Wisconsibly Pizza

I was born and raised in Wisconsin and while I wandered away for college, I returned to Wisconsin and settled in Madison as an adult. And we're definitely about cheese. And a German sausage called brats. And beer. And more. But why spend all this time listing it all when I can make a pizza that gives a nod or ten to my home state?

Now, I know some of you cheeseheads out there - trust me, it's a term of endearment - are wondering where the cheese curds are. While you can absolutely toss a few onto the pizza before it goes on the grill, my family tends to snack on them while this pie is perfecting on the grill. Oh - and make sure you have more beer on hand, because that is the beverage of choice among most Wisconsinites of drinking age when it comes to pizza.

The secret to a tender whole wheat crust is the combination of vital wheat gluten, which helps make the crust chewy instead of hard, and sugar, which feeds the yeast very well and allows your dough to puff up more than it would without it. Don't skip either and you will start asking yourself why you haven't been making whole wheat pizza crusts all along. As for the pickle juice in the sauce, I am just going to put this out there. The sauce will be fine without it. It will be tasty. But it is absolutely FANTASTIC with that extra tangy pop the pickle juice brings to it. Really. Give it a try. And hey, since my garden is still producing basil, I'm going to lean into working some very local produce! You can skip it if you're not a fan or don't have access to the fresh stuff.

What to have with this? The aforementioned curds would rock. A fresh garden salad might be wise. The joy that comes with grilling a pizza and, ideally, enjoying it in the great outdoors is definitely an excellent idea.

Wisconsibly Pizza

For the whole wheat pizza crust:
  • 2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 2 T. vital wheat gluten*
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
  • ¼ tsp. crushed rosemary
  • ¼ tsp. dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp. dried basil
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • ¾ c. water @ 105-110° F
For the pickle cheddar beer sauce:
  • 6 oz. light-colored beer
  • 2 T. pickle juice
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • ¾ c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • Pinch salt and cracked black pepper
To top the pizza:
  • 3 raw bratwurst sausages, casings removed
  • ½ c. thinly sliced onion
  • 2 c. shredded colby jack cheese blend
  • 12-15 fresh basil leaves, chopped or arranged artfully on top of the pizza

Add the crust ingredients (in the order listed) to the bread pan of your bread machine. Process according the manufacturer’s instructions for the dough setting. When the dough is done, remove it from the bread machine and press into a well-oiled cast iron skillet. *Vital wheat gluten can be found in the baking section of most grocery stores and will help traditionally tough whole wheat dough take on more tenderness and a good chewy texture.

While the bread machine runs, make the pickle cheddar beer sauce. Add the beer and pickle juice to a sauce pan. Bring it to a boil. Toss the cornstarch with the cheese. Once the beer mixture is boiling, add the cheese mixture, turn down the heat, and stir constantly. Toss in the salt and pepper. Stir, remove from the heat, and cool considerably before adding to the crust in the cast iron pan. If you make the sauce right away when the bread machine cycle begins, it will be cool enough to use when the cycle completes.

While the bread machine runs, fry the bratwurst sausage filling and crumble it like Italian sausages for pizza. Near the end of the cooking cycle, add the onions and fry lightly to give them some color.

To assemble the pizza, add the sausage and onion to the top of the crust that's been spread with the pickle cheddar beer sauce. Sprinkle evenly with the shredded cheese and basil. I like to make patterns with the basil leaves, but you can also chop the leaves and sprinkle them evenly either on top or beneath the layer of cheese.

Grill the pizza over 400°F heat for 15-18 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the crust is puffed and tender. Cool slightly before slicing and digging in.

  • Yields: 3-5 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes, plus dough cycle time (which is usually about 1.5 hours)