I was recently asked what is my guilty pleasure. Ummm, excuse me? My food guilty pleasure. Oh, ok. That’s easy. Pizza. I will eat pizza anytime, anywhere. If the question is pizza, the answer is always yes, please. One of my favorite restaurants in NYC is a pizza joint. Granted, it’s a nice pizza joint with a very extensive wine list, but a pizza joint nonetheless. It’s not just Neapolitan pizza that I love either. I’m open to other cultures versions of pizza too. One of my early posts here on LWA was the lahmucan, a Moroccan flatbread made with beef or lamb and spices. I’ve also tried a zucchini crust pizza (delicious!) and the cauliflower crust pizza (meh). So basically, it’s anything baked on a crust in a screaming hot oven.
You know how it is. You’re on the web and you start clicking here and there and suddenly you look around and wonder where you are and how you got there. That’s sort of what happened with the flammkuchen. I really have no idea how I stumbled upon it, but boy, am I glad I did. The more I read, the more I liked. A flammkuchen is lardons (bacon), thinly sliced onions that have been caramelized, gruyére cheese and créme fraîche on a rectangular dough. Legend has it that they were originally made to test the heat of the wood-fired ovens. That’s a test I can get behind. The taste is that of french onion soup, from the caramelized onions and gruyére and a bacon sandwich. Both are winners in my book.
- 1 pizza crust – I like this one but you can use whichever crust you like.
- ½ pound bacon, cut into matchsticks
- 1-2 small white onions, sliced thinly
- ½ cup créme fraîche
- ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 2-3 cups gruyére cheese (or smoked gruyére), grated
- freshly grated black pepper
Heat oven to 500˚F. If you have a pizza stone, place it in the center of the bottom rack to heat. If you don’t have a pizza stone, use a baking sheet. Let oven and pizza stone/baking sheet heat for at least 30 minutes (an hour is better). In a large skillet, cook sliced bacon until it’s almost crispy (it will cook more in the oven). Remove the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate to drain and set aside. Cook onions in 2 T bacon grease over medium heat until browned, but not burned, stirring frequently. This might take up to 20 minutes.
Gently stretch and flatten pizza dough to form a rectangle large enough to fit your baking sheet or pizza stone. Place dough on a sheet of parchment paper (NOT wax paper) or heavily floured pizza peel. Spread créme fraîche evenly over dough. Grate nutmeg directly over créme fraîche all over pizza. Spread caramelized onion, bacon and gruyére evenly over dough. Top with freshly grated black pepper. Bake in oven on baking sheet or pizza stone for 3-6 minutes, depending on your oven. Watch carefully! Carefully remove pizza from oven to a cutting board. Cut into squares and serve hot.
- If you cannot find créme fraîche in your store, here are a few substitutions.
- My favorite pizza joint in NYC is Otto. I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you ever find yourself in NYC, you must go there.
- In case you’re wondering, my non-food guilty pleasure is historical fiction, specifically 14th and 17th century Scotland. Some of my favorite authors are Diana Gabaldon, Monica McCarty, Sharon Kay Penman, Tracy Brogan, Laura Kinsale, Tessa Dare, Laura Vosika and Kate Quinn (not Scotland, but Renaissance Rome).