Apple, Bacon and Onion Pizza
A reader connected me the other day with Jeff Varasano's New York Pizza Recipe, a site about one obsessed man's quest to duplicate in his home kitchen the great New York style slices he's had in their makers' parlors. Along the way he says that if you come across a recipe like the one I use for dough (yeast, water, salt, food processor, 2 risings) you should "run away screaming" (he recommends a sourdough crust). Later he explains how to modify your home oven to attain the 800º temperatures required to get that special New York style scorched-crisp crust (easy: just cut off the locking latch that normally prevents you from opening the oven during the cleaning cycle).
I have a lot of respect for this guy, as I do for Jeffrey Steingarten and Peter Reinhart and all the other seekers who work to reproduce authenticity in their home kitchens. After all, it's a lot of work to reverse engineer food that developed over generations and spans continents, even if it is more than passing similar to starting tribute band to mimic my favorite metal artists. After I gave up trying to decide whether "reproduce authenticity" is an oxymoron, I got to thinking about the legitimacy of my "run away screaming" dough and the pizzas I bake for 20 minutes in my puny 450º oven (Verasano says his take 2-1/2 minutes).
No, it's not an exact reproduction of the excellent pizza you can get in Venice, Calabria, New York or New Haven. But it's pretty good food you can make in any home kitchen, and since my basic approach to cooking is to try to riff a little on the established recipes and make something that satisfies me and my guests, it's something that I'll keep doing as long as new ideas keep coming. Authentic or not, it rings my bell....
Ok, now that I got that out of my system, a few words about this week's pizza. With the advent of crisp golden days of the Maine fall, I always get the primordial urge to cook with apples, and (for savory dishes) if there are apples on the cutting board onions and bacon can't be far off. This was an extremely satisfying attempt at a dish with these ingredients, certainly due to some extent to the use of hand-smoked slab bacon.
Apple, Bacon and Onion Pizza
1/2 recipe pizza dough
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced in thin slices
4 slices lean bacon, preferably cut from a hand-smoked slab
2 T butter
3/4 C dry white wine
1 medium onion, in thin slices
2 T olive oil
2 oz fresh mozzarella, shredded
2 oz Parmigiano Reggiano, shredded
6 leaves fresh sage
2 T fresh rosemary, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
Sauté the bacon for a few minutes on medium low heat, then add the wine and sage, cover and braise on low heat for about 15 minutes. Remove the bacon to a side plate and cut in pieces. Add the butter and apple slices to the pan and sauté over medium low heat, tossing gently with tongs, for about 5 minutes until the apples begin to soften. Remove from heat.
When the dough has finished the second rising, spread the olive oil over the shell and then the onions. Bake 10 minutes on the preheated stone in a 450º oven. Add the cheeses and rosemary and then the apple slices. Scatter on the bacon. Lower the temperature to 400º and bake another 10 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Brush the crust with a little olive oil, scatter on the scallions, slice and serve.