Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bacon and Caramelized Onion Pizza

Perfect Bacon and Caramelized Onion Pizza!
Let the Party Begin!

Recipe by Robin and King Arthur

It’s almost time for the Super Bowl, which means it’s almost time for Super Bowl parties. I don’t know much about football, but I do know that food and drink is at least as important as a big screen for a successful Super Bowl party. If tradition holds, now is not the time for lightweight dainties like fruit salad and carrot sticks, unless accompanied by dips, toppings, and possibly wings. But it is the perfect time to roll out a couple of handcrafted Bacon and Caramelized Onion Pizzas. This recipe is adapted from a step-by-step pizza contest entry I posted last week at instructables.com. If you like how-to forums and pizza, I humbly ask that you head on over to Instructables and rate my recipe.

Three Slices of Pizza Left on Platter
Leftovers: Not for Long
This pizza combines the savory salty perfection of bacon with the sweetness of caramelized onions, the freshness of tomatoes, and the crunchy tartness of bell pepper. And of course there’s cheese: a lot of mozzarella and a sprinkling (or more) of Parmesan.

Great pizzas, even loaded with bacon, rely upon an excellent crust. I like King Arthur Flour’s Now or Later Pizza crust. My instructions are for mixing by hand, but check out the original recipe to make crust with bread machines and mixers. For best flavor and time management, start preparing the crust the night before (takes about 1¼ hours), then let it rest overnight.

Bacon Draining on Paper Towel
First Key Ingredient
For optimum texture, plan to let the crust rest again for 30 minutes after it’s rolled out (you can shred cheese and prepare other ingredients while it rests). You could also choose to substitute your favorite crust mix or pre-made dough. Boboli, if it’s fresh, can make a tasty, if hefty, crust. Whichever crust you choose, baking on a pizza stone will make it crispy on the bottom.  A pizza pan is cheaper and easier to store, but doesn’t impart the same crispiness.

Caramelized Onions Cooked to Perfection
Second Key Ingredient
To save time and effort, rather than tending a frying pan I bake the bacon. To get the onions perfectly caramelized with the least effort, I use an electric frying pan so I can precisely control the heat. You can employ alternative methods if you prefer. Pizza sauce is optional, and I usually skip it.

Make this winning combination for potlucks and parties, or just enjoy it at home with the family. The recipe makes two 12-inch pizzas. It works fine to cut the recipe in half for one pizza, if you reduce the crust kneading time to about 6 minutes.

Serving of Pizza Cut out of Pie
Help Yourself!
Bacon and Caramelized Onion Pizza
2 medium (12-inch) pizzas

1¼ cups semolina (or substitute 1¼ cups unbleached flour)
1¼ tsp. salt
1 cup + 3 tbsp. lukewarm water
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 – 2 tsp. coarse cornmeal

½ lb. (or more!) nitrite-free bacon
No-stick cooking spray
2½ lbs. onions (about 6)
1 tbsp. bacon fat (reserved from bacon)
1 tbsp. olive oil
¾ tsp. salt
1¼ cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half (6 oz.)
½ bell pepper, cut in julienne strips (3 oz.)
12 – 14 oz. grated Mozzarella cheese
3 – 4 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup pizza sauce (optional)

Baking parchment
Two 12-inch pizza pans or stones

Crust Preparation

For most flavorful crust, allow at least 4 (and up to 36) hours for this dough to chill in refrigerator before rolling out.

Mix together white and semolina flours, yeast, and salt with a wire whisk.  Beat in water and olive oil with wooden spoon. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. This allows the flour to absorb water, so kneading will be easier.

Gather the dough onto a floured surface and knead, adding more flour as dough gets sticky. Knead for about 8 minutes, until dough feels stretchy and holds together, but is still soft.

Form dough into a ball and put into a bowl. Dough will continue rising, even when refrigerated, so be sure bowl has extra room. Coat the top of the dough lightly with olive oil and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 45 minutes at room temperature.

Refrigerate dough for 4 hours (or up to 36 hours). This step develops the crust’s flavor.

The Bacon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Spread out ½ lb. or more of bacon so that no pieces overlap.

Put baking sheet on center rack of preheated oven. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes total, checking and flipping bacon after 10 – 15 minutes.

Remove bacon to a plate lined with paper towels to drain, reserving 1 tbsp. bacon fat to cook onions.

When cool, cut bacon into 1½ inch strips.

The Onions

Peel onions and cut in half lengthwise. Slice into half rings about ¼ inch wide.

It will take a little over 1 hour to cook the onions. Preheat frying pan to 300 degrees. Add bacon fat and olive oil to pan. Then add half of the onions and top with ¼ tsp. salt. Make a second layer of remaining onions and top with ½ tsp. salt. Cover pan and let onions “sweat” without stirring for 20 minutes.

Stir the onions and set cover on at angle so steam can escape. Cook for 40 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so to brown onions evenly.

If onions aren’t browning, there is too much liquid in the pan. Evaporate the liquid by raising heat to 350 degrees and stirring frequently. Keep an eye on them, and turn heat down to 300 degrees when onions start browning.

Onions are done when they are completely deep brown and soft. Turn off frying pan and set aside.

Crust Pre-baking

Sprinkle two squares of parchment paper with cornmeal, about ½ - 1 teaspoon each.

Remove dough for crust from refrigerator and cut in half. Shape each half into a thick circle. Place circle on parchment and spread outwards from center with fingers or rolling pin until about 12 inches in diameter.

Cover with tea towel and let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes. (You can use this time to slice the peppers and tomatoes, and grate the cheeses.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put pizza stones, if using, into oven.

Trim away excess parchment “corners” enough so they won’t contact heating element and burn, but leave enough parchment to grasp. Transfer crusts and parchment to pizza pan or pizza stone. Bake for 6 – 7 minutes.

Assembly Line of Caramelized Onions, Bell Peppers, Parmesan, Mozzarella, Tomatoes, and Bacon
Assemble Toppings During Crust Pre-bake
Topping & Final Baking

While pizza dough is pre-baking, gather all topping ingredients together assembly-line style: mozzarella, caramelized onions, bacon, halved cherry tomatoes, julienned bell peppers, Parmesan cheese, and pizza sauce if using.

Remove pizza dough from oven and place on heatproof surface. Add toppings in this order:

  • A layer of pizza sauce (optional)
  • A layer of mozzarella cheese
  • As many caramelized onions as you like: use tongs to pick them up
  • An even distribution of bacon
  • An even distribution of tomatoes and bell pepper
  • A sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on top

Return pizzas to oven and bake until crust is golden brown and toppings are bubbly, about 8 minutes.

Remove from oven and enjoy, keeping in mind that tomatoes hold the heat!

Topped Pizza Ready for Oven
Just Before Final Baking


  1. Oh My Gosh - Your photos are making my mouth water. Looks delicious!

  2. Oh, you caramelize your onions in bacon fat. Mouth is *watering*! Thanks for some great ideas...


    1. You're welcome, Marisa. You've got me wondering now about using bacon-fat caramelized onions to make not-so French onion soup. :)