Thursday, January 13, 2011

pizza with bacon, onions and cream

alsatian pizza

I am busted. Someone figured out that I made this over a week ago and have been holding out on you and called me out on it. Guilty as charged. I know nobody will believe me, but I swear, sometimes I just come up blank. I keep trying to figure out how I can convince you that you should make this now, right now, but I’m having a hard time. It’s January, after all, the month of absolving (oneself of having eaten a lot bacon) and resolving (to stop eating so much bacon), and I suspect that the last thing people want to be taunted with is a homemade pizza, creamy tangy base, lightly caramelized onions and thick crunchy salty smoky-sweet — that’s right — bacon lardons. Plus, we think this goes best with a generous glass of crisp white wine.

thick cut bacon

All of which isn’t very “January” of me, and truthfully, I’d intended to squeeze this recipe in right before New Years, as tiny flatbreads for a cocktail party, for people like me who always forget to eat dinner before we go to a party but feel kind of terrible when we eat nothing but tortilla chips, salsa, various cheeses on crackers and cocktails for dinner. Mini-dinner food is the answer. But New Years was a blur and a few days into January I realized I had slab bacon and crème fraîche on the decine in my fridge. One should never let either go to waste.

onions, to caramelize a bit

assembling on the saddest trays, ever

When I got to work on these little pizzas, however, I quickly remembered why I love this dish so much, and can rarely resist it on a restaurant menu. While its ingredient list is nothing but heavy, rich things, it manages to go easy on all of them. With a glass of wine (ahem, or sippy cup of water for Rocket Boy) and an ample green salad, maybe with a few of these on the side, it never feels like a heavy meal, just a welcome one.

my funny flatbreads

One year ago: Poppy Seed Lemon Cake
Two years ago: Almond Vanilla Rice Pudding
Three years ago: Crunchy Baked Pork Chops
Four years ago: English Muffins and Salade Lyonnaise

Pizza with Bacon, Onions and Cream [Alsatian Pizza]
Adapted from André Soltner via Food & Wine

The richness of the creamy cheese against the faint sweetness of the onions, the crunch of the crust and a smoky salty bacon finish is what makes this dish. This dish goes by everything from flammekueche (Alsatian), Flammkuchen (German) to tarte flambée; the flame is in reference to the ovens that would bake it, so hot that it would char the edges of the crust. It is sometimes made with crème fraîche, other times with fromage blanc (which is like quark, or even a fat-free cream cheese) but I liked this version, with both but the suggested swaps of the more accessible ricotta and sour cream. The onions are not always cooked first, but I like them lightly caramelized. It’s often rolled into a square or rectangle, but I can’t be bothered to make pizza into any shape other than round-ish blobs. Um, it’s “rustic”!

As for the pizza dough, if you’ve got a recipe you like or a storebought one that saves you drama, use it. If you want to make a new one, my Really Simple Pizza Dough will yield about a 10-ounce dough, or 2 ounces extra and I will not tell a soul if you make a tiny Nutella-filled dessert calzone with the extra. Pinky swear.

Serves 4 for a light dinner with a salad; can be divided to 8 appetizer portions or 16 tiny party portions

1/2 pound pizza dough
Olive oil, for oiling baking sheets
1/2 cup fromage blanc or ricotta
1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 pound thickly sliced smoky bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
1 medium onion, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 450°F. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon crisps up. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Add onion to skillet and cook until softened and beginning to caramelize, an amount of time I forgot to write down but would estimate at 7 to 10 minutes.

Whisk together (or blend together in a food processor, if you want it silky-smooth) fromage blanc and crème fraîche with flour, then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece out to a rough 8-inch round, about 1/8 inch thick. If the dough becomes difficult to roll, let it rest for 10 minutes, then continue.

Oil two large baking sheets. Transfer two dough rounds to each. Spread the fromage blanc mixture over the rounds to within 1/4 inch of the edge. Sprinkle with the bacon and onion. Bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for about 12 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Cut into wedges and serve.


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