Thursday, September 15, 2011

Feeding Friendship: Pizza Bianca with Balsamic Caramelized Onions

This is the second recipe that I made with balsamic vinegar.  The first was a fig frozen yogurt with a balsamic vinegar syrup based on a method and a combo of frozen yogurt and fig ice cream recipes from David Lebovitz.  It was deemed a little too unusual for a Labor Day dinner, but it did lead to some interesting commentary:

"It's like a bad joke, not because it doesn't taste good, but because no one get's it."
"I feel like it should have a monocle and a top hat."
"It's like the ice cream is looking down on doesn't care if I like it or not."

...and my favorite...

"It tastes.......picaresque."

So not wanting to present you with a condescending dish, I bring you my take on Il Vicino's Pizza Bianca.  The reviews on this one?  "Holy crap, this is good."  It's no Mr. Peanut, but I'll take it.

I've played a bit with the ratios and added balsamic to enhance the sweetness of the caramelized onions.  The sweetness is balanced out by the spicy cappacola, the earthy mushrooms, fragrant rosemary, and the funk of the gorgonzola.  This would be fantastic with the slight fruitiness of fig balsamic vinegar.  The temperature has been dropping here in south Texas, but it is still in the 90s and I didn't want to heat up my kitchen.  So I cooked these pizzas on the grill.  The intense heat makes great crust.

I generally prefer to make my own pizza dough because I think that the flavor is better.  It is extremely simple to make, particularly if you have a mixer with a dough hook, but you do have to plan ahead about 2 hours. Alternately, you can make it the night before, put it in the fridge and then pull out the dough 1-2 hours before you are ready to cook.  A final note on balsamic vinegar - I frequently toss it with vegetables that I am roasting.  You use less oil and the flavor is great.

Pizza Bianca 
Makes: 4 8" pizzas


2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. instant yeast
3 tbsp. olive oil
3/4 c. warm water
1 tbs. honey

10 crimini mushrooms, sliced thinly
6 slices spicy capicola, cut into strips
2 yellow onions
1 tbsp. oil
3 tbsp. basalmic vinegar, fig if available
2 tsp. finely minced rosemary
1 tsp. crushed fennel seeds, optional
1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
6 oz. gorgonzola
8 oz fresh mozzarella, shredded

1. To make the dough: Stir honey into the warm water and sprinkle yeast over water.  Wait about 5 minutes until the yeast foams.
2. Combine flour and salt in the bowl of the mixer and stir to combine.  With the dough hook on low speed, stir in the oil.  Slowly stream in the water.  Once fully combined, up the speed slightly and knead 6 minutes.
3. The dough should form a ball.  If it doesn't, add another 1-2 tbsp. of flour.  If the dough is dry and extra flour remains at the bottom of the bowl, sprinkle in a few drops of water.
4. Remove dough hook and cover with plastic wrap.  Let sit 2-3 hours at room temperature or until approximately doubled in size.
5. Thinly slice the yellow onion and cook over medium heat in 1 tbsp. oil with the rosemary, fennel, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. When the onions are light brown, add the balsamic vinegar (be careful, it will let off a puff of acrid steam).  Continue cooking until the onions are dark brown and all the vinegar has reduced completely.
6. Heat grill on high for about 10 minutes, then turn down to medium-high.
7. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and roll out to approximately 1/4 inch thick rounds.  Lightly oil one side of the crust.
8. Prepare all of the toppings before starting to grill. These go fast once you start.  I like to render some of the fat out of the capicola in a hot skillet before using.
9. Place two crusts, oiled side down, on the grill and close.  Check the dough after 1 minutes to make sure it isn't starting to burn, cook 1 minute more.
10. Remove the crust and brush the top with olive oil, flip.
11. Spread 1/4 of the caramelized onions on each pizza and top with 1/4 of each of the remaining ingredients.
12. Turn the grill down as far as it will go and return the pizzas to the grill for 3-5 more minutes.

1 comment:

  1. Just bookmarked this one! We love making our own whole wheat pizza crust and trying new toppings, will definitely be trying this :)


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