Monday, November 23, 2009

Butternut Squash, Gorgonzola, and Bacon Pizza

It's the run up to the big day and I'm frantically making my grocery lists and checking my spice cabinet for what's missing. In the meantime I have banned us from eating poultry (we're roasting a big, fresh turkey this year) so that the day will be all the more special. That did not stop me, however, from having Shake Shack for lunch today...

But I digress. As part of our non-poultry pre-Thanksgiving diet, I was racking my brain for what to fix for dinner last night. This lovely, decadent, lusty pizza was the answer. It would have been a bell ringer on its own but what truly sent it soaring into the eternal ever after of great pizzas was the balsamic glaze drizzled over the top. Just the right amount of sweetness to tame the salty bacon and gorgonzola.

Making a balsamic reduction at home so that it mimics those $100 bottles of aged vinegars is as easy as they say on TV (thanks Giada.) However, that did not stop me from failing in my first three attempts and even ruining the bottom of one pan. You simply can't walk away from it. You'll want to. It's like watching slugs mate for the first 10 minutes or so, with nothing much happening but a steady number of bubbles dancing lazily in the pan. But just when you've given up and turn your back, those bubbles will suddenly get smaller and more fierce, multiplying like evil rabbits into tiny little pin sized bubbles. And if you're not at the ready to stir like a maniac and/or take it off the heat, well it's burnt vinegar time:( A stinky, epic mess.

So trust me if you attempt this, tether your wrist to the pan and glue your eyeballs to it.

Butternut Squash, Gorgonzola, and Bacon Pizza
* Serves 4 as a main dish - 6 as an appetizer portion.

1 1/2 cups cubed, peeled butternut squash (about 1/2 inch chunks)
4 slices bacon

2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil, plus 1 tablespoon
2 large sweet onions, sliced thinly into rings
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
good bit of fresh cracked pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
good grating fresh nutmeg

1/4 cup Gorgonzola (you can add more if you like but remember how potent it is!)

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, brought to a boil in a thick rimmed pot and boiled for 15 minutes, or until bubbles become small, foamy and vicious at which point you remove right away and stir vigorously so that it doesn't burn - mixture will thicken more as it cools

* This is a recipe that you will cook everything simultaneously - the onions simmering away on the stovetop while the bacon and squash cook in the oven.

Preheat your oven to 400. Scatter your butternut squash onto a large greased baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle 1 tablespoon olive or veg oil over, tossing to coat.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning over with a spatula midway, until golden edged and cooked through. (During this time you will also cook your bacon - laying the strips onto a small rimmed sheet pan and cooking for 15 minutes or until lightly crisped and cooked through. Remove it and let cool before crumbling into bits. Set aside.)

As soon as you get your squash in the oven, place 2 tablespoons oil into a dutch oven and put over medium heat. Add the sliced onions, seasoning with salt, pepper, and a teaspoon of sugar. Lower the heat slightly and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrunken and caramelized - about 40 minutes. Stir in the nutmeg and dried thyme.

You can now assemble your pizza. Take your prepared pizza crust and scatter over the gorgonzola, onions, squash, and bacon. Bake for 12-15 minutes until everything is warmed through and your crust is cooked to your liking.

Remove and drizzle with the balsamic glaze.

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