I am a self-proclaimed pizza snob. I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, home of the most glorious deep dish pizza ever crafted, Giordano’s. When I move someplace or travel somewhere new, I secretly judge their quality of life based on the pizza that I find. Pizza is my guilty pleasure and one of those foods I think I could eat every day if I needed (or wanted) to. Needless to say, when I moved to the Quad Cities region, I was excited to hear that they too had their own special pizza. Let me fill you in on some history for those who have never heard of Quad Cities pizza:
Many years ago, two pizza companies opened in the Quad Cities. This river area shares the borders of Illinois and Iowa overlooking the Mississippi. Both companies knew there was a need for pizza here since they were just far enough away from Chicago. Both Harris and Happy Joe’s Pizza claim to have created and designed what is now known as Quad City Pizza. This pizza is cut in long strips instead of slices, but most notably, the go-to topping is not what many would expect. Here, the pizza of choice is Taco Pizza. Yes, that’s right, tacos on pizza.
This monstrosity features a thin crust, a ground beef and bean mixture slathered on the bottom, a mountain of cheese, fresh tomatoes, sour cream, lettuce, Dorito crumbles, and hot sauce on the side. I think in total it weighs about 30 pounds for a large. Needless to say, I am not a huge fan.
Stories aside, you’ll notice from my featured image, that mine does not look quite the same. Although take-out may be easier for dishes and prep time, I like to think my homemade crust, toppings, and more make up for the flavor and salt content alone. This pizza is almost guilt-free as every step can be customized based on dietary restrictions, likes, and dislikes. This very simple pizza crust is courtesy of the Pioneer Woman cookbook, and the toppings can be exchanged to fit just about every discerning palette. Enjoy!
Sarah’s Simple Homemade Taco Pizza
- 1 scant teaspoon active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup warm water (not too hot or you’ll kill the yeast!)
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 2 cups flour
- 2-4 tablespoons olive oil (this will depend on the day, humidity, etc)
- Pizza Toppings:
- 1lb ground beef
- 1 15oz can of black beans, drained well
- 1 packet of your favorite seasoning of taco mix
- 1 bag of Monterey jack or Colby jack cheese
- Fresh tomatoes, avocados, taco sauce, sour cream, lettuce, tortilla chips, olives, onions, etc. to taste
- For the crust: Mix the water and yeast together in a small bowl, and let the mixture bloom for 10 minutes. After, pour the yeast and water into a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the salt and flour. Lower the paddle and set to low speed. Add olive oil in batches to make sure it is incorporated. Stop the mixer when all ingredients are incorporated.
- Turn the dough out into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it sit on the counter for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Combine black beans (or refried or pinto if you prefer) and ground beef in a skillet and brown the meat. When browned, add your taco seasoning according to package instructions.
- Roll out the crust and place on a baking sheet. This recipe will yield a standard baking sheet size dough (about 1/2 inch thick)
- Spread the meat and bean mixture liberally over the crust. It should use all of the mix.
- Top the pizza with cheese. I love a cheesy pizza, so I use a whole bag. If you are not as big a fan, cut back.
- Bake this in the oven for 12-15 minutes. Yum.
- When is done, set out your additional topping choices. If it goes on a taco, it’s great on this pizza. I let people top their own so that everyone gets what they like- just like a taco bar. The crust should be flaky and crispy on the edge, with chew in the middle. Cut in whatever shape you like.