We cook Italian food three or four days a week.  And at least once a week it is something using fresh dough.  Sometimes it’s foccacia, sometimes pizza.  Lucky for me, my husband makes red and white pizzas–including a luscious pepperoni, mushroom and sausage.  (He made one last month for a group and one woman–a pretty critical eater–said it was the best pizza she had ever had.)  Here’s how we prep for this pizza. Before you even start getting the ingredients together, if you want crispy crust, buy a pizza stone.  Cheap is fine and don’t waste money on one with fancy handles.  Just put it on the bottom shelf of your oven and leave it there–never take it out or wash it.  #1 Whether you make your own dough or buy Trader Joe’s plain white pizza dough like we usually do–it’s in the case near the cheese and salami–bring it to room temperature ahead of time.  #2  Slice and cook your mushrooms in olive oil until golden brown–that will get rid of the moisture that can make your pizza soggy. (The photo above, bathed in the light of sunset through the kitchen window, shows both the warmer dough and the mushrooms.)  #3 Remove casing, crumble and cook your sausage. (We like Major Market’s Mild Italian.)  #4 Don’t use fresh Mozzarella for this pizza; it puts out too much moisture and the flavor is too mild for this mix. (At some point we’ll talk the secrets to a great Pizza Margherita which is where the fresh shines.) Stick with the standard aged Mozzarella and grate coarsely.  #5  Use a very simple tomato sauce.  I prefer one that’s just tomatoes, a little garlic and olive oil, though TJ’s Marinara is fine too.  (Herbs don’t play a major role in this pizza but if you have some fresh ones feel free to chop them for later.) #6 Get your oven blazing hot, we go to 500.  Once everything is prepped, it’s time to make the pizza.  And we’ll do that tomorrow.

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