My university semester abroad was spent in southern France, and therefore I identify Provencal cooking as more “french” than say a Parisian steak frites. So for me, this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Pissaladiere, is just about as french as it gets.
In Provence they are definitely not afraid of anchovies and the unsuspecting tourist may find them popping up in unexpected places. In Aix, where I lived, pizza ALWAYS came with a little anchovy in the middle, regardless of what the menu said. When I first arrived I hated anchovies and would always move the offending little intuder to the side and then bemoan the fact that it had already managed to flavor my pizza. But slowly, over time, the flavor began to grow on me and then became normal. Today, while I would not call myself an anchovy lover, I do believe that they have their place in certain recipes and this is one of them.
Pissaladiere is sometimes mistaken for pizza on first sight, and the crust is certainly similar, but the toppings include neither tomato sauce nor cheese. Instead, pissaladiere is topped with caramelized onions, cured olives, and anchovies. Having eaten my fair share of of these in France I was excited to give this recipe a try.
While not difficult, this recipe does take a little time to get together because the dough needs to rise and the onions need to caramelize. In my experience, onions will not properly caramelize unless given time to do so and I get irritated with any recipe which tries to tell me otherwise. I recently read a recipe which called for the onions to be “sauteed over medium-high heat until caramelized, about 10 to 15 minutes.” Dorie tells no such lies in her recipe, advising instead to cook the onions for 45 minutes over low heat because, “this isn’t a job you should rush.” Bless you Dorie!
But while I apparently have lots of opinions on caramelizing onions, I have almost no experience making pizza dough and I fear that I may have done something wrong with that piece of the recipe. While kneading it for the advised 5 minutes, I found the dough to be just crazy sticky and I think I ended up adding too much flour in order to be able to work with it. No idea if that was the problem or if it was something else, but my crust came out a bit dry in the end. Did anyone else have trouble with the dough or was it just me? I would welcome input from any of you who have more experience in this area.
Aside from the crust being a bit dry though, both my husband and I really enjoyed our pissaladiere, which I served up for lunch with a light side salad. I can see this one being a tough sell in general and would probably be hesitant to serve it to guests; just a few too many controversial ingredients going on. But if I can get the dough figured out I could happily see whipping one up again for just the two of us.
One final note, even as I type this my brain is already on vacation. Tonight we are hitting the road and heading to Croatia, one of my very favorite places in the world. My mouth is already watering just thinking about all the yummy food and wine. So many people associate Croatia and its cuisine with eastern europe, but the food is actually more closely related to the mediterranean diet, or I guess I should say adriatic, with lots of fresh seafood, olive oil, and pasta. I’ll tell you all about it when I get back, but in the meantime I’ll leave you with a picture of Rovinj, the town where we will be staying. Happy cooking and I look forward to catching up with all of your lovely stuffed pumpkin posts when I get back.