Spicy Italian Sausage, Onion and Banana Pepper French Bread Pizza/Solemn Oath Lü/The Judge “Tell it to the Judge”
Being a child of the 80s, French bread pizza has a special place in our hearts. Not sure when this delicious hybrid was released as a frozen food but we’re pretty sure it hit its heyday in the 80s where everyone’s freezer we knew had at least a couple of boxes of Stouffers in it. Almost three decades later, most of us are still trying to grow back the skin on the roofs of our mouths that were scorched to oblivion by idiotically sinking our collective teeth into the pizza bread version of lava. We say all this to say….we’re bringing back that childhood treat tonight in grown up fashion! Cheesy garlic bread acts as the crust that gets topped with a homemade pizza sauce, sliced mozzarella, spicy rings of spicy Italian sausage, banana peppers and red onion sautéed in olive oil and Bootlicker and topped with Parmesan. Looking for a crisp, refreshing beer to pair these up with, we looked no further than Lü, a kölsch from one of our favorite breweries, Solemn Oath in neighboring Naperville. For the tunes, we spun yet another killer new release, this time around from The Judge and the aptly titled “Tell it to the Judge”.
Spicy Italian Sausage, Onion and Banana Pepper French Bread Pizza – Let’s get started on this super simple weekday meal beginning with the sauce. We’re going to start the sauce off like our arrabiata sauce but we’re going to crank up the heat a little more and let it cook longer for a thicker, more concentrated pizza sauce. In a sauce pan we warm some olive oil then we add some fresh garlic and basil and stir for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Then we add a can of tomato sauce and a couple tablespoons of Bootlicker (or other Italian seasoning).
As the sauce is cooking down, we can turn our attention to the veggies. We get some olive oil going in a sauté pan then toss in 2 thinly sliced red onions and a large banana pepper sliced into thin rings. Season with copious amounts of Bootlicker.
We’re looking to get these pretty soft, so we’ll let them cook down for 15-20 minutes or so then remove from heat.
The last thing we need to cook is the sausage. Thankfully we still have some homemade Italian sausage in the freezer, but any Italian sausage will work for this recipe. We need the grill at about a medium heat for these. We don’t want it too hot so the skin chars and pops open, we’re going to gently brown all sides evenly by rotating them often.
That’s pretty much it for the prep, now we can build and bake. By this time the tomato sauce should be fairly thick so we’re going to start by smearing a thin layer of that on a thick loaf of garlic bread.
Next up we scatter the peppers and onions on top of the sauce.
Then we move on to the sausage that we sliced into rings and cover pretty much every square inch of the bread.
Now it’s time for the cheese. First mozzarella to cover the whole thing then a sprinkling of Parmesan on top as well as a little more Bootlicker.
The whole thing gets popped into a 425 degree oven for the bread to warm and the cheese to melt, then we switch over to broil mode for the cheese to brown a little bit more. Served with a cold beer, its our delicious version of 80s pizza and beer.
Solemn Oath Lü – If there was ever a week to see a kölsch from the normally hop heavy hands of the brewers from Naperville’s Solemn Oath, the week of the solar eclipse would be it. Since we haven’t had a beer we haven’t loved from these guys, we were more than happy to jump into Lü (that is the name of it, we couldn’t decipher it on the can at first and had to google it, now that’s all we see) . The beer pours a pale yellow and is almost transparent with a wispy bright white head. The aroma is slight with some citrus and herb faintly coming through along with some nutty malts. The flavor is pretty spot-on for a kölsch-style beer with a pleasingly bitter yet bright taste. The cool thing about this beer is the almost cream ale-like mouthfeel it possesses and the sweet malty goodness of Cap’n Crunch. It’s delicious. The pairing was a classic too; a light and easy drinking beer alongside a hearty and spicy pizza.
The Judge “Tell it to the Judge” – Man, it doesn’t seem that long ago that we came across this band on Bandcamp and were blown away by their debut. Since then we wished that debut would be released on vinyl which happened when they were signed by the amazing Ripple music last year. We also had the privilege of booking them for our Stoner Rock BBQ Party at the Yard fest a couple of years ago on a frigid night in Indy. Next on the wishlist was a new album and that time came this month with the tongue in cheek titled “Tell it to the Judge”. The new album kicks off with “Empty Halls” a raw garage rocker with a “Communication Breakdown”-esque riff and Deep Purple groove. “From the Mountain” is a monster psychedelic rock tune with a spot on Sabbathy break in the middle of it. One of the best songs on the album is “Strange Ways” combining Josefus with another tasty Zeppelin-like riff, this time a play on “Good Times, Bad Times”. Toss in a killer solo and you’ve got all the makings of a killer tune that needs to be cranked up loud. Sticking with the heavy 70s rock comparisons, “Changing Worlds” sounds like it could’ve came off one of Nugent’s first three albums from the guitar tone all the way to the Derek St. Holmes vocals and is another of the album’s highlights. After an absolutely smoking start to the album, side 1 ends with the dark and grungy “Islands” recalling Alice in Chain’s slower work. Side 2 starts out with a nice slab of heavy blues rock on “Go on Home” recalling Free both instrumentally and vocally. The boys jam out Spooky Tooth-style a bit on the building heavy psychedelic 7+ minute epic “High Flyin'”. It’s yet another candidate for the album’s top track. The album closes with “Parade of Sin” that is as jazzy as it is rock and roll bringing with it a huge dose of Grand Funk in its delivery. This release is absolutely killer and a clinic on what 70s rock and roll is all about. It’ll definitely be up there on ours as well as many others’ year end top ten list for 2017.