Gourmet Camping Recipe: Sausage and Fennel Grilled Pizza

Apr 17, 2012 by     24 Comments    Posted under: Camping, Camping Recipes, Main Course Recipes, Recipes
Sausage and Fennel Grilled Campfire Pizza

Sausage and Fennel Grilled Campfire Pizza

I tried pushing the bounds of campfire cooking again this weekend while camping with some friends.  Wood fired pizza is always delicious, so I thought, “wouldn’t it be even better over an open campfire?”  Boy was I right.  The crispy crust and smokey combination was ridiculous.  It was a little tricky melting the cheese, but a quick camp gear improvisation fixed that straight away.  This recipe is more on the fancy side of pizza toppings, but any toppings you like will do quite nicely.  The technique and concepts are the same regardless.  Give it a try on your next camping adventure.  Your fellow campers will be confused and awed at just how awesome you are.

Gourmet Camping Pizza Ingredients

1 medium bulb fennel/anise, cored and sliced

Fennel fronds, chopped (for garnish)

1/2 large onion, sliced

1 pound mild Italian sausage

8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

1 bag prepared pizza dough

Pre-made pizza sauce (home-made, store bought, canned, whatever)

1/4 cup pine nuts (optional)

Extra Virgin Olive oil

Salt and pepper

How to Cook Sausage and Fennel on the Campfire for Your Pizza

Start by prepping your fire in advance.  You want a good bed of hot coals that you can easily add and/or remove wood to as needed.

Place a skillet or dutch oven on a camp rack over the coals, or directly over coals (if using a dutch oven).  Get the oven/skillet hot, add some olive oil, then add the sausage.  Brown the sausage, breaking up into bite-sized pieces as you go.  Tend the sausage carefully so that you don’t burn it, but get it nice and caramelized brown.  You may need to remove coals and/or wood to avoid hot spots and burning.

Cooking Sausage Over a Campfire

Cooking Sausage Over a Campfire

Remove the sausage from the skillet/dutch oven and set aside.  Add more olive oil to the skillet/dutch oven and saute the fennel and onion together, seasoning with salt and pepper, until they are golden brown and soft.

Cooking Onions and Fennel Over a Campfire

Cooking Onions and Fennel Over a Campfire

 

How to Roll Out Pizza Dough While Camping

Split your dough in half.  This recipe will make two 10″ pizzas.  Hopefully you have a good sized cutting board in your “car camping” supplies, but if not, use a lid from one of your camping bins, the top of a cooler, or if nothing else, the hood of your car (scrubbed clean of course) as a rolling surface.  Put a little olive oil on your surface, then plop one of your dough halves on it, flatten and start stretching it a bit with your hands.  You can continue to do this by hand, but you may get a more uniform thickness and round shape if you use a roller of some sort.  If you have a rolling pin, use it, but if not, a water bottle makes a great alternative!

Using Water Bottle to Roll Dough While Camping

Using Water Bottle to Roll Dough While Camping

 

How to Cook Pizza Over a Campfire

First things first, CLEAN THE CAMPFIRE RACK!  By having it over the fire, it will get nice and hot, but it will also be covered in black soot.  Simply run a wet washcloth/sponge across the rack to remove the soot (it’s probably best to lift the rack off the fire for this, then lower it again once cleaned).  Do this until the rag no longer turns jet black.  Then pour some olive oil on a paper toil and rub across the rack.  This will help prevent the dough from sticking.

Now for the fun part.  Place your hand over the campfire at rack level to determine temperature.  You’re looking to be able to keep your hand at rack level for 10 seconds.  If you can’t, adjust the height of the rack and/or remove some of the wood/coals until you can.  If it doesn’t feel like you must pull your hand away at 10 seconds, put some more wood/coals on the fire under the rack.  10 seconds will be just perfect to slowly brown and cook the dough without burning it.

Now that your rack is clean and your fire is perfect, place the dough on the rack.  Cook it until the bottom side is crispy and has nice dark grill lines on it, about 5 minutes (you can lift a side of the dough now and then to check on it).

Cook Pizza Dough on Rack Over Campfire

Cook Pizza Dough on Rack Over Campfire

Flip Pizza Dough to Cook other Side on Campfire

Flip Pizza Dough to Cook other Side on Campfire

Once flipped, double check your 10 second hand temperature check, adding/removing wood/coals if necessary.

Now spread out the pizza sauce, top with half the cheese, then top with half the fennel and onions, then finish with half the Italian sausage and pine nuts (forgot mine today!).

