Have you ever had a “eureka” moment when two things you know well collided on your palate for the first time and made music? A few months ago, we ordered a thin crust pizza topped with bacon and green olives at Marie’s Pizza and Liquors (an amazing old school Chicago pizza joint, worthy of its own post). It was life changing. Since then, we have taken our favorite foodie friends back to Marie’s to sample the pizza and have worked to recreate it at home. This evening, I came very close.
The briny green olives and salty, smoked bacon are a magical pair – Wonder Twin powers activate! With a crunchy-edged pizza crust and a touch of tomato sauce as a canvas, the combination is complete. Brushing the crust with a little bacon grease and crowning the goodies with a light sprinkling of good quality mozzarella sends the flavors to the moon.
Think I might be overselling this pizza? Perhaps if you hate olives or if you are vegetarian this combination won’t entrance you in the same way it has me. If dietary restrictions don’t hinder you, set aside a weekend afternoon to knead a little pizza dough. While it rises, sizzle a few strips of bacon and let your mouth water while you create this magical pie.
Green Olive and Bacon Pizza
Makes two 12-14 inch pizzas.
For one pizza, you can freeze half the dough and use half the toppings.
For the crust:
1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast (2-1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon honey
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
cornmeal, for sprinkling
Pizza sauce (from a jar or you can make this sauce.)
6 strips smoked bacon
2/3 cup small, green, pitted olives
shredded mozzarella cheese
For the crust:
Warm water should be about 100 degrees F. Stir in honey and yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes, yeast should be foamy. Put flour and salt in a large bowl and whisk together. Add the yeast mixture and stir. Add olive oil and combine. Using a dough hook or by hand, knead the dough for 10 minutes until it is stiff but smooth and elastic. Cover the bowl and let it rest in a warm place for 45-60 minutes. You can turn the oven on 200 degrees F., turn it off and then let the dough rise inside.
Cook bacon in a frying pan until crispy. Set it on paper towel and reserve about 1/4 cup of bacon grease from the pan. When cool, chop the bacon into coarse chunks. Drain olives and chop them coarsely.
Prepare the pizza:
When dough has doubled in size, remove it and punch it down. Separate it into two balls. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. If you are using a pizza stone, preheat it in the oven.
Lightly flour a work surface and press or roll half the dough into a circle. If using a pizza peel, sprinkled with cornmeal and transfer to a pizza stone in the oven. If you don’t have a pizza peel and stone, you can press the dough directly onto a greased pizza pan or cookie sheet.
Before placing the dough in the oven, prick it with a fork all over to avoid large air pockets. Put the dough in the hot oven for 10 minutes to par-bake the crust. It should not be brown but it will be firm in the center.
Remove the dough and brush the crusts with the bacon grease. Top the pizza with sauce, sprinkle bacon and olives on top and add mozzarella. Put pizza back in the oven for 10-15 more minutes or until cheese is bubbly and crust is slightly browned.
Repeat the same process with the other pizza. To freeze dough rub olive oil on the round ball of dough and put in individual plastic freezer bags and in the freezer. Let thaw overnight in the fridge or on the counter before using.
Related post on Whipped, The Blog: Penne with Roasted Tomato and Garlic Sauce