Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My Version of Pissaladiere: A Funky French Pizza

So what is "pissaladiere?" 

It's a pizza-like dish that originated from Nice, located in the southern region of France. So yes, this is a French pizza. 




The dough is typically a bread dough thicker than the classic Italian Pizza Margherita, but there are really no rules. Why? Because it will be your pizza and you can choose whatever kind of crust you prefer.

What makes this "pissaladiere?" It's about the toppings. Now first off, you need to know that it gets its name from the Latin word piscis (fish), which became pissalat meaning "salted fish." Pissalat (or pissala) is a type of an anchovy paste,
 a condiment also originating from Nice. This condiment is made with anchovy puree and flavored with cloves, thyme, bay leaf and black pepper mixed with olive oil. Sometimes this French classic will even be covered with whole anchovies.


Wait! Come back! Don't let the anchovies turn you away! If you don't like anchovies, then don't use the anchovy paste or the whole bodied tiny fishies. Just concentrate on the rest of the toppings! 
The rest of the toppings? Caramelized onions, herbs, and black olives. Now do I have your attention? For me, this pizza is all about the caramelized onions. 



Where's the cheese, you ask? Pissaladiere doesn't have cheese. Typically, olive oil is the base instead of the Italian red sauce. However, add cheese if you want, but keep it somewhat old world traditional and thoughtful. Don't add mozzarella. That's too easy. Use Raclette, Comte, or even Fontina cheese - - semi-soft cheeses - - and don't smother the top of your pissaladiere with cheese. Add the cheese to your base. Let the onions, olives, and even the anchovies be your toppings.


Are you ready to start? Use your favorite pizza dough recipe, or buy a frozen pizza crust at the store. Okay, so if you want to do it quick and easy, use the Pillsbury pizza or even the crescent doughs. Another tip? Use a sheet of the Pepperidge Farms puff pastry. It will give you a nice light and airy crust, so the toppings will be the true star.  

There are no exact ingredients for this. Just get creative and enjoy the flavors of sauteed onions, herbs, olives, and even fishies... 

Ingredients (topping for one pissaladiere):

1/4 cup good olive oil, plus extra for brushing
2 pounds yellow onions, halved and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or dried Herbes de Provence
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 whole cloves garlic
12 French (Nicoise) pitted black olives, or even Kalmata pitted olives. Slice or leave whole.
12 to 18 anchovy fillets or brush anchovy paste lightly on the crust (optional).

Optional:
Around 1 cup shredded semi-soft cheese, Raclette, Comte, or Fontina. 
1/8 cup or less of cornmeal for baking



For the topping, heat the olive oil in a very large saute pan and cook the onions, thyme, salt, pepper, and garlic over low heat for 45 minutes, until the onions are sweet and soft but not almost black. Toss the onions from time to time. After 30 minutes, take out the garlic, chop it roughly, and add it back to the onions. If you want to really caramelize the onions, sprinkle just a hint of sugar to them while they are cooking - no more than half of a teaspoon. 


Or if you want to caramelize your onions the day or even a couple of days before, use your crock pot. See this recipe I posted last month for Crock Pot Onions. You can always add the thyme, garlic, and salt and pepper if you didn't add these things previous to the crock pot onion mixture. 
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Have your dough and or pre-made crust ready. Add a tablespoon or so of dried cornmeal on the baking sheet before you lay the crust in the pan. The light addition of cornmeal gives the crust a nice little crunch. Traditionally the shape is not round, but rectangle - the size of a regular baking sheet. 
Brush the base of the dough lightly with olive oil, and start building your version of pissaladiere. If you have chosen to use cheese, sprinkle on your chosen shredded cheese - - or not. Spoon the sauteed onion mixture on top of the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border all around. Artfully arrange, or sprinkle evenly on top of the dough the anchovies and olives. Sprinkle a touch more of thyme or Herbes de Provence on top of the onions and olives. Brush the edge of the dough with olive oil, and bake for 15 minutes, or until the crust is crisp. Serve hot on a cutting board. Eat! Eat! Eat! 




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