Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pane Salsiccia e Formaggio

This is the recipe for my always popular sausage bread, endlessly tinkered with despite people telling me it was fine.  Well, it wasn't fine for me until my most recent attempt, when I finally got the crust to come out the way I like it by using a tip from America's Test Kitchen.  Instead of brushing the bread with olive oil or an eggwash, I simply sprayed it with water before putting it in the oven, then every two minutes after I put it in, 3 times total.  The end result was the dark, crunchy artisan-style crust I'd been chasing for years.

Italian Sausage and Cheese stuffed Bread


  • 1-1/2 lbs hot Italian sausage (La Molisana's works best)
  • about 1/3 lb grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese (Use freshly grated Pecorino if you can)
  • olive oil
  • flour
  • A spray bottle full of water for misting
  • 1lb pizza dough 
    • 2-1/4 King Arthur Bread Flour
    • 3/4 cup of warm water (110°-105°)
    • 1 TSP Hodgson Mill yeast 
    • 1 TBSP of Local Honey
    • 1 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • 1/2 TSP Salt
    • A pinch of sugar to proof the yeast
Making the Dough:

Start by mixing the yeast & the water and add the pinch of sugar.  It'll be ready when it looks a bit foamy.  While the yeast proofs, mix the flour, oil, honey, and salt together in a large bowl. Stir in the yeast until it forms a standard pizza dough (this is mostly feel) and knead for 15 minutes either by hand, or with stand mixer equipped with a dough hook.   
Place the dough in a bowl and cover.  Let it rise for at least an hour at room temperature or in the refrigerator until it has doubled in size.

Preparing the sausage:

Remove the casing from the sausage (or sausages) and make sure it’s broken up.  Heat a TSBP of olive in a large Skillet or Frying pan.  Brown the sausage over MEDIUM heat (around 5 or 6 on the knob) until it’s golden brown and but not burned giving the pan a quick deglaze with an ounce or two of water.   It can splatter, so be careful.   Remove the sausage from the heat, and after it cools a bit, scoop it from the pan with a slotted spoon.  If you don't, the finished bread will be a soggy mess.

Preparing the dough:

Flour your hands and a cutting boards so that the dough doesn’t stick.  Stretch the dough with your hands (don’t use a rolling pin or you’ll flatten out all the bubbles) into a rectangular shape about ¼” thick. Be careful not to go too thin, or the sausage will tear the dough in the next step

Putting it all together:

Once you have the dough stretched out, sprinkle the crumbled sausage onto it, as evenly as you can and right to the edges.  Then do the same with grated cheese so that you can barely see the sausage (think of the yard after a light snowfall, with little bits of grass still poking through and you'll be in the right ballpark).   Now carefully roll the whole thing up and press/pinch the edge of the dough closed. I tend to shape the dough into a ring(which I originally did it so a cup of tomato sauce would fit in the middle for dipping, which I did exactly one time), or just pinch the ends closed to make a standard loaf shape.

Getting it in the oven:

Preheat the oven to 500° (q. George Carlin "There are only two states an oven can possibly exist in: Heated or unheated! "Preheated" is a meaningless term!") .  If you have a pizza stone, start preheating the oven about an hour before you intend to put the bread in, and you can bake it directly on the

Wipe the pizza pan or a baking sheet with olive oil, and then dust it with flour (If you have semolina, or corn meal, you can use it here). Transfer the bread to the pan.  Spray the loaf with enough water to lightly wet the outside before you put it in the over and repeat few times during the first 6 minutes (every 2 minutes or so).
After the final spray, lower the temperature  and bake at 425° for 25- 30 minutes or until the crust is the orange-brown of dark toast, but not burned.  Give the bread at 20-40 minutes (up to a few hours) to settle before cutting it.

You can use this same basic recipe with pepperoni and smoked scamorza,  broccoli and cheddar, cubed Black Forest ham with sun-dried tomatoes and smoked Gouda, etc.


Marianne July 7, 2010 at 8:51 AM  

Dave, this really is a fantastic bread. I am guessing like all good cooks you left something out possibly by mistake. :)

David Macharelli July 7, 2010 at 9:32 AM  

I think it's all there. I'm writing these things down as much for me as anyone else, and unlike the classic stereotypical Italian grandmother, would actually like someone else to make it as well as I do. Then I can experiment with making something else.

Lori July 7, 2010 at 9:34 AM  

Okay, I need to make that. The only things that might stop me from doing so today? A. 95-degree heat and B. having to search for good Italian sausage...180 miles from Waterbury...

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