Thursday, March 5, 2015

pizza night: bacon + kale + muenster cheese

Tonys pizza here in SF has some of the most mouthwatering, simple pizzas- their margherita pie is so perfect and yet has the most basic ingredients. The fresh tomato sauce, basil, mozzarella and hint of salt is heaven.

They also go into the realm of some risky toppings: one pie has nutella, honey and blue cheese. You think it sounds weird, but try it.

On a recent visit I tried what they call the "Eddie Muenster": crispy, lemony kale, smoked bacon, muenster cheese, peppers, all drizzled with honey. And I never wanted to eat anything else ever again. I only wish I came up with that flavor combo-there is something about the sweet and salty combination that just works.

I knew I had to recreate this, so we planned a pizza night Sunday. One glitch: I got a little mandolin happy with my new kitchen gadget that morning and sliced my thumb right open. Lots of blood and a pretty deep cut. Rolling out pizza dough, grating cheese, basically anything that wasn't stirring a pot of something was just out of the question.

It was fun directing Mike around the kitchen while also taking a backseat. He rolled out the pizza dough like a pro and even taught me a thing or two: he roasted the bacon and the kale in the oven on the same baking sheet. The result? Bacon-flavored kale, aka how kale should always be eaten.

bacon, kale and muenster cheese pizza, aka the "eddie muenster"
serves 2-4 

1 pound of pizza dough (as always, you can make your own, but trader joes has a great one-way easier)
half a pound of kale (I like the curly leaf), diced into bite-sized pieces
half a pound of bacon
half a cup of muenster cheese, shredded
half a cup of mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 pepper (I used a red one, use any size, type you like)
1/4 cup honey
juice of a half a lemon
2 tbsp of butter
salt and pepper for seasoning

  • preheat oven to 375
  • line a baking sheet with tin foil (makes for easier cleanup!) and spread out bacon and kale. season kale with pepper
  • cook in oven until bacon and kale are crispy--about 10-15 minutes
  • drain kale on a paper towel lined plate, sprinkle with lemon juice, toss and set aside
  • chop up bacon once cooked and set aside
  • flour counter and roll out pizza dough. lightly oil baking sheet (if using a pizza stone, follow directions as usual) and place dough on baking sheet. 
  • oil top of pizza and poke with a fork to allow air flow
  • place dough in oven to pre-bake (about 10 minutes, until the bottom starts to lightly brown.)
  • slice top and bottom off pepper and slice lengthwise down one side to open up the pepper in one flat layer, remove seeds. season both sides with salt and pepper
  • preheat pan with 1 tbsp butter on high heat; once pan is really hot, add pepper, skin side down and then place a heavy object on top (i used a pot) for about 3-5 minutes
tip: this technique will "blister" the pepper skin and extract a ton of roasted flavor out of it, really quickly
  • flip the pepper over and repeat, remove from heat and let cool and dice up once cooled
  • heat honey in a sauce pan on low heat with 1 tbsp butter and a sprinkle of salt. keep on low heat, stir occasionally, until ready to use
  • once crust is ready, assemble your pie. spread sauce on (alfredo recipe below, is what I used) then layer on peppers, bacon and cheeses
  • bake for around 7 minutes, until cheese is melted
  • remove from oven and pan, add kale and drizzle honey mixture, slice up and serve!

alfredo sauce
I thought this would complement the flavor well--you could use a marinara or a basic cream sauce as well
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour (traditional alfredo sauce doesn't call for flour but I like it as a thickener)
1/4-1/3 cup milk or cream
1/4 cup pecorino or any parm you like/have on hand
salt and pepper for seasoning

melt butter on stovetop, low heat, add flour and whisk
remove from heat and add milk or cream, continue whisking and bring back to burner
season with salt and pepper
add pecorino and leave on low heat, stirring occasionally, until it thickens up

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