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All We Can Eat
Posted at 03:10 PM ET, 05/09/2011

The Family Dish: Fusion solution


Taco Pizza passes muster with this traditionalist. (Domenica Marchetti)

I can claim no credit for this inspired idea. That honor belongs to my (soon-to-be) 13-year-old, Adriana, who dreamed it up with a little goading help from her older brother, Nick.

In fact, until I took a bite, I was more than a little skeptical. I am something of a pizza traditionalist. Do not put ham and pineapple on my pizza, and do not defile it with barbecued pork or chicken pesto.

My daughter has none of these hangups; in fact, much to my dismay, she likes ham and pineapple pizza. In this case, however, she was just trying to keep the peace. Here’s how it went down:

Me: What do you guys want for dinner? Tacos or pizza?

Nick: Tacos

Adriana: Pizza.

Nick: Tacos.

Adriana: Pizza.

Nick: Tacos.

Adriana: What about taco pizza?

Me: Gross.

I am not making this up.

I tried to dissuade my daughter, but she was persistent. She devised what to put on the pizza, and how it would all come together. I made the dough (but store-bought is just fine) and contributed my seasoned beef recipe and helped with chopping the onion. Adriana assembled the pizza, deciding to apply salsa first, then the beef, then the cheese. We have used Monterey Jack and Mammoth cheddar on our taco pizza, but you could try queso blanco or queso fresco.

I had to concede after taking my first bite that taco pizza was far better than I feared; in fact, delicious.

If you want to get a jump on this recipe, you can make the seasoned beef mixture a day or two in advance and refrigerate it until it’s time to assemble and bake the pizza. Just heat the mixture in a skillet before spreading it out over the dough. And the recipe can be easily doubled to serve 8 or more.

Taco Pizza

4 to 6 servings

This pizza is pretty much a meal in itself.

Serve with a simple salad tossed with oil and vinegar. For wine, try a California zinfandel or a Rioja from Spain.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (1 cup)

1 medium clove garlic, minced

1 pound lean ground beef

1 tablespoon ancho chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup canned diced tomatoes or tomato puree

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon light brown sugar, or to taste

1 pound homemade or store-bought pizza dough

1 cup store-bought salsa

1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack, Colby Jack or cheddar cheese

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the onion has begun to soften. Stir in the ground beef, using a wooden spoon or flexible spatula to break up any large chunks of meat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the beef has lost its pink color.

Sprinkle in the chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, oregano and cinnamon. Mix everything together gently but thoroughly. Add the tomatoes and stir well. Once the mixture starts to bubble at the edges, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes, until the tomatoes are well incorporated. Stir in the vinegar and the brown sugar. Cook for 5 minutes. Taste and add brown sugar or salt as needed. Turn off the heat.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.Coat a large (12-by-17-inch) rectangular rimmed baking sheet with the remaining tablespoon of oil.

Flatten the pizza dough with your hands and place it in the middle of the baking sheet. Use your fingers and palms to slowly press and stretch the dough evenly toward the edges until it covers the baking sheet, making sure there are no holes. If the dough shrinks back, just be patient and give it a minute, then press it out again; eventually, it will stop retreating.

Spread the salsa on top of the pizza dough, leaving about a 1-inch margin around the edges. Spoon the ground beef mixture on top of the salsa, using a spatula to spread it out evenly. Sprinkle the cheese on top. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the edges of the dough are browned and the cheese is completely melted.

Let cool slightly before cutting into rectangular slices and serving.

Domenica Marchetti is the author of the upcoming “The Glorious Pasta of Italy” (Chronicle, June 2011) as well as “The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy” (Chronicle, 2006) and “Big Night In: More Than 100 Wonderful Recipes for Feeding Family and Friends Italian-Style” (Chronicle 2008). Her blog is at DomenicaCooks.com .

By Domenica Marchetti  |  03:10 PM ET, 05/09/2011

Tags:  The Family Dish, recipes

 
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