Monday, August 8, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper, Caramelized Onion, Salami Pizza

The summer of Michigan has taken a detour south.  Why not go South in summer, to the heat and humidity?  We've had plenty of that in Chicago, so it's the norm right now- similar to Nashville TN, the countrified, smaller version of Vegas.  Without casinos, but that's the other reason for Kentucky.  Besides bourbon.

Last bender in Nashville there were culinary delights from this touristy place right on the strip, to the huge booths that held the hungry and hungover college crowd (who we're still partying with to draw out our own adolescence) at this spot towards the campus of Vanderbilt.  Our host that late morning was well recognized as a performer a few hours prior at a popular karaoke bar.  I can't remember what he sounded like, as there was a beach party going on with ladies in bikinis, so I was clearly distracted.  They literally dumped sand all over the floor, a few inches worth.  It was disappointing to learn this only happened once a year.  Nashtucky, you always impress my inner 'billy.  

There's been some quality time smoking this summer with the new grille, but it's not yet on par with Puckett's.  They smoke their shit right right under the roof in some fancy stainless steel contraption, certainly not the usual get-up you'd think- some giant old behemoth of a smoker half rusted out, a thousand pounds of metal coated with 50 years of melting animal fat.  You couldn't see much of it's operation, but there were a few other things to keep you busy- like the live band and my favorite beer so far this year, a deliciously tasty summer fare called Sweetwater IPA.  They brew near Atlanta and their main advertisement is freshness, so they only distribute to a few cities in the Southeast.  Back in the day, that would have been called 'keeping it real'.  Goose Island, unfortunately, has done the complete opposite. 


Where does this combination come from?  I literally had one pepper in the crisper, some leftover salami from a punk picnic, and the usually present alliums.  There's always pizza dough ingredients in the pantry. 


Roasted Red Pepper, Caramelized Onion, Salami Pizza
4 servings

1 packet or 1 oz. fast-acting yeast
1 C warm water, about 105F
1 ts white sugar
2.5 C bread flour, King Arthur preferred
1.2 ts kosher salt, Morton preferred over that Crystal brand
1 large red pepper
1/2 C caramelized onion (about 1 large onion, thinly sliced, low heat, touch of oil and salt, 30 minutes, stir twice)
veggie oil
good salami
pizza sauce (bit of shallot and garlic, oil and chili flakes, hot saute pan, add tomato sauce and season with Italian herbs, S&P, fresh herbs, etc.
1-1.5 C mozzarella, freshly shredded
4-5 leaves fresh basil, chiffonade

If you've never made a dough before, read about it here.  

After you've punched down your dough to rest for 10-15 minutes before rolling out, fire up the grill to high or use an indoor grill pan.  Don't forget to always heat up the oven to 500F for at least half hour with your stone on the lowest rack.  Oil up your whole pepper, cook on the grill until the outer skin is at least 75% charred, about 10 minutes.  Turn every couple minutes to avoid burning.  Once done, place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let sit for 5 minutes, then the outer skin will be easy to remove and discard.  As soon as you can handle the hot pepper, cut into 1" pieces, sans seeds of course.

To assemble the pie- Roll out the dough, sauce it up, add the appropriate amount of cheese, then the good stuff- the salami, caramelized onion, and the red pepper pieces.  Bake on the hot stone for about 12 minutes, depending on many factors such as the heat of your oven and how done you want your pie.  Let cool until you can't help but slice into, top with the basil chiffonade and chili flake, oregano, whatever you like to do.  
 
The extra step to roast the red pepper is well worth it- the sweetness, the savoriness, the saltiness, all you need to add is a Sweetwater IPA to bring the bitterness and you're in good shape. 

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