Pizza arguments include the thin and crispy versus stuffed or hand-tossed crust debate. The heated meat-lovers or vegetarian topping discussion and international debate on pineapple or anchovies as acceptable toppings have severed friendships. One thing pizza lovers will always agree on is the need for cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. Other than these battle zones, no set rule applies to pizza. It's a universal food that almost everyone loves in one form or another.
In a couple of weeks, pizza made a multitude of ways will feed football fans around the globe on Super Bowl Sunday. Over 12 million pizzas will be consumed in the U.S. alone as America watches the biggest game of the year. Pizza lags behind wings and chili on the Top 10 list of favorite Super Bowl foods, but it’s still a staple on most party tables. And it’s no wonder. Besides its delicious taste, pizza is a perfect “feed a crowd” food. According to Domino’s, one large pizza with a hand-tossed crust contains eight slices and “should” feed 3 to 5 people - should being the optimal word. Likewise, the pizza chain’s large pizza with a crunchy thin crust comes in 16 squares and feeds that many or more.
Besides feeding the masses, pizza is extremely portable, an important attribute at any crowded Super Bowl gathering. A slice of pizza can easily be added to a plate filled with food and eaten with one hand while watching the game.
And don’t forget pizza’s affordability, especially if you opt to make your own. Creating your own pizza masterpiece from a pre-baked crust or frozen pizza dough, then adding layers of pizza sauce, favorite meat toppings, and cheese is less expensive than delivery pizza. And, if you add the right toppings, it's healthier and usually tastier.
One of my favorite homemade varieties is one I call “Cheeseburger with all the Trimmings.” If you have a large enough baking sheet, it can be super-sized to feed a crowd. Here’s how I make it.
In a large skillet, brown a pound of ground chuck until it’s no longer pink, then drain off the fat. Place a pre-baked crust (if using frozen pizza dough, follow baking directions on the package) on an non-greased baking sheet or pizza pan. Mix together a half cup of ketchup and quarter cup of yellow mustard and spread over the crust. Spread the ground chuck over the mixture and bake in a 425 degrees F oven for five minutes. Sprinkle top with a cup and a half of shredded cheddar cheese and bake until the cheese is bubbly; about eight minutes.
For the crowning touch, top with shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, onions, and dill pickles to taste. Whisk together a half cup of mayonnaise and three tablespoons of dill pickle juice and drizzle over pizza. For extra pizzazz, drizzle additional ketchup and mustard over top.
Super Bowl Sunday is famous for wings, chili, burgers, ribs, and, as mentioned, lots of pizza. However, if you prefer lighter fare and long for a cheese or antipasto tray amidst the hearty dishes, a recipe I discovered at a 2017 gathering will please your taste buds.
It’s filled with sliced meats and cheeses, but like pizza, it’s more portable than an unwieldy tray filled with your favorite delicacies. One bite and even the wing-lovers will come back for seconds.
Super Bowl Antipasto Squares
2 (8-ounce) tubes refrigerated crescent rolls
1/4 pound each: thinly sliced salami, Swiss cheese, pepperoni, Colby-Monterey Jack cheese, prosciutto or thinly sliced ham, provolone cheese
1/2 teaspoon each garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (12-ounce) jar roasted sweet red peppers, drained
1 large egg yolk, beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Unroll one tube of crescent rolls into a long rectangle; press perforations to seal. Press onto the bottom and sides of an non-greased 11-by-7 inch baking dish.
Layer meats and cheese onto dough in the order listed. In small bowl, whisk together the eggs and seasonings until well blended, then pour over meats and cheeses.
Unroll remaining dough into a rectangle; press perforations to seal and place over filling. Pinch seams and edges tightly to seal filling. Brush with beaten egg yolk, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes until top is golden brown. Let stand 20 minutes before cutting into squares.