Now that we have that out of the way, I want to talk about bacon. Specifically, bacon festivals. This weekend in Keystone, CO there is a bacon festival happening that was advertised running Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but apparently starting Friday means that a band performs, you call that an "opening reception," and suddenly you can advertise a third day. "That's only cool if the band was wearing bacon outfits, or were bacon themselves," one of my best friends Julia texted after I shared my distaste for their false advertising.
Which reminds me, I can't write about food without talking about my two best friends in the whole world, Leanna and Julia. Whenever I make something, I love having them in the kitchen to either keep me on track or to help out!
|Leanna and Julia, everyone.|
With my distress over the bacon festival rearing its ugly head, something needed to be done to redress the situation so the wonderful Leanna and I decided to have our own bacon festival. Close your eyes for a moment and picture pans upon pans of bacon cooking away, experimenting with all of the different flavors bacon can offer, combining it with different meats, vegetables, even wrapping seafood in it, pouring syrup on it, but not dipping it in chocolate or putting it on any type of cupcake because BACON AND CUPCAKES DON'T BELONG TOGETHER I DON'T CARE HOW TRENDY IT IS RIGHT NOW.
Our makeshift bacon festival was nothing like that, as we're both a little chubby and that much bacon certainly won't help us fix that. We did decide that, to honor our fatty friend Sir Bacon of Hogsmeade, we would make a BLT pizza. Comfort food transformed. Bacon realized for its true potential, cradled in warm melted cheese with a juicy tomato and cool refreshing lettuce over it. Here's what we did:
|don't discriminate against square pizza|
1 pizza dough
(I prefer to just get it from Whole Foods... seriously it's $2.99 and you get to skip the dough making.
If you're a purist, however, i'll include my favorite pizza dough recipe after this)
2 large, ripe tomatoes
(I would say two at minimum. If your best friends are Liza Minelli and a tomato, 3 might be better.)
1 pound of bacon
(I used thick sliced applewood smoked and it was DELICIOUS)
8oz of grated mozzarella cheese
about 10 large leaves of Romaine lettuce, chopped
pecorino romano (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 475º
2. Dice tomatoes and put them in a colander and drain. Sprinkle them liberally with salt and let them sit for about 15 minutes. The salt will help draw out some of the excess moisture (and flavor them!) so that you don't end up with a soggy pizza crust. No one likes a soggy pizza crust.
3. Fry the bacon up in a pan. Medium-medium high heat, flip it once, pretty easy stuff. Once it's cooked, crumble it in to small pieces.
4. Roll out pizza dough. If you've done this before, go to step 5. If you haven't, ask yourself why. Go deep in to your psyche and analyze your childhood. Now add to the comments any angst this makes you feel, specifically if it stirs up feelings about your parents, and i'll include a full Freudian analysis on my next post. Ok, i'm kidding. I don't think my mom ever let my sister or me roll the dough out either because it'd probably end up looking like some sort of lumpy uneven space blob. LET ME GET BACK ON TRACK. If you've never done this before, flour is your best friend. Sprinkle your work surface with flour. Sprinkle your hands with flour. Sprinkle your rolling pin with flour. What's that? You don't have a rolling pin? Don't worry, you can use a wine bottle. I've also found a bottle of Grey Goose works well, too. Roll outwards from the center, then toward you. Rotate the pizza dough, then do it again. BUT DAN, YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO TOSS PIZZA DOUGH IN THE AIR! You can if you want to look cool, but i always end up poking a hole in the dough or getting covered in flour when I throw it in the air. Once it's at the desired shape, go to step 2!
5. Lightly spread olive oil on the surface you're going to be cooking the pizza on. If you have a pizza stone, congratulations on being fancy. I personally use a cookie sheet. Transfer your dough to the surface and let's get to building a pizza.
6. Put the tomatoes on the crust. Yes, just like that, you're doing great. I prefer to go from the outside and work my way in, but you can do it however you'd like. Just make sure you leave room for crust to rise on the outside.
7. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese liberally over the tomatoes. If you have the pecorino on hand, put that on there too. It's one of those things that makes life worth living.
Learning opportunity to impress your friends at parties: If you are a fan of Italian food (or of cheese, I suppose) one of the best ways to dress up any dish is to put some finely grated Pecorino cheese on it. Pecorino, made from sheep's milk, is a uniquely Italian cheese with a flavor unique to each area. There is Pecorino Romano from Rome, Pecorino Toscano from Tuscany, and Sicily and Sardinia make their own varieties too. It really takes it up a notch both in flavor and in classiness. Use this if you're trying to impress someone on a date.
8. Remember that crumbled bacon? Put it on top of the cheese.
9. Lightly brush olive oil over the outside crust and season lightly with salt and pepper. Go ahead and put it in the oven now for 15 minutes or until the crust is a golden brown.
Once you put it in, clean up all the flour you probably made a mess with rolling out the dough. This is also a good time to chop your lettuce; this is when Leanna and I picked lettuce out of my garden out back. Wash it, dry it, chop it. Add lettuce once the pizza is out and has cooled for about 5 minutes, slice, and enjoy!
For those who wanted the pizza dough recipe, I didn't forget about you. This is just straight out of The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook which has been one of my bibles in my exploration of food. This is word for word out of their book:
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup semolina flour
1 tbsp salt
3-4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
To make the dough, in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let stand until foamy, about 4 minutes. Add the olive oil, semolina flour, and 1 tbsp salt; mix until creamy. Add the all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and knead with the dough hook until the dough is smooth but not sticky, about 10 minutes.
Form the dough into a ball, put in a lightly oiled bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Punch down the dough, and knead briefly, cover with the towel again and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
|as mentioned earlier, Liza Minnelli and a tomato.|