Growing up, I don’t recall having meatballs much. We had meatloaf and plenty of other ground beef entrees, but the closest we came to meatballs was the rare occasion my dad made “stuffing balls”–ground beef wrapped around prepared Stovetop stuffing. (It’s actually one of those meals I think back on fondly, mouth watering. That, and rouladen, which we had exactly once, but there was something about that pickle wrapped in beef that was so memorable, I can’t help it. This may explain my fascination with inside-out burgers…)
So back to the present… It’s no secret: I love to cook. I love to bake. I love to share my cooking and baking. (I also really love bacon–more on that in a minute.) Last fall, with the help of my husband, I discovered Johnsonville Sausage‘s Italian Sausage Pizza Possibilities contest, and since I also love pizza, I decided to enter. I ended up winning with my Mini-Stuffed Meatball Pizza with Garlic-Parmesan Sausage-Stuffed Crust. Why, yes, it’s a bit of a mouthful, but so delicious!
But never one to settle and declare a dish done and always searching for ways to incorporate more bacon into my cooking, I’d been dreaming of a bacon cheeseburger version about 5 minutes after the first Mini-stuffed Meatb… came out of the oven.
And so, here it is, in all its bacon-y, cheesy, sausage-y, hyphenated (and mushroomy, because mushrooms are good, too) goodness. It may look like a lot of work, but I guarantee the efforts are worth the end product. After all, love comes with a price, and dreams don’t come true sitting still. If you’re going to dream, you might as well go big. With mini meatballs. 🙂
Bacon-Cheeseburger Mini Stuffed-Meatball Pizza with Garlic-Parmesan Sausage-Stuffed Crust
Dough (you may also substitute your favorite premade pizza dough)
- 1 cup very warm water
- 1 packet active dry yeast (2-1/4 tsp.)
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 3 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 Johnsonville Mild Italian Sausage links
- 2 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 36 pieces (should measure about one-quarter inch by one-quarter by one-half inch blocks)
- 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 4 slices bacon, cut into ½” pieces
- 1 medium onion, cut in half and sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- ½ cup sliced mushrooms
- 2/3 cup pizza sauce
- 1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 Tbsp. cold butter
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Stir yeast into water in large bowl. Add sugar, 2 Tbsp. oil, salt, and flour and stir until dough forms. Turn dough onto lightly-floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes (add flour as necessary to keep from sticking). Place in large bowl brushed with olive oil, turning to cover all sides of dough. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm place until double, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove sausages from casings; set one link aside. Divide remaining three links into 10-12 pieces each. Wrap a chunk of cheddar with one piece of sausage and roll in hand to form small meatball. Repeat with remaining cheese and sausage.
Heat remaining Tbsp. of oil in 10-inch skillet over medium-high. Cook remaining sausage link until browned, breaking apart into small pieces, about 5 minutes. Remove sausage to bowl; set aside.
Reduce heat to medium, and add bacon to skillet. Cook until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add onions and mushrooms; cook until browned and tender, about 5 more minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute. Remove from heat.
Shape pizza dough into large circle about 1 inch wider than large pizza pan or pizza stone. Sprinkle cooked sausage and ½ cup shredded mozzarella about 1 inch from edge of dough; fold dough over cheese and sausage and press to seal. Bake in oven for 5 minutes.
Spread pizza sauce over crust. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Top with bacon and onion mixture. Evenly distribute meatballs on pizza. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until crust is golden brown and meatballs are cooked through. Remove from oven; immediately rub butter over crust and sprinkle crust with garlic powder and Parmesan cheese, sprinkling any extra Parmesan cheese over pizza. Let sit for 5 minutes, slice, and serve.