Flatbread with Chilli and Fennel Sausage, Burrata and Herbs
This chilli sausage and burrata flatbread from UK-based chef Gill Meller is spicy, creamy and satisfying. Since he’s known for his outdoor cooking, Gill’s recipe is rustic and simple, relying on flame cooking and quality ingredients.
Gill Meller, the food writer and cookery teacher who often appears on the farming and cooking reality show “River Cottage,” likes to get out of the kitchen. His latest book, Outside: Cooking Outdoors - Recipes for the Wild, shows off his skills with recipes that were created especially for outdoor meals — including this flatbread. Gill describes it as “everything I want to eat, in one place, day or night,” and we understand why. With a supple bread base, burrata (a ridiculously creamy cousin to fresh mozzarella) and spiced sausage, this is a dish that, despite its simplicity, over delivers on flavour. And it’s quick. Using the heat of an Ooni baking stone as the cooking surface, the flatbread bakes in less than two minutes; the sausage cooks in about six minutes.
While Gill often cooks directly on a grill over a fire, we’ve collaborated with him to adapt his recipe for an Ooni oven. If you’d like to replicate the campfire feeling, cook with wood instead of charcoal or gas. While this recipe calls for sausage, Gill offers an easy veggie variation: Use courgettes. “Slice them thinly and fry them the same way, with fennel seeds, chili and garlic,” he advises.
For the flatbread
9 ounces (250 grams) strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
½ teaspoon (5 grams) fine sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
½ teaspoon (1½ grams) quick yeast
5 ounces (150 milliliters) water
1 tablespoon (14 grams) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
For the toppings
1 handful fennel tops (or young basil leaves), roughly chopped, for serving
18 ounces (500 grams) pork sausage (about 6 sausages)
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 to 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed
1 to 2 teaspoons chilli flakes, plus extra for sprinkling
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon (14 grams) extra-virgin olive oil
2 small balls burrata
To make the flatbread, place the flour, salt and yeast in a bowl and add 150 milliliters (5 fluid ounces) of water and the extra-virgin olive oil. Mix everything thoroughly until it forms a dough.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for about 10 minutes, until soft and smooth. Shape the dough into a rough round and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a clean cloth and leave the dough to rise in a warm place for 1½ to 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
Tip: Dough can be made up to one day ahead. If making ahead, cover it at this stage and place it in the fridge. Later, when working with the cold dough, it will need to rest for about 20 minutes before shaping.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, then cut it into 2 equal pieces. Using your hands, form each piece into a nice, neat round and leave the rounds to rest for 20 minutes or so. When you’re ready to cook the flatbreads, shape each piece of dough into a thin round, about 12 inches. (You can do this by hand, or with a rolling pin, if you like.) Don’t worry if they’re not especially round; that doesn’t matter.
If using now, take this time to roughly chop your fennel tops or basil leaves.
When you’re ready to bring it all together, split the sausage skins and crumble the meat into a bowl. Add the garlic, fennel seeds, chilli flakes, and a little extra salt and black pepper. Mix this together thoroughly.
Heat your oven to 500°F (260°C). Place a cast iron skillet in the oven and let it heat up for 5 minutes. Remove the pan and add the olive oil.
Crumble in the spiced sausage meat and return to the oven for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the oven, mix the meat and return to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until fully cooked. Let it crisp and caramelise in places. Remove the cast iron pan and keep the sausage warm. (You can do this by simply covering the pan with foil. )
Heat your oven up to 750°F (400°C).
Sprinkle a pizza peel lightly with flour and gently drag the flatbread onto it. Launch the bread into the oven and cook for 30 seconds. When the back begins to bubble and brown, turn the flatbread for an even cook. They should cook in 60 to 90 seconds.
Place the flatbread on a cutting board, drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Tear the burrata over the bread, letting it fall however it wants to fall. Use a spatula to scrape the hot, crumbly sausage over the cheese, along with all the spicy, fennel-y fat from the pan.
Finish with a few extra chilli flakes, and if you like, a scattering of chopped fennel tops or basil leaves and a healthy last drizzle of olive oil
Gill Meller is a UK-based chef, award-winning food writer, food stylist and cookery teacher. He works closely with chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and River Cottage and appears regularly on the celebrated Channel 4 series. A contributor to the Observer, Guardian, Waitrose Food, Telegraph and Country Living (to name but a few), Gill’s regular recipe column can be found in the award-winning delicious. magazine every month. Gill's first book, Gather (2016), won the Fortnum & Mason Award for Best Debut Food Book, and both Time (2018) and Root, Stem, Leaf, Flower (2020) were nominated for the Guild of Food Writers Cookbook of the Year. He is also the author of the River Cottage Handbook on Outdoor Cooking and, more recently, Outside: Cooking Outdoors - Recipes for the Wild (2022). Gill lives and works near the small fishing town of Lyme Regis, in Dorset.