June 5, 2014
Corn, Bacon, Caramelized Onion, Glazed Figs, Blue Cheese & Mozzarella Flatbread Pizzas
Sounds like a mouthful, huh? It was...literally. OMG these were so good I was sorry I did not make extras but The Nudge was in meetings all week and did not need lunch.
I have seen flat breads topped with fresh figs & blue cheese, some with caramelized onions, but none of those with corn and bacon. So where did I get the inspiration for the toppings? Grab a seat.
I have to admit I found a reality show I could get into. Not sure if it qualifies as a true reality show but it is a series of shows that chronicles a NYC chef with her leaving the NY scene to raise a family & open a restaurant with her husband in rural North Carolina. I think I watched the first episode because North Carolina is where we are heading in a few years. I wanted to see how rural, rural really is. What I did find out was, I think we are retiring at a good foodie time. Large cities are so overgrown with restaurants the pressure to make it is tremendous and the average restaurant that opens is gone in three years.
If I was an up and rising star chef with no where to go, I would move to the "lite" Southern ones (on the fringe, not in the deep). The ones where the Yuppies (Young Urban Professionals) are retiring to in droves. They appreciate good International flavors and creativity in the kitchen, I know we do.
What I like the most about this show, is the fact that the chef takes traditional Southern foods that she grew up on (like a tomato sandwich), twists them just enough to be familiar but in a way that ups the game a few wonderful notches.
The inspiration for my flavor combination is something she serves in her restaurant.
"Grits really are a blank canvas, so don’t shy away from combining a sweet element with this grain. One of our most popular grit creations at the restaurant is a Pimped Grit with stewed figs, caramelized onions, bacon, and blue cheese." - Vivian Howard , A Chef's Life - PBS
How good does that sound. I love grits but The Nudge can take or leave them. I thought I would take those flavors, reinvent them and make a pizza. In amongst the gourmet cheeses, I stumbled on a package of glazed & roasted figs imported by Mt. Vikos, you know, the authentic Greek Feta people. I could have made a nice cheese platter with some goat cheese, nuts and blue's, with maybe a paté but I wanted something more, something completely different, but easy.
Pre-made flat breads can be found in just about every market across the country and the thought of topping them with corn, figs, caramelized onions, bacon, blue cheese and braised rapini, well, just didn't get any better than that. Let's see, we have sweet, salty, bitter, tart, crunchy and creamy.
This is what I did.........
I caramelized one large Vidalia onion. I chopped some pancetta into lardons, added blanched rapini and lots of garlic, some honey, pepper, olive oil and beer to halfway up the food. I covered, lowered the heat and braised that for 45-50 minutes, until the pancetta was melting away, the rapini with sweet and softened and the garlic was roasted to perfection. I sauteed the corn with a balsamic glaze, broke up a wedge of Maytag blue cheese and added that to a grated medium ball of fresh mozzarella. The flat bread will be painted with the fig sauce and then it's just a matter of layering all the goodies.
Top with grated Romano cheese and bake in a 475° oven until the cheese is bubbling and browned. Right before serving, drizzle each with very good olive oil.
It may seem like this pizza has lots going on and you be right, mon... Salty, sweet, spicy crunchy and creamy, it was exactly what I wanted. Serve with a good Rioja or Chianti.
So tell me, what are you having for dinner?
Pimped Up Flat Bread Pizzas
Makes: 3 individual pizzas
* 1 small sweet onion, sliced thin
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1 (1/2-9nch) slice pancetta, chopped
* 2 cups blanched broccoli rabe, cut into 1" pieces
* 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
* Splash of beer or wine
* drizzle of honey
* 1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
* 1 medium ball fresh mozzarella, grated (about 3/4 cup)
* 1/2 cup corn
* 1/2 cup glazed figs or fig jam
* 3 10-inch flat breads
* 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
1. Heat a heavy bottomed stock pot, melt the butter and add the onions. Cover and on low heat, stirring every 20 minutes, cook the onions until they are browned and sweet, about 45-50 minutes. Makes about 1/4 cup.
2. Saute the pancetta in a small saucepan, add the garlic, the blanched broccoli rabe, some honey and about 1/2 cup beer or wine; bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer, cover and braise on low for 25 minutes.
3. Spread each flat bread with an equal amount of figs for fig jam.
4. Top the figs with the braised rapini, then the corn, the caramelized onions and blue cheese crumbles.
5. Heat the oven to 475°F. Sprinkle the mozzarella on the breads and top with the grated Romano.
6. Drizzle olive oil right before placing in the oven.
7. Bake for 15 minutes, then broil until the cheeses brown.
One flat bread per person. Top with extra grated Romano cheese before serving and an optional drizzle of good quality extra-virgin olive oil.