Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pizza with Fig Preserves, Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese, and Cured Meats Optional

There is an incredible pizza place in Boston, on Beacon Hill, called Figs. They make a pizza that is out of this world, with sweet-tart, seeds-and-all fig preserves, caramelized onion, fresh cheeses (and prosciutto optional) on a yummy thin crust. I've only eaten it twice in the past two years, but I still have dreams about it, and I'm only partially joking. Sadly, most of us cannot live in Boston, though it is still on my personal Bucket List. But for now, I thought I would take a stab at a very liberally interpreted make-it-yourself version that anybody could put together, using pre-made pizza dough, goat cheese, caramelized onions and prosciutto or bacon, if you like.

For starters, I don't think I can write a better tutorial on caramelizing onions than Elise at, so I won't burden you with a paraphrased version. It takes a while, but it's very straight foward. I love onions any way I can get them, but caramelizing is such a simple way to bring out their natural sweetness. The only change I made to Elise's instructions is the addition of a smashed garlic clove about ten minutes into the cooking time, which you can remove before assembling your pizza, if you don't like the idea of getting a mouthful of roasted garlic. I hear some people don't like that.

1 ball pizza dough, or 1 roll-out sheet of thin-crust pizza dough
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, smashed
About 3-4 tbsp fig preserves (I used Kadota Fig Preserves made by Trappist; there are several common kinds of figs, but any sort will work)
3-4 ounces goat cheese, cut into chunks
Slices of prosciutto or large crumbles of cooked bacon or pancetta (optional and to your taste)

1. Caramelize your onions, adding the garlic about 10 minutes in. If you're using bacon or pancetta, cook that now, too.
2. Spread or roll out your pizza dough, and spread with fig preserves. Sprinkle with chunks of goat cheese, and add slices of prosciutto or large crumbles of bacon if you're using meat, and onions. Do not ignore the corners!
3. The exact cooking instructions will depend upon the dough you've chosen. Canned, roll-out crusts may require a brief pre-baking before toppings are added. A refrigerated dough that you flatten out yourself may not tell you this, but it will also work much better with a few minutes of pre-cooking before toppings are added.

Wow. Now that this pizza came out so deliciously well, I am not ashamed to tell you that I used a canned, Pillsbury thin-crust roll-out dough. So, don't feel bad if you want to do the same. You're in good company. And also you won't get super-frustrated and perfectionist-ey like I do every time I try to stretch pizza dough, so there's that.

I'm still not entirely sure whether Figs uses a simple fig puree or a fig preserve, and obviously bacon cannot compete with prosciutto, but let's be honest. This is still a delicious pizza. It's an absolute confection. If it were one of the seven deadly sins, this pizza would be "lust." As Brady put it, it is "both carnal and sweet at the same time." Yes, he was definitely talking about the pizza.

Serve this baby with a salad of mixed baby greens, thinly sliced red peppers and a balsamic vinaigrette, and you will not be disappointed. We enjoyed our dinner with a beer from one of the best local breweries in our area, Cabin Fever Ale (a medium-bodied, English-style pale ale) made by the Berkshire Brewing Company. Any beer with a nice balance of rich malt and hoppyness will be a great match.

EDIT: If this pizza looks good to you, you'll also enjoy this Double-Decker Pear, Havarti and Alfalfa Sprout Sandwich on Cinnamon Raisin Bread.

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