“FRENCH ONION SOUP” Inspired PIZZA By Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan
March 7, 2019
This recipe sprang from a desire to eat a glorious, steaming bowl of French Onion Soup with grilled crusty bread and gooey Swiss cheese.
But I was more than reluctant to invest the hours it would take to make an excellent beef broth; and anything less than an excellent broth would not be satisfying. Hence, this is how the ingredients of a classic French Onion Soup ‘shape-shifted’ their way into a pizza topping.
- Prep: 1 hr 20 mins
- Cook: 25 mins
- Yields: 6 - 8 slices, 2-4 servings
1-pound package prepared pizza dough
all-purpose flour for dusting counter and/or rolling pizza dough
4 pounds Spanish onions
5-6 tablespoons good quality olive oil, divided
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
1-2 tablespoons of grated Parmigiana Reggiano cheese
1-pound steak (Your choice of cut, I used ‘hanger steak’.)
2 teaspoons Montreal Steak Seasoning * (see note)
2 cups, loose -packed greens: mesclun mix, baby arugula, watercress or your choice
*Montreal Steak Seasoning
The ingredients of this now-popular rub descended from the ‘Montreal-Jewish/Eastern European-Deli culture’. (I had my first truly delicious bagel in Montreal many years ago—it wasn’t my FIRST bagel; it was my first really DELICIOUS bagel.)
The ingredients of the Montreal Steak Rub/Seasoning are part of the family of pickling spice mixes used in preparing deli smoked meats. The ingredients vary, but often include garlic, ground coriander seed, ground black pepper, dill seed, cayenne and kosher salt. I have a jar of Montreal rub that has caraway seed in the mix and I really like the flavor. You can make your own rub or purchase one of the many pre-made spice mixes.
Let the pizza dough come to room temperature for 45 minutes to one hour. Unwrap and coat the dough ball with flour and leave to sit. Cover with a clean towel. Pizza dough is easier to roll out when it has come to room temperature and the gluten strands have relaxed.
Peel the onions. Trim off both the stem and root ends. Cut the onions in half through the stem and root ends. Lay one piece of onion down on the cutting board, at a time, and cut into 1/8th-inch slices (or 1/4th-inch if that is safer for you to manage). Cut the onion into slices ‘against the rings’; that is, cut shorter slices than you would if you were cutting half-circles.
Heat a 4-quart Dutch oven or casserole pan over medium heat. Add the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Just before the fats start to smoke, add the sliced onions, stirring to coat in the fats. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt and mix again. Leave the heat on medium-high and stir the onions as they quickly cook and release juices. Evaporate the juices with constant attention to stirring and monitoring the heat level. The onions will have shrunk dramatically in volume.
At some point the onions will start to take on color and the juices will begin to evaporate. Don’t cover the pan, let the cooking onions ‘sweat’ and release their juices. Increasing the heat will help in the evaporation of excess juices. But you must monitor the process to prevent scorching the onions.
(Note: Many recipes will have you add sugar to aid in the caramelization process—I say “NO” to this!
The onions are full of natural sugar and slow and careful caramelization will bring out their sweetness.)
I say be patient. The caramelization of the onions will take 35 to 45 minutes and it is a technique worth learning. You will be rewarded with extra caramelized onions that could be used in an omelet or atop a juicy burger.
When the onions are softened and browned, taste for seasoning. Add more kosher salt if you like and freshly ground black pepper. Spread onions out on a dish to cool to room temperature.
Rub your steak with the Montreal Steak seasoning and set-aside.
Roll out the pizza dough. Or press it out with your hands. Lightly oil your pizza pan first. Use a round pizza pan or a rectangular ½-sheet pan. Press or roll out the dough to an even thickness. Flip the dough over in the pan, so both sides of the dough are oiled. Let rest, covered with cloth.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. While oven is heating cook your steak in a heavy skillet on top-of-the stove or grill it, if you wish. Cook it to medium-rare, about 135 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. (Of course, you may cook it longer if medium-rare is not to your liking!)
Set the cooked steak aside on a plate and let it ‘Rest’. Professional cooks always let cooked meat rest before slicing it, this gives the juices a chance to be re-absorbed into the meat. You will be rewarded with a tender and juicy steak.
When the caramelized onions are just warm to the touch, spread about 1 cup of them evenly and liberally over the surface of the pizza dough. Distribute the grated Swiss cheese evenly over the onions.
Slide the pizza into the pre-heated oven and bake until browned and crispy, about 20 minutes.
Of course, if you have a pizza stone, skip oiling the pan and sprinkle some cornmeal on your pizza peel. Build your pizza on the peel and slide it onto the heated stone in your oven.
When pre-heating the oven, feel free to increase the oven temperature to 425-450 degrees if you are accustomed to cooking pizzas at a higher temperature.
Remember, a higher cooking temperature requires more monitoring and a shorter cooking time.
Let the cooked pizza ‘rest’ while you finish the dish. Slice the steak thinly and add to a mixing bowl with the 2 cups of your choice of greens. Lightly dress with the remaining olive oil. Use just enough to moisten, not drown the greens. Add a pinch of kosher salt, fresh pepper and a sprinkle of grated parmigiana cheese. Toss ingredients to combine.
To serve: Cut the pizza into slices and arrange on a (warmed) platter. Distribute the sliced steak salad evenly over the top of the slices.