Top Campfire Pizza with Sauce

Top Campfire Pizza with Sauce

Top Campfire Pizza with Cheese

Top Campfire Pizza with Cheese

Add Fennel and Onions to Campfire Pizza

Add Fennel and Onions to Campfire Pizza

Top Campfire Pizza with Italian Sausage

Top Campfire Pizza with Italian Sausage

In order for the cheese to melt and all of your toppings to heat through, you will need to cover the pizza to trap the heat in from the coals below.  A metal camp plate works perfect for this, but a skillet or tin foil would work as well.  If you don’t cover the pizza, the crust will burn before your cheese melts.

Cover Campfire Pizza to Melt Cheese

Cover Campfire Pizza to Melt Cheese

Check on your pizza every couple of minutes by lifting the camp plate.  It should take about 5 minutes or so to fully cook.  Once the cheese has melted, it’s time to remove it from the fire.

Covered Campfire Pizza with Melting Cheese

Covered Campfire Pizza with Melting Cheese

To remove pizza from the rack, lift an edge and pull gently to slide off the rack and onto your cutting board/plate/whatever (be careful, the crust is hot).  Garnish with reserved fennel fronds.  Slice into quarters with a knife and serve piping hot.  Repeat for the other pizza dough and remaining toppings.  Yum!

Sausage and Fennel Grilled Campfire Pizza Slices

Sausage and Fennel Grilled Campfire Pizza Slices

 

Recipe by Jothan Yeager, April 2012

 

The Bald Gourmet takes his pizza making skills into the wild with Grilled Campfire Sausage and Fennel Pizza.

 

Gourmet Camping Recipe: Sausage and Fennel Grilled Pizza
 
Push the bounds of campfire cooking with this delicious wood fired pizza. The crispy crust and smokey combination is ridiculous. Give it a try on your next camping adventure. Your fellow campers will be confused and awed at just how awesome you are.
Author:
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Camping
Servings: Two 10″ pizzas

Ingredients
  • Gourmet Camping Pizza Ingredients
  • 1 medium bulb fennel/anise, cored and sliced
  • Fennel fronds, chopped (for garnish)
  • ½ large onion, sliced
  • 1 pound mild Italian sausage
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 1 bag prepared pizza dough
  • Pre-made pizza sauce (home-made, store bought, canned, whatever)
  • ¼ cup pine nuts (optional)
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions
  1. Start by prepping your fire in advance. You want a good bed of hot coals that you can easily add and/or remove wood to as needed.
  2. Place a skillet or dutch oven on a camp rack over the coals, or directly over coals (if using a dutch oven). Get the oven/skillet hot, add some olive oil, then add the sausage. Brown the sausage, breaking up into bite-sized pieces as you go. Tend the sausage carefully so that you don’t burn it, but get it nice and caramelized brown. You may need to remove coals and/or wood to avoid hot spots and burning.
  3. Remove the sausage from the skillet/dutch oven and set aside. Add more olive oil to the skillet/dutch oven and saute the fennel and onion together, seasoning with salt and pepper, until they are golden brown and soft.
  4. Split your dough in half. This recipe will make two 10″ pizzas. Hopefully you have a good sized cutting board in your “car camping” supplies, but if not, use a lid from one of your camping bins, the top of a cooler, or if nothing else, the hood of your car (scrubbed clean of course) as a rolling surface. Put a little olive oil on your surface, then plop one of your dough halves on it, flatten and start stretching it a bit with your hands. You can continue to do this by hand, but you may get a more uniform thickness and round shape if you use a roller of some sort. If you have a rolling pin, use it, but if not, a water bottle makes a great alternative!
  5. CLEAN THE CAMPFIRE RACK! By having it over the fire, it will get nice and hot, but it will also be covered in black soot. Simply run a wet washcloth/sponge across the rack to remove the soot (it’s probably best to lift the rack off the fire for this, then lower it again once cleaned). Do this until the rag no longer turns jet black. Then pour some olive oil on a paper toil and rub across the rack. This will help prevent the dough from sticking.
  6. Now for the fun part. Place your hand over the campfire at rack level to determine temperature. You’re looking to be able to keep your hand at rack level for 10 seconds. If you can’t, adjust the height of the rack and/or remove some of the wood/coals until you can. If it doesn’t feel like you must pull your hand away at 10 seconds, put some more wood/coals on the fire under the rack. 10 seconds will be just perfect to slowly brown and cook the dough without burning it.
  7. Now that your rack is clean and your fire is perfect, place the dough on the rack. Cook it until the bottom side is crispy and has nice dark grill lines on it, about 5 minutes (you can lift a side of the dough now and then to check on it).
  8. Once flipped, double check your 10 second hand temperature check, adding/removing wood/coals if necessary.
  9. Now spread out the pizza sauce, top with half the cheese, then top with half the fennel and onions, then finish with half the Italian sausage and pine nuts.
  10. In order for the cheese to melt and all of your toppings to heat through, you will need to cover the pizza to trap the heat in from the coals below. A metal camp plate works perfect for this, but a skillet or tin foil would work as well. If you don’t cover the pizza, the crust will burn before your cheese melts.
  11. Check on your pizza every couple of minutes by lifting the camp plate. It should take about 5 minutes or so to fully cook. Once the cheese has melted, it’s time to remove it from the fire.
  12. To remove pizza from the rack, lift an edge and pull gently to slide off the rack and onto your cutting board/plate/whatever (be careful, the crust is hot).
  13. Garnish with reserved fennel fronds.
  14. Slice into quarters with a knife and serve piping hot. Repeat for the other pizza dough and remaining toppings. Yum!

