Oh, how I love today! Today is the day I wait for all year. Today is the holiest of holy days in Indiana. Today, come 7pm, the streets of my fine state will be empty, the sports bars will be full and us Hoosiers will finally get to let our basketball-obsessed freak flags fly. Today is the day that we get to put on our stripes, crack open a six-pack and scream at the television until we’re hoarse.
Today, my friends, is the first day of basketball season. Today, is the first IU basketball game of the season. Today, is totally awesome.
This is my excited face.
I know a lot of people don’t get it (and don’t care) so I’m not going to bore you rambling about how my Indiana Hoosiers are ranked pre-season #1. Or how proud I am of the boys on that team (and their 3.1 average GPA), our beloved coach and the whole amazing Hoosier Nation. Or how much the pain of the last decade has been totally worth it to reach this point. Or how Indiana Basketball is my culture, my soul and my religion all wrapped up in one (you think I’m over-exaggerating—I’m not).
Instead, I’m gonna give you a pizza recipe!
If you’ve ever spent any time in pretty much any college town, you know that pizza is a pretty freakin’ big deal there. Bloomington (the home of IU) is no different. There are no less that five really incredible, affordable, award-winning pizza chains in town. I have a soft spot in my heart for each of them.
The thin crust cheese pizza from Pizza X pretty much fueled my entire Freshman year in the dorms. Bacon, pineapple and feta deep dish from Mother Bear’s is pizza perfection. The cheesy bread (with ranch sauce) from Mad Mushroom got me through more than one late night working on my thesis. And Aver’s? Well Aver’s speciality pizzas are what my refined-ish adult palette craved after I graduated. They are to die for. And one of their most celebrated specialty pizzas is the beloved Cream and Crimson Pizza.
Named for the IU school colors, the Cream and Crimson is a little bit of a pizza weirdo. It’s got a creamy garlic alfredo sauce as it’s base (the “Cream” part of the name) and it’s topped with thinly-sliced roasted red potatoes (the “Crimson” part), bacon, cheddar and gorgonzola cheeses. Health food, it is not. But it is insanely delicious. And totally different from your run-of-the-mill red sauce with mozzarella.
There are a few things I miss about living in Bloomington but two of the biggies are (a) being 10 minutes away from Assembly Hall and (b) ordering Aver’s.
Since I can’t order Aver’s to celebrate this most special of evenings, I decided to take things into my own
Like I said above, this pizza is definitely an “in moderation” kind of food. I wouldn’t recommend eating it for each of the upcoming 30+ regular season basketball games. But for a special night in Hoosier Country? It’s perfect.
May your college basketball team of choice have a stupendous season! That is, until they play the Hoosiers, then may they be crushed terrifically by the overwhelming skill and talent of my team! Huzzah!
Cream and Crimson Pizza
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Makes: 1 extra large pizza (12 slices)
Inspired by Aver’a Pizza in Bloomington, Indiana, this pizza is the perfect way to celebrate the start of basketball season. Skip your regular red sauce pizza this Friday night and instead try out this gourmet pizza made with alfredo sauce, roasted dill potatoes, bacon and gorgonzola.
- 1 batch whole wheat pizza dough
- 1 pound red potatoes, sliced thinly
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh dill, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 cup skim milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 4 ounces crumbled gorgonzola cheese
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- Spray a large pizza pan with cooking spray and stretch batch of pizza dough to fit. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, combine potato slices and olive oil until potato slices are well-coated. Add in dill, garlic powder, pepper and salt and toss until evenly distributed. Spread potato slices onto a baking sheet in one layer and roast in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until potatoes start to brown and turn soft. Remove from oven and set aside. Increase oven heat to 475°.
- While the potatoes are cooking, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add in flour and whisk constantly for about 3 minutes while mixture cooks. Reduce heat and whisk in milk and heavy cream. Cook over medium-low heat until sauce is the consistency of alfredo sauce. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese until melted. Set aside.
- To assemble pizza, spread sauce onto prepared pizza crust. Layer roasted potato slices over sauce, then top with crumbled bacon and gorgonzola. End by covering pizza in shredded cheddar cheese.
- Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until crust is browned and cheese is bubbly. Cut into 12 slices and serve with some really good beer.