– By Jakob Anderson, Food Writer –
Admit it, your takeout pizza spot lets you down nine time out of ten (if you disagree, it’s most likely because you consume most of your pizza while intoxicated). Pizza is certainly on the upswing these days, but to get a slice from an artisan pizza joint, where the pies coming bubbling out of the wood fire oven, you have to shell out much more than a slice at Pizza Hut. A great alternative to pizza is stuffed focaccia. Focaccia is an Italian bread known for its extra crisp bottom and fluffy centre. You have probably seen focaccia used for sandwiches, but it can easily replace pizza as well. It’s simple to make and is also great to bring to a party as an appetizer! Here are three ideas for stuffed focaccia, but be sure to master the original recipe first!
This is a standard, plain focaccia. It is the master recipe, you must perfect this before going forward! This is also delicious to serve as a side at any meal. If you are looking to jazz it up with toppings note the baking times I mention below.
7 cups flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 cups warm water (more if needed)
3/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Add flour, yeast and salt to mixing bowl with paddle attachment (if you don’t have a mixer you can do this manually in a large bowl and wooden spoon). Slowly mix in water, the result should be a sticky blob; the dough is supposed to be runny and not firm. If you think it looks dry add more water. Drizzle 1/4 cup of olive oil over the top of dough and cover. Let sit and rise for 4 hours, dough should double in size. Heat oven to 450. Turn out dough onto large roasting tray covered with rest of oil and gently use the tips of your fingers to spread it out. Bake for 40 min or until bottom is very dark in colour. Drizzle extra olive oil over the top once you remove it from the oven.
Olive, Oregano, Feta and Arrabbiata
The briny olives and feta are the stars in this Mediterranean inspired focaccia!
1 cup sun-dried olives (sometimes referred to as Mediterranean)
2 cups arrabbiata tomato sauce
4 sprigs fresh oregano (2 tbsp if using dried leaves)
1/2 cup olive oil
At the 25 minute mark of baking, pull focaccia from oven and top with olives and sauce. Place back in oven for 15 minutes. Once finished cooking, drizzle the olives oil and oregano over the focaccia.
Caramelized Onion, Seared Meatball and Cheddar
My brother is an extremely picky eater, this would appeal to him, extra cheesey.
2 onions, caramelized
1lb ground beef
1 tsp dried oregano
2 sprigs fresh thyme
3 cups cheddar cheese, grated
For meatballs, combine beef, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper together. Form mixture into tiny meatballs, think the size of an apricot. Sear meatballs in pan at high heat, don’t worry about cooking them all the way through because you still have to put them in the oven. At the 25 minute mark, spread meatballs, onions and cheddar on focaccia. Place back in oven for 15 minutes.
Guanciale, Fried Egg and Parmesan
This is an ode to carbonara, the classic Italian spaghetti. Trust me with the fried egg (trust me).
2 cups guanciale, diced into 1 inch chunks
1 cup parmesan
2 sprigs rosemary
1 cup olive oil
At 25 minute mark, add guanciale and rosemary to focaccia and drizzle a tsp of olive oil on top. At the 35 minute mark, crack eggs evenly on top of focaccia and drizzle the remainder of olive oil on top, this will allow the eggs to fry in the oven. Once the eggs are set, top with parmesan.