Caramelized Onion, Kale, Bacon and Egg Pizza

Pizza is a glorious food. Even when it's bad, it's pretty good, and when it's great, you are talking about love, comfort, and deliciousness wrapped in one dish. I've written about pizza before, but this week, for pizza night with my hubby, I tried a couple of new things, at least things I hadn't written about previously, and what resulted was my husband's favorite pizza to date. Caramelized onion, kale, bacon, and egg...

First, let's talk about the dough. I've begun a new habit by adding wine to my pizza dough recipe. When I make homemade pizza dough, my usual practice is to make it a day ahead. Letting the dough rest in the fridge overnight does wonders for the flavor complexity and the overall texture. But the idea that I can only make pizza at home if I plan in advance was bugging me. Why couldn't I make and use the dough in the same day? It turns out, you can. Simply replace 1/4 cup of the water in my original homemade pizza dough recipe with dry white wine (both dry vermouth and Lillet work too) and boom, your pizza dough is butt-kicking after 45 minute rise on the counter. Punch it down, make your dough balls, and start making your pizzas. In fact, since I like to let my oven get good and hot, I often set the oven to 500 F when I start making the dough. If you prep your toppings while the oven is going and the dough is rising, you can be baking pizzas just 1 hour after you begin. Pretty fabulous.

Now, time to move on to the toppings. The most labor intensive component of this pizza is the caramelized onions. Caramelized onions are one of those ingredients that seem so fancy. While its true that they take a little time, the flavor payoff is worth it. And while you can go old school and take hours on caramelized onions, I've got a couple of tips to make those move a little quicker, but still give you rich, deep flavor. It starts with bacon.

Caramelized Onions - can be reduced, when making pizzas for my hubby and me, I often start with just 2 onions and adjust accordingly
8 yellow onions (about 3 pounds)
8 slices thick cut bacon, cut into bite sized pieces
couple of sprigs fresh thyme
1 tbslp olive oil
1/2 cup brandy (optional)
2 cups chicken stock
salt/pepper to taste

Place your olive oil and bacon pieces in a cold skillet or fry pan, turn the heat to medium low. You want to render out as much bacon fat as you can. Slice your onions while the bacon fat renders. You want to pull out the bacon with a slotted spoon when it is just cooked, still soft is best because you are reserving those for the pizza and they'll get cooked again in a 500 degree oven.

Once the bacon is done, pull it out and reserve. Add your sliced onions and thyme sprigs to the pan with the bacon fat/olive oil mixture. Add a pinch of salt and turn the heat up to medium. You can play with the heat here, but be careful, you aren't sautéing onions, you don't want them crispy fried, you want them to slowly caramelize. Once your onions are translucent, you should start having some brown goodness stuck to the bottom of the pan from both the onions and the bacon. That's when it is time to deglaze with the brandy. Picking up all that from the bottom should turn your onions golden brown, but they aren't done yet, stir them a bit and when the pan is almost dry, add the chicken stock. Keep cooking, keep stirring. Now you keep cooking the onions down until they are dark brown and delicious. If your pan gets too dry or needs deglazing, you can always add a little water.

When they are done, pull out the thyme stems and let cool before assembling your pizzas

Caramelized Onion, Kale, Bacon and Egg Pizzas
Makes 8 small or 4 large thin crust pizzas
I often make a full batch of dough and just halve or quarter the recipes/ingredients below if I'm making for a smaller crowd or a variety of toppings.

1 batch of homemade pizza dough (made a day in advance or with white wine substitution)
Caramelized onions (see above)
8 eggs
1 cup chopped frozen kale
partially cooked bacon (reserved from the caramelized onion recipe)
1 lb of cheese - more if you are a cheese head like me. My favorite is to slice scamorza, but it can be difficult to find. Fresh mozzarella is good, provolone works, shredded mozzarella works too. Use what you like!
Salt and Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Grated parmesan or pecorino to garnish at the end.
Extra AP and/or semolina flour.

Preheat your oven to 500 F making sure your bread stone is in the oven.

Your dough balls should already be made. If you are going for 8 small pizzas, your balls should be 90-100 grams each. For 4 larger, 180-200 grams each.

Roll or stretch each dough ball into a thin, relatively round pizza. I like to use a rolling pin even though purists would probably chastise me for it. I can't seem to get my pizza dough as thin as I want using my hands only.

Coat your pizza peel with a little flour and semolina. Place your dough on top and make sure it isn't sticking.

Start by adding a thin layer of caramelized onions to the dough. That gets topped with a little chopped kale, then cheese, then bacon.

Now here is the trick, start the pizza in the oven without the egg. In my oven, at 500 degrees, each pizza takes about 8 minutes to cook. Place your pizza directly on the stone and bake it for 4 minutes. Then, crack your egg into a little bowl and after the first 4 minutes, oven the oven and carefully pour your egg on top. Close the oven door and wait 4 more minutes. Your oven may be different, so this might require a little adjustment, one minute here or there, but in my house, 4 minutes gets the egg to the perfect point where the whites are set but the yolks are gloriously runny.

After 8 minutes total time (4 without egg, 4 with) you are ready to go. Using your peel, carefully get that pizza out of the oven and onto your plate or cutting board.

Garnish with fresh ground pepper, grated cheese, and salt if you like (usually the cheese is plenty salty for me) then devour that cheesy, umami, runny egg goodness!

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