Sausage & Caramelized Onions Flatbread

Article first published as Recipe: Sausage & Caramelized Onions Flatbread on Blogcritics.

Yep, it's that time again. I hope I'm not alone here. I'm standing in front of my fridge and taking a rough inventory of its contents. A little bit of this, a little bit of that and some stuff that have seen better days. For those moments when I have a smorgasbord of random ingredients, my initial reaction is to make a pizza. Besides, anything baked on a good crust with cheese can't be bad, right?! So that's what I did... only I ventured out to try a new crust recipe. That's when this Sausage & Caramelized Onions Flatbread was born. Using a dough initially intended for a French Pissaladiere (a Provencal street food similar to a pizza), and topped with my favorite pizza fixings, I think I've found my favorite flatbread recipe!

The dough for this flatbread is not your typical pizza dough. Instead, it takes on a combination of focaccia, thin crust and deep dish pizza dough, all in one. A lot of olive oil is used in handling and forming the crust, which helps to cook up crisp in the oven. There is also a slight chew to the dough since it's not quite a thin crust. Overall, it's a great dough for flatbread and I especially like that it's served as an oval rather than the usual round pizza. Once you've made the dough, feel free to top it as you wish with your favorite pizza toppings. Since it only takes 13-15 minutes to bake up, I recommend lightly topping the pizza so it cooks up thoroughly. I've submitted this recipe to Yeastspotting... so if you love bread, definitely check out the site!

Sausage & Caramelized Onions Flatbread
dough recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated

2 cups bread flour, plus extra for work surface
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus additional for brushing dough
1 cup warm water, about 110 degrees

Caramelized onions:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound yellow onions, sliced 1/4 inches thick
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons water

Other toppings:
1/4 pound Italian sausage removed from casings
1/4 cup pizza sauce
pinch of dried Italian seasoning
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese or pizza cheese blend
2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley

For the dough:

In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the flour, yeast, and salt to combine. While the machine is running, slowly add the oil, then water, through the feed tube; continue to process until the dough forms a ball.

Generously dust your work surface with flour; using floured hands, transfer dough to work surface and knead lightly, shaping the dough into a ball. Lightly oil a 1-quart measuring cup or small bowl and place the dough in it. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside in a draft-free spot until doubled in volume, about 1- 1 1/2 hours.

For the caramelized onions:
While the dough is rising, heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add the onions, salt and brown sugar, stirring frequently until the onions begin to brown. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue cooking until the onions have softened and are medium golden brown. Remove from heat and stir in water; transfer to a small bowl and set aside until ready to top pizza.

To shape, top & bake the dough:
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Once the dough has doubled, transfer the dough to a floured work surface and divide into 2 equal pieces using a dough scraper. Working with one piece at a time, form each piece into a rough ball by gently pulling edges of dough together and pinching to seal. With floured hands, turn dough ball seam-side down. Cupping dough with both hands, gently push dough in circular motion to form taut ball. Repeat with second piece of dough.

Brush each ball of dough lightly with oil and cover with plastic wrap; letting them rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cut two 20 inch lengths of parchment paper and set aside.

Coat fingers and palms of hands generously with oil. Using dough scraper, loosen 1 piece of dough from work surface. With well oiled hands, hold dough aloft and gently stretch to 12-inch length. Place on parchment sheet and gently dimple surface of dough with fingertips.

Using oiled palms, push and flatten dough into 14 by 8 inch oval. Brush dough with oil and put half of the pizza sauce on top, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edge. Crumble half of the Italian sausage and caramelized onions over the top, sprinkle with half of the shredded cheese and a pinch of Italian seasoning.

Slide the parchment with pizza on top onto a pizza peel or inverted rimless baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven until deep golden brown, about 13-15 minutes. While the first pizza is baking, shape and top the second one.

Remove the pizza from the oven and transfer onto a cutting board. Allow the pizza to cook for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately.

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