Think of this sausage appetizer as pizza's snowflake cousin from California that will never be like pizza, but they have so much in common going for them.
There are no rules here, and puff pastry is your plain canvas, open to many possibilities in your fridge! With that said, I like adding a lot of sausage and onion to it, increasing my protein and vegetable ratio to carb (puff pastry).
Finally, I'm ending this post by telling you a short story about the sausage.
As you may know, I'm also an accountant by training and went to business school. Once, I had a law professor who said, "they are two things in life that you don't want to see how they are made; First is the "sausage," and second is the law." We all laughed hard, and I shall remember this anecdote every time I cook the sausage or deal with a legal situation, for that matter.
There was a time when I wanted to know what was in my hotdog or sausage, but somehow, I moved on from those troubling thoughts and decided to eat the anecdotal mouse tail flavored heavily with garlic powder and sodium and mixed in the sausage meat. The truth is that with moderation, our body can handle the worse of stuff, so have a sausage, my friend!
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (10" x15"), defrosted
2 lb. bratwurst sausage (about 7-8 links)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced into small squares
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly milled black pepper to taste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp Aleppo pepper (if not available, use paprika powder)
3 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 small red onion, sliced into 1/4" pieces
1) Defrost puff pastry overnight in the refrigerator and leave it out at room temperature for about 10 minutes before unrolling it.
2) Cover a 13" by 18" sheet pan with parchment paper over a layer of foil for easy cleaning.
3) Remove sausages from the casing. Place a 12" nonstick pan over medium heat, and arrange sausage meat in the pan. With a flat utensil, break each sausage into very small pieces. Toss and turn sausages frequently to render oil. Once all sides are golden-brown, remove the sausages using a slotted utensil and discard the grease.
4) Heat the olive oil in your sausage pan, and add the diced onions. Season with a dash of salt, black pepper, and sauté until lightly golden, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic, tomato paste, and Aleppo pepper, stirring everything, and sauté 2-3 more minutes. Add in browned sausages to sautéed mixture and cook everything over medium-low heat for 3 minutes until flavors combine. Set aside.
5) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
6) Place the defrosted puff pastry over a clean counter surface, and unroll it gently until flat. Gently lift it up with both hands, and transfer it to the lined-up sheet pan.
7) Divide mozzarella cheese into half and spread 1.5 cups evenly over the dough. Then, gently spread the sausage mixture over the cheese. Next, top it with red onions. Finally, spread out the remaining mozzarella in a polka dot fashion, so the finished dish shows off all ingredients.
8) Bake for 30 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden brown. Allow to cool 15 minutes, and with a sharp knife, cut to bite size squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Be ready to assemble the toppings right after the puff pastry has been rolled out. If not prepared, place the pastry on its lined-up sheet pan and put it in the refrigerator until ready to assemble.
- Do not rush through the process of browning sausages. Keep them on medium heat so that they can cook evenly. Cooking sausage on high heat will toughen its texture.
- I prefer parchment paper to foil. Cheese easily sticks to foil and makes it harder to separate the pastry after baking. Parchment paper also does not react with the food, and it may be safer for direct contact with food applications.
- Substitute pork sausage with chicken or turkey varieties available in kosher and halal styles if your diet restricts pork consumption.