Saturday, March 15, 2008

Andouille Sausage Pizza with Onion Confit and Oven-Dried Tomatoes

Yesterday was a day of firsts for me. It was the first time I made a Michael Chiarello recipe. I've always enjoyed his show, and I wish it was one of the more popular shows on FN. It seems that, with the exception of Bobby Flay, all the shows hosted by chefs are fading away, and, in turn, the more advanced recipes, at least in terms of technique, are being replaced by all things quick and simple. It's true that I'll more often make a Rachael Ray-type recipe than I will a Michael Chiarello-type recipe, but that's only because there are 2 days per week that I have hours to spend on a meal, and 5 that I don't. So while I, like most home cooks, may more often turn to a relatively simple recipe, I much more appreciate a complicated one, because it is in working through those that I find my cooking improves the most. Although I wouldn't exactly call Andouille Sausage Pizza with Onion Confit and Fontina Cheese complicated; it is, however, a bit time consuming. Most of that is down time, but you have to have a couple hours free to let things cook slowly in the oven.

The other first I experienced with this recipe was the making of a confit, which refers to a food item that has been immersed and slowly cooked in a flavoring liquid, traditionally for preservation. The confit here consisted of onions cooked in a mixture of oil, vinegar, wine, salt, and sugar. Though I've only done it once, I already feel like the making of an onion confit is a valuable method to become familiar with. The onions really absorb the flavor of whatever you cook them in, so much so that, by the end, they hardly taste like onions anymore. So if you're ever looking for a way to take a liquid and concentrate its flavor in a solid form, consider an onion confit.

Overall, this pizza was very good. I wish I had a pizza stone, so that my crust would have turned out more crispy, but that's another item on my wait-'til-we-have-a-house list. The crust was tender though (I used Emeril's recipe), and the toppings worked wonderfully together. The spicyness of the andouille and the sweetness of the confit balanced each other nicely, and the cheeses brought all the flavors together. The oven-dried tomatoes were a welcome alternative to the usual pizza sauce--they were sweet, delicious, and full of the flavors of the garlic-thyme oil in which they'd been cooked.

Andouille Pizza with Onion Confit and Oven-Dried Tomatoes
adapted from Andouille Sausage Pizza Pie, using Emeril's Basic Pizza Dough

Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 links fresh andouille
4 cloves garlic, divided
2 yellow onions, sliced
1/2 cup champagne or white wine vinegar
Pinch of sugar for confit, plus 1 teaspoon for dough
2 tablespoons white wine
2 roma tomatos
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup warm (110 degrees F) water
1 (1/4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast
3 cups bleached all-purpose flour
1 oz. fontina cheese, shredded
2 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped parlsey

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

First, prepare the sausage. Remove the casings from two links of andouille, then tear the sausages into small pieces and drop into an oil-drizzled skillet over medium-high heat. Saute until cooked through. Reduce heat to medium, add two cloves of thinly sliced garlic, and cook 2 minutes more. With a slotted spoon, remove garlic and sausage from pan and set aside.

Next, prepare the onion confit. Add enough olive oil to andouille renderings to equal about 1/4 cup. Add onions, and cook for a few minutes, or until they begin to soften. Add 1/2 tablespoon salt, vinegar, pinch of sugar, and white wine. Cover skillet with a parchment-paper circle that's had a two-inch hole cut out of the center to allow steam to escape. Place skillet in the oven and allow to cook for 2 hours, or until pizza dough is ready. (You can plan to cook the vegetables for 3 hours if you have the time, but I'm impatient.)

Slice tomatoes into four slices each. Drizzle a baking pan or sheet with about 2 tablespoons olive oil, top with tomatoes, then drizzle an additional 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the tomatoes. Top with 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, a couple grinds of pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme. Place in oven to cook with onions (tomatoes and onions will be done at the same time).

About an hour before tomatoes and onions are finished, prepare pizza dough. In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 teaspoon of sugar, and stir to combine. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour and 1 teaspoon of salt, mixing by hand until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Continue adding the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, working the dough after each addition, until all the flour is incorporated but the dough is still slightly sticky. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth but still slightly tacky, 3 to 5 minutes.

Oil a large mixing bowl with 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to oil all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Remove the dough from the bowl and briefly knead. Place on a lightly floured work surface and let rest for 10 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled baking sheet (or a baker's peel, if you have one) and shape into a large round.

Remove vegetables from oven, and adjust oven temperature to 450 degrees. Scatter shaped dough with fontina, then top with onions and the tomatoes and reserved sausage, being sure to include the garlic that was cooked with both. With a pastry brush, lightly brush the edges of the dough with the oil that the tomatoes cooked in, using just enough to lightly coat the outside of the dough. Finally, top with mozzarella and parmesan cheese and bake in preheated oven for about 12 minutes, or until cheese is melted and crust begins to turn golden brown. Top with parsley and serve.


Kevin said...

That pizza looks so good with the sausage, onion confit and fried tomatoes!

Peter M said...

Although there's prep with the onions and tomatoes...this pizza is simple and the 2 ingredients stand out, way in front as they should.