By now, you realize, if you have been reading this blog, that I don’t generally publish recipes for “conventional” food. I like to try and stretch the reader’s palate a little, and encourage you to try foods and combinations that tend to drift a little from what most people are used to eating.
Well, here we go again! I call this SMOGG pizza, and I am really using the term “pizza” in the more artisan, avant-garde sense. Although it’s a bread like base, and it’s covered in cheese, there’s no tomato sauce component, and there’s one ingredient that will, like many of my recipes, instantly discourage a portion of my readership. But, as always, I encourage you, no, I beg you to indulge me and give this a try. Then, if you find it does not appeal to you, by all means, comment. Rip it apart, complain, call me a moron, but do something!
If you have read this far, you might as well get the gut punch right away – SMOGG stands for (prepare yourself) Sauerkraut, Mushrooms, Onions, Garlic, and Green Beans. Yup, you read it right – Sauerkraut. But, not just some canned grocery store salty shredded cabbage stuff, carefully prepared, cooked and spiced sauerkraut that you make yourself, and using it on this “pizza” is just one of its many wonderful applications. Try it with roast pork or on a hot dog and prepare to be amazed.
It’s best to cook the kraut a day ahead of time, because a little rest in the fridge develops and intensifies the flavor, and mellows the bite that sauerkraut is known, and often disliked, for.
Sweet Mellow Kraut
4 strips nice thick hickory smoked uncured bacon
1 jar (24oz.) German or Polish sauerkraut (never from a can, and never the “Americanized” stuff.)
1-2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp freshly ground caraway seed
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp dried dill weed
2 oz. inexpensive sake
fresh ground pepper
Gently render the bacon in the bottom of a Dutch oven.
Once some of the fat starts to come out, sprinkle it with about 2 tsp. of sugar.
Keep rendering, watching your heat so the sugar doesn’t burn, until most of the pieces have developed a nice golden brown. A few dark pieces are good too.
With the bacon sizzling nicely, dump in a whole 24oz jar of nice German sauerkraut and stir it all up well. If the jar is very “juicy,” drain some of the juice first. It should be wet, but not running with juice.
Add a full teaspoon of freshly ground caraway seeds, a rich grind of fresh pepper, and about 1/4 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg.
Stir it all up and lower the heat to a simmer
Sprinkle the top of the pile liberally with about a tablespoon of sugar, and about 1/2 tsp of dried dill weed and the sake.
Cover the pot and let it simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes.
Taste it for pepper and sugar. It should be sweet, and smoky. It’s OK to add a little more sugar if it’s too sour, stir, simmer for 5 minutes, and re-taste.
When it’s done, and sweetened to taste, let it cool on the stove, then pack it into a storage jar or container, and set it into the fridge for at least 24 hours.
Making SMOGG Pizza
Preheat your oven, preferably with a pizza stone in it, to 425° F.
1 ea typical 12″ round thin pizza shell. Boboli, generic, make your own if you are ambitious
1/4 oz. garlic infused olive oil
1/4 tsp granulated garlic
3 oz. mix of freshly grated Parmesan, Asiago, and Pecorino Romano cheeses
3 oz. previously made