Given the abundance of tomatoes and basil in our garden during the summer, pizza has become sort of a seasonal thing around here. Which is too bad, because having the oven on at high temperatures is a great way to warm up the house, especially if you have an oil-burning furnace like we do. (Being from California where everyone has electricity or natural gas, I originally pictured an oil-burning furnace as some sort of iron-clad Depression-era boiler that looked like it came off a submarine, but was disappointed to discover it looks like any other furnace.) Did you know heating oil costs more than gas right now? Because it does, and this causes me great anxiety any time we turn the thermostat over 60 degrees, so I’m always looking for auxiliary heat sources. Anyhow, this is my attempt at a seasonal pizza for January, using garlic oil in place of tomato sauce and thyme leaves in place of basil. It definitely doesn’t scream “PIZZA!,” but it’s still pretty damn good.
As below, this makes 4 pizzas. The dough has to be made at least one day ahead, but I think it’s best after two days in the fridge, so if you’re making this on Friday, you should start the dough on Wednesday. (Extra dough balls can be wrapped in plastic and frozen.)
Special equipment needed:
-Parchment paper or Silpat liner
-Pizza peel (or an otherwise tested method for getting pizzas in and out), with flour and cornmeal for dusting
• 1 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, washed and cut into thin discs (usually we grow these, but we ran out long ago): 69 cents
• Splash of olive oil: 6 cents
• Salt & pepper: 2 cents
• Thyme sprigs (garden): $0
• 2 onions, peeled and sliced pole to pole: 40 cents
• 3 T butter: 18 cents
• Salt (coarse grain) & pepper: 2 cents
• 1-2 tsp chopped fresh thyme: $0
• 1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled (save the drippings in your fridge and use in place of shortening): $1.25
• 2 T olive oil: 12 cents
• 1 garlic clove, minced: 1 cent
• 4 oz. blue cheese or Gorgonzola: $2
• Extra chopped thyme leaves: $0
• 17 cents each
TOTAL: $4.75/4 = $1.19 + 17 cents = $1.36 each
For the dough, I used the recipe from Peter Reinhart’s “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice,” which I’m linking to here because I’m too lazy to type it out. One tip: Use fine sea salt, or else increase the amount to 2 tsp of regular table salt.
I used 4 of the 6 dough balls. Be sure to take them out of the fridge 2 hours before you’re going to bake them.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees for the potatoes.
For the onions, heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and pepper, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until very soft and starting to brown, about 20 minutes. Stir in the thyme and set aside.
For the garlic oil, heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the minced garlic clove, stir until fragrant, remove from heat and let sit. (Don’t be alarmed if your garlic turns blue or green; this just happens if your garlic is old. It’s still safe to eat.)
For the potatoes, toss the discs in a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and thyme sprigs. Spread out on parchment- or Silpat-lined cookie sheets.
Bake at 400 until starting to crisp around the edges, 15-25 minutes depending on thickness. (You may have to take some off at different points.)
Put a pizza stone on the lowest rack in the oven (or on the floor if you have a gas oven) and crank the oven up as high as it will go.
As it heats, set up your topping station (divide everything in 4 if you can):
1. Garlic oil with brush (a silicone brush is ideal, as the hair-type brushes can shed hairs that are hard to see).
2. Coarse-grain salt and chopped thyme.
3. Caramelized onions.
4. Crumbled bacon.
6. Blue cheese.
Don’t top the pizzas until right before they’re ready to go in the oven. Sprinkle the peel with cornmeal and flour. Shape the dough ball into as evenly round a shape as you can (I do this in the air with my hands—not tossing it, just holding it and gently pulling it), put on the peel. Brush with garlic oil, being sure to get some of the garlic pieces on the dough; sprinkle with a little coarse-grain salt and chopped thyme; spread on caramelized onions; top with bacon; layer potatoes over; sprinkle with blue cheese.
Carefully deposit the pizza into the oven; if you’ve never done this before with a peel, it works best with short, jerky back-and-forth movements. Beforehand, you may need to sprinkle extra cornmeal under the edges of the dough to ensure mobility.
Cook for 10 minutes or until crust and potatoes are starting to brown. (The one in the picture is slightly underdone, if that helps, and doesn’t have enough cheese—you definitely want to pile on the cheese.)
Cut and enjoy. (It’s even better after it sits for a while, so be sure to save some for breakfast the next day.)