LITTLE MAC - New York-Style Pizza with Fennel Italian Sausage
Updated: Oct 7, 2021
A new recipe enters the ring: its time for a dish inspired by Little Mac, Punch-Out's lightweight champion!
Coming up with a recipe for Mac was difficult because, unlike most of the other Smash fighters, he doesn't have many unique powers or fantastical skills - he's just an ordinary human boxer. The main fact about Little Mac that I had to go off of is that he hails from New York. Luckily, New York is a city very well known for its food! The cuisine of NYC has a notable Italian influence, due to the city's sizable Italian-American community. Little Mac is Italian-American too, so the answer seemed inevitable: New York-style pizza!
Yes, an ordinary pizza recipe isn't the most creative recipe I've posted to the blog, but I think that's okay! For a roster as diverse and varied as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's, not every character is going to result in a complex, multi-layered recipe - sometimes a simple-yet-effective pizza is all you need!
Little Mac is specifically from the Bronx - so, I did some research into the styles of pizza that this borough is most famous for. One of the Bronx's most famous pizza joints is Louie & Ernie's, famous for their signature pie topped with fennel sausage. So, I decided to make a homemade fennel Italian sausage to put on top of this pizza, to add a little bit of that Bronx flair! I've included options for making spicy Italian sausage if you want your pizza to pack a fitting "KO punch" of flavor!
The basic dough for this recipe is adapted from Adam Ragusea's homemade New-York-style pizza recipe. Check it out for some great insight into the technical side of making pizza at home! The best homemade New York-style pizza is should be made with a pizza steel or a pizza stone - but this is certainly not a requirement. You could also use the flat underside of a cookie sheet or even a cast-iron pan - these cooking surfaces will make perfectly fine pizzas, though might impact the cooking time and the crust's texture & doneness. The benefit of pizza steels and stones is that they are highly thermally conductive and serve as a nice even cooking surface, so if you want to seriously get into home pizza-making, I'd recommend investing in one.
Overall, this went quite well for my first try making pizza entirely from scratch! I wasn't able to get the crust as thin as I wanted, so perhaps that disqualifies my pizza from being called a proper "New York-style" pie... but I did my best, and I hope you will give it your best shot too! (Hopefully you will have better luck achieving the iconic thin crust than me!)
2 ¼ cups warm water
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for greasing bowls
1 tbsp kosher salt
5 cups (600g) all-purpose flour (if you like a particularly chewy crust, use bread flour instead!)
Cornmeal or semolina flour, for dusting
2 tbsp olive oil
3-5 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried red pepper flake
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 lb ground pork
3 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp coarsely crushed fennel seed
2 finely grated garlic cloves
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried basil
2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (add more if you want it spicy)
2 tsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional, only if you want hot Italian sausage)
Parmesan, for grating on top
4 cups grated low-moisture mozzarella
Combine water, honey, and yeast in the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with a dough hook (or, if you plan on kneading by hand, just combine in a large bowl). Let sit for about five minutes, to test if the yeast is alive - if it goes foamy, its ready to go!
Add olive oil, salt, and flour. Mix until just combined, then start kneading, gradually adding extra flour as needed to make sure the dough isn't too sticky. Knead until dough can be stretched into a thin sheet without tearing.
Divide the dough into three equal-sized balls and put into three glass containers. (divide into four balls if you want to make four smaller pizzas, or two balls if you want to make two large pizzas - this will of course depend on the size of your pizza cooking surface!)
Lightly coat the dough balls and containers with olive oil. Cover and let rise at room temperature for two hours – or, for an even better taste, place in the refrigerator and slow rise for 24 hours.
Meanwhile, make the sauce: heat olive oil in a medium saucepan and cook garlic for a few minutes until fragrant.
Add herbs, red pepper flakes, and tomato paste. Stir, and cook until tomato paste is just beginning to deepen in color.
Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and lemon juice, stirring and scraping the bottom of the saucepan. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook for about half an hour until thick and reduced. Check for seasoning and add more salt if needed. Remove from heat and set aside.
Add ground pork, salt, black pepper, fennel, garlic, parsley, paprika, onion powder, oregano, basil, red pepper flake, vinegar, and brown sugar to a food processor. Pulse until a smooth paste forms.
In two or three batches, press sausage meat into a thin patty and fry in a pan over medium heat, using a spatula to break into coarse crumbles. Cook until fully browned, then set aside.
Preheat a pizza stone or pizza steel on your oven's highest temperature, for at least a full hour.
Generously dust a pizza peel or thin cutting board with cornmeal or semolina.
Stretch a dough ball by lifting in the air, grasping around the edges to form the raised 'crust' and allow gravity to stretch the rest of the dough into a thin base (check out the video linked above to see this technique in action). Stretch to the widest size that will fit on your cooking surface. Try to get it as thin as possible, as thin crust is the main characteristic of New York-style pizza!
Coat the surface with a thin layer of sauce. Cover sauce layer with grated parmesan, then the grated mozzarella. Top with your crumbled sausage.
Carefully but confidently slide the pizza onto the preheated stone/steel and bake until the crust is nicely browned and the cheese is melted & golden brown. This should take less than 10 minutes because of how hot the oven & cooking surface is - it will cook fast, so watch closely to avoid burning!
Repeat for each dough balls. Slice pizza and serve.
TOP TIER TIPS:
Grating a large block of cheese is much easier if you put it in the freezer for about half an hour to firm up!
Don't worry if you can't stretch the dough into a perfectly circular crust - imperfection is all part of the charm of homemade cooking!
Elements of this recipe were created with the help of my generous patrons! If you'd like to help me create future recipes, consider supporting me on Patreon!