 seconds. Slowly stream in the milk while whisking until well combined and all has been incorporated. Stir in the beer and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with a 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and mustard powder. Remove from heat and stir in the cheddar cheese until completely melted. Set aside.
- Roll out the pizza dough into a large thin circle. Dust a pizza pan or pizza stone with cornmeal and transfer the rolled dough onto it. Top with the beer cheddar sauce and then cover with the mozzarella cheese. Arrange the bratwurst slices and corn on top and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Carefully remove from oven and garnish with scallions. Allow to cool slightly before cutting and serving. Enjoy!
Wow!! I’m speechless and for an Italian that takes quite a bit. We are making pizza tonight and ours by comparison is quite booooooring!! I love the idea of interpreting your favorite food and making it into a pizza. That’s wonderful. Okay, what would you do with fried green tomatoes. Now, our fried green tomatoes are so crunchy and so good that you can’t stop eating them. Do you think that would go well with a Southern theme?? Jonathan, I love your recipes and photos. Can’t wait to see your photos of where you’ve been and what you’ve eaten. Buona giornata!
I loved this post! And your photos of the city were just as breathtaking as the photos of your cooking. Great work again!
You’re the best Robert. Keep being….Robert.
beautiful photos – with tie-up to local cuisine, complete with great recipes. You’re breaking new grounds, here, Jonathan. love your blog. reminds me of Julia Child.
Thank you so much! That’s a major compliment. You just made my day!
This looks so good! And you got me excited for Madison- we’re stopping for a few hours this weekend on the way up north. I’m psyched!
What a coincidence! Glad I put this up before you stopped there!
Love the post. Glad you had a good time in Madison, my hometown. 🙂
Thank you! So glad I did your hometown justice! It’s an amazing city!
How many slices of this do I want to eat? All of them.
Thanks for visiting, Jonathan – and for making a Madison-inspired pizza. We might have to make this in the office soon… 🙂
Thank YOU all for having me! I hope you guys give it a try soon!
You always blow me away with your creative and delicious ideas. Brats on pizza? Where have you been all my life?
i live in madison, so of course reading your madison segments and your love for our city has been so much fun…..i hope you made it to willy street and to the west side, as they are my favorite, but the small towns outside of madison are by far, hands down even better. like mineral point!!!!! the best little town ever!!! visit again and i’ll take you there!!