I know that pizza started in Naples, Italy. I know that the first one ever made was inspired by Queen Margherita of Savoy in the late 1800’s and only had a handful of ingredients- tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil. And I also know that the culinary heavens opened up that day upon the Queen’s approval and the history of pizza would take on many lifeforms for generations to come. Since then, pizza made its way across the pond and has developed a regional personality. Iowans have developed a certain love for this beautiful cheesy pie, just like the rest of the country. We don’t have our own “style’ of crust that are typical in place like New York, Chicago, Detroit, or California. We love all the classic toppings the rest of the country enjoys and many of us seek eclectic creations from all over the state. But, there are three styles of pizza that have stapled their way into the Iowa culture. They may not have started here, but Iowans have take to them like a duck to a can of anchovies. Which is great on pizza in my opinion. I’m talking about the duck too. Team Goodvin huddled up and went shopping and brought home the ingredients to make a meal that would bring a nostalgic tear to anyone homesick for Iowa. Give the delivery guy a break and rev-up your own oven. It’s pizza night in Iowa!
Let’s go back to Marion, IA during the 80’s. It’s Friday night and the Dukes of Hazard is on TV and my brother and I are smashing through a delivery from the local Happy Joe’s. A sauerkraut and ham pizza and a taco pizza! Our mom manages to get a hold of a couple slices and tolerates our favorite show for a half hour while she awaits her favorite lineup of shows. Falcon Crest and Dallas. That’s right. Friday night with the Dukes, that sly J.R. Ewing, the crabby cast of Falcon Crest, and Happy Joe’s pizza were our living room companions for many, many nights. I remembered trying to keep my mind occupied so that the anticipation of the delivery guy’s knock on the door wouldn’t drive me or my mom insane. I had the same game plan every night. When the pizza got there, I would pick the slice of taco that had the most cheese flavored tortilla chips on it and grab any of the crumbs that were rendered in the bottom of the box. Squirt a little sour cream on the tops and go through about 30 packets of taco sauce. And to show that I was a big boy, I’d have a slice of sauerkraut and ham. Two styles of pizza I grew up on and never thought they were anything but normal. Until I moved to Arizona in the late 90’s. Taco……PIZZA? The common reaction to many from the Grand Canyon State. I guess my version of a fine Mexican fare was a little different from theirs. My palate would change and I would soon start to love what the region did well. At times my mind would wonder and I’d start to crave the pizza that was basically a taco salad spread over dough. And to this day, I haven’t found a region that embraces the concept of sauerkraut & ham pizza like us Iowans do. Weirdos!
Whats our breakdown and recipe? I knew you would be wondering. We’re dealing with very hungry kids, so we’ll be taking a handful of this, a scoop of that, a please stop eating that or we won’t have enough for the pizza, and no that’s been on the floor so please don’t put that on my pizza. Let’s get back to taco time……
I prefer to toast the English muffins a little bit in the oven for about 5 minutes at 400 degrees. This makes the pizzas a little more crispy. We started with taco pizza prep. On each slice of muffin spread some of the queso sauce on the top followed by the fully cooked pizza chorizo and some Colby-Jack cheese. Cook in the oven for about 10-12 minutes or until the cheese has melted and browned a little on the top. Right before you serve them, add a dollop of guacamole and the desired amount of Doritos. Because no one should ever be told to stop with those. Drizzle some prepared taco sauce over…..everything and place over some crisp lettuce for dramatic effect and because you need your veggies.
Now for the sauerkraut and ham deliciousness. Start by spreading some prepared pizza sauce on the top of the English muffins followed by some sauerkraut and then mozzarella cheese. Next, add some cubed ham and a little more cheese and sauerkraut. Bake for about 12 minutes or until the top layer of kraut starts to crisp a little. I like to put a little horseradish on mine when it’s done. You will like this pizza. You just don’t know it yet.
For eleven years, I traveled around the country after living in Iowa my whole life. Casey’s General Stores were already an Iconic Iowa based company in the 1990’s but I remembered them being in hundreds of little towns across the Iowa map with a few in the Des Moines area, but almost exclusively in smaller communities. Growing up in Iowa City, my only memories of their fresh pizza was on road trips and visits to see family in Early and Corning, IA. Upon arrival to the Iowa City area in 2010, Casey’s was now all over Iowa and branching out all over the mid-west. And with it’s expansion came the breakfast pizza boom! We even got Mila Kunis hooked on the stuff now. Nice work, Ashton!
Take your favorite prepared cheese sauce and spread it across the top of the English muffins. (Hey…..We know there’s badass recipes to do this from scratch I even know a few. I’m grabbing the cheese packet from the box of kids Velveeta shells and cheese. And I’m OK with that.) Next, add the scrambled eggs followed by the raw bell peppers, raw onion, and cooked crumbled bacon. Top with Colby-Jack cheese and more bacon. Let this one go for about 15 minutes on 400 and let the Colby-Jack tighten everything up. Like any breakfast, eat this pizza while it still blisters your mouth. Repeat the next day.
Like the sight of cauliflower ear, it’s the little things that make you miss Iowa. I would start thinking of home whenever someone said “river town” in conversation. Driving in the middle of nowhere and only picking up AM radio and smiling as I listened to 30 minutes of crop reports and futures. Or having to describe what a “supper club” was. Living abroad? Test out the local pizza shop for old times sake and ask for extra kraut and see what they say. And then make sure to tell them it’s not a prank.
Please take time to visit…….
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