24 Comments + Add Comment

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  • Awesome Pizza ! My wife made it for me camping and at home…..but only because I too am bald.

    • Ha! That’s awesome Dale. Bald is the only way to be! And having a good pizza while camping makes it even better! Glad you liked it. :)

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  • I’m going camping for the first time this weekend. This’ll be one of our dinners. I can’t wait to try this method out, pretty excited!!!

    • Best of luck on your camping adventure Rhonalyn. Have a blast! This campfire pizza method works every time. Just remember to adjust your heat like I outline and you can’t go wrong. It’s good with any type of pizza, but this recipe is a crowd pleaser every time. Enjoy and happy “roughing it” eating!

    • So how did the camping and the pizzas turn out?

  • I roll thawed-frozen dinner rolls in grits or coarse cornmeal for individual grilled pizzas :~) I could eat the crust plain made like this.

  • Thanks for the tips – going to try it this weekend!!!! Mmmmmmmmmm….or maybe…there’s no law against breakfast pizza, is there? :)

    • Well Carissa, how’d it turn out?

  • I love campfire pizza – my ex MIL makes unbelievable pizza in a makeshift oven over a campfire.

    I’m not as ambitious as she is (or as handy as her hubby at welding cast iron!), but i was thinking about trying pizza on my gas grill since I won’t be camping for a while. 2 questions:

    1) think the gas grill will work? and
    2) any recommendations for prepared pizza dough?

    I’m from Chicago, so I’m picky about my crust (crispy with some stretch is preferred!), but with life as crazy as it is, I’m not prepared to make homemade dough!

    THANKS!

    • Making pizza on a gas grill works great! I do it all the time at home. A couple of tips for you:

      1). If your grill is large enough, and your burners run front to back rather than right to left, have one side of your grill hot and the other side warm. This will allow you to cook the dough on the hot side (without any toppings), then move it to the warm side to flip, top, and finish cooking. The dual-zone heat set up creates a good oven-like heat inside from the indirect heating. If this isn’t possible, don’t stress. Just have your burners high enough to be able to hold your hand at grate level for about 10 seconds. Cook the one side of the dough first, then flip, top, close lid, and cook until the cheese is melted. It takes a little longer on low heat, but the results are just as tasty.

      2). Rub your dough well with olive oil prior to putting on the grill. This isn’t 100% necessary, but I’ve found that it helps prevent sticking and it gives the dough an extra layer of tasty goodness.

      3). After you top the pizza, cook it with the grill lid on. This will make an oven effect to help melt the cheese.

      As for prepared dough, Winco sells a really nice bagged fresh pizza dough. It has good flavor, chewy texture, and crisps up nicely. That’s what I usually use when feeling too lazy to make a batch myself. I’ve used Rhodes frozen dough in the past, but I like the fresher Winco stuff better. If you don’t have a Winco in your area (should you be visiting Chicago), try a local pizza shop or grocery store deli. A lot of them sell pizza dough by the pound.

      Let me know how it turns out…

  • Unless there were pictures I would not believe it. What is WRONG WITH YOU!

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The Bald Gourmet Mug

I'm Jothan Yeager and I am The Bald Gourmet. After years of experimenting in my kitchen, creating delicious food and eating at amazing places around the world, I wanted a place to share my experiences with everyone. Thus the Bald Gourmet was born. I hope to open the doors of great food and great cooking to you, to inspire you to reach beyond prepared boxed meals, and to teach you of a world of deliciousness that has brought joy to me and those around me. Please enjoy the adventure which is The Bald Gourmet and share it with those you love.