Pissaladiére Gargantua


A party-sized onion and anchovy pizza


I always like to have a pastry something for large gatherings, and the pizza idea in rectangular form is a good one because it is not too rich—no eggs, just pie crust dough, cooked on ions, anchovies, black olives, and a sprinkling of cheese for the top. Another plus is that you can assemble and freeze it, all except for the anchovy topping. Furthermore, 1 large sheet of it will give you 20 generous portions, or 40 small ones.

For 20 appetizer-sized servings

 4 cups sliced yellow onions
4 to 6 Tb olive oil
Chilled pie crust dough (recipe follows)
Salt and pepper
1 tsp or so dried oregano or thyme, or mixed dried herbs
Two 2-ounce cans flat anchovy fillets, packed in olive oil
About 24 black olives (the dried Mediterranean type or other salty imported smallish black olives)
About 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Equipment:
A jelly-roll pan, nonstick preferred, about 11 by 7

Cook the onions slowly in 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a roomy covered frying pan or saucepan, stirring frequently, until they are soft and thoroughly tender, but not browned—20 minutes or more.

May be cooked ahead; cool, cover, and refrigerate for several days, or freeze.

Meanwhile, butter the bottom (not the sides) of the jelly-roll pan. Rapidly roll out the chilled dough into a rectangle 91/8 inch) thick, and larger and wider than the pan. Fit it into the pan, and neatly trim off the overhanging edges. Fold edges of dough down against bottom all around; press a decorative border into them with the tines of a table fork. Prick inside surface of dough all over with z forks, as shown97to keep it from rising up during baking.

Cover and refrigerate (or freeze) until you are ready to continue.

When onions are tender, season carefully with salt and pepper, and either let them cool or stir over cold water until cool. Spread them over the inside surface of the dough.

Cover and refrigerate (or freeze) until you are ready to continue.

 

Baking

 25 to 30 minutes at 4250F

While the oven is preheating, arrange a design of anchovies, such as the diagonal pattern illustrated, over the onions, with black olives at strategic intervals. Sprinkle the cheese over the onions and the design, and dribble on a tablespoon of olive oil (oil from the anchovy can, if you wish). Bake in lower third level of oven (where pastry will crisp better) until pastry has browned and is beginning to shrink from the sides of the pan.


Serving

Slide onto a serving board or work surface, and either let guests cut their own, or cut into serving pieces and arrange on a plate. Five strips across the pissa1adiere and 4 the length of it give you 20 pieces.

I prefer not to arrange the anchovies more than 30 minutes or so before baking because I think they develop an off taste if they sit around out of their hermetically sealed can. And although it can be baked ahead, the pissaladiére is at its most delicious served fresh and warm, rather than cold.


Dough

 

3 1/2 cups (16 ounces) all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached (measure by scooping dry-measure cups into flour and sweeping off excess)
2 tsp salt
2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) chilled unsalted butter
4 Tb (2 ounces ) chilled lard or shortening
10 to 16 Tb iced water

 Equipment:

A mixing bowl and rubber spatula; or bowl and pastry blender or 2 knives and spatula; or food processor with steel blade.

 Measure the flour and salt into the mixing bowl or bowl of processor. Quarter the chilled butter lengthwise, cut crosswise into 3/8-inch pieces, and add to the bowl or container along with the chilled lard or shortening, cut into small pieces.

 

Dough by hand

Rapidly, so fat will not soften, either rub it with the flour between the balls of your fingers until the fat is broken into pieces the size of small oatmeal flakes, or cut with pastry blender or knives until fat is the size of very coarse meal. (If fat softens during this process, refrigerate bowl or container for 20 minutes, then continue.) Then, with a rubber spatula, blend in 10 tablespoons iced water, pressing mixture against side of bowl to make a mass. Lift out massed pieces of dough onto your work surface, sprinkle droplets of water on the unmassed bits, press together, and add to rest of dough. Finish as in the final paragraph.

 

Dough in a food processor

The preceding proportions are right for machines with a 4-quart container; if using a smaller process divide the ingredients by half and process in two batches. Turn machine on and off 6 or 7 times to break up the fat. Measure out 10 tablespoons iced water, turn the machine on, and pour it in. Turn machine on and off 7 or 8 times, and dough should begin to mass on blade; if not, dribble in another tablespoon water and repeat. Repeat again if necessary. Dough is done when it has begun to mass; it should not be overmixed. Remove dough to your work surface.

 

Finishing the dough

With the heel, not the warm palm, of your hand rapidly and roughly smear dough out 8 to 10 inches) on your work surface by 3-spoonful bits, to make a final blending of fat and flour. If pastry seems stiff, you can at this time sprinkle on droplets more water as you smear. It should be pliable, but not damp and sticky. Knead and press it rapidly into a rough cake, flour lightly, and wrap in a sheet of plastic and a plastic bag. Chill for 1 hour - preferably 2 hours - before using, which will allow dough to relax while the flour particles absorb the liquid.

Will keep under refrigeration for a day or 2, but if you have used unbleached flour it will gradually turn gray; it is best to store it in the freezer, where it will keep perfectly for several months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator, or at room temperature and then rechill.