Sauerkraut and meatball pizza

Bomb of a pizza with meatballs and sauerkraut, Ohio style.

A Palatable Pastime
It might sound like an unusual combination but the dried sauerkraut adds a unique flavor to this pizza.

Here in Ohio in autumn we have a thing for food festivals and at one of those I have become accustomed to always eating sauerkraut pizza. And if you have never had it before I know it can sound pretty weird. There was a first time for me as well. But since I had already eaten sweet sauerkraut pie, sauerkraut fudge, and sauerkraut donuts, I was steeled for the challenge.

I know some of you are still gawking at the fudge idea. But it is not so much of a challenge if you know how to treat the kraut. Properly prepared, any food is not going to have a strong brine or sour flavor. Kraut is well rinsed (even soaked in changes of cold water in the case of desserts) and totally squeezed dry – not just drip dry but “squeeze all the liquid out” dry. 

That is specifically important when making this pizza, not because I am afraid of a little tang (a little tang is actually a good thing when making pizza) but because I don’t need any more liquid in contact with my crust as I need. So I squeeze the kraut until it forms a tight dry ball that holds together. And flakes like dry coconut onto the pizza. The flavor is not overwhelming at all. But it is quite unique!

Sauerkraut and meatball pizza
Serves 3 to 4

For the meatballs:

1  pound ground chuck
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons dry bread crumbs

For the pizza ingredients:

16 ounces prepared pizza dough
8 ounce can sauerkraut
6 ounces Provolone cheese slices
1-1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 cup pizza sauce
1/4 cup finely diced green bell pepper
1 cup canned dried French fried onions

1. Set pizza dough out in a lightly oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap and allow to warm to room temperature.

2. Mix together meatball ingredients and shape into 12 meatballs.

3. Brown meatballs on all sides and cook over low heat until internal temperature is 160 degrees F.; drain meatballs of fat and keep warm.

4. Rinse and drain canned sauerkraut, then squeeze small handfuls in tight fists until no more liquid comes out and it clings together like a meatball, totally dry.

5. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F., heating a pizza stone in the oven while it preheats, placing it on the lowest rack.

6. Pat dough out to a diameter of 12-14 inches. (see cooking tips below)

7. Place dough on parchment and slide onto peel, then onto stone in the preheated oven; cook 1-2 minutes, just long enough for the dough to bubble up in areas, then remove from oven.

8. Place provolone cheese slices over the bottom of the crust.

9. Top provolone with the pizza sauce, then sprinkle with dry sauerkraut.

10. Slice meatballs in half and arrange over the kraut; sprinkle green peppers onto pizza.

11. Top with shredded mozzarella, then sprinkle the fried onions over all.

12. Slide pizza from peel back onto the hot pizza stone and bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until pizza is bubbly and as browned on top as you like.

13. Remove from oven and slice into serving pieces.

Cooking tips:

1. Pizza dough can be temperamental. If you find when you try to pat or roll out the dough that it refuses, and simply springs back, the dough needs to relax.

2. What I do to help my dough along is to place the dough on top of my largest inverted stainless mixing bowl, cover it with a piece of parchment and let it rest for 15 minutes. I set a timer and just leave the room so I don’t get impatient and annoyed. If the room is at all cool, I will set a heating pad on high over the top of the parchment. When dough is cold it tenses up.

3. Come back after 15 minutes and pat the dough down the sides of the bowl, turning it if needed and touching up slightly sticky areas with floured fingers. You may need to set the timer and leave again, doing that until you can pat the dough all the way out. It is easy work then to turn the bowl over, and the parchment helps keep you from punching your fingers through thin dough, so keep it on there. The parchment can go straight into the oven, and helps the pizza slide off the peel. I also tug on the parchment to pull the baked pizza back onto the peel quite easily.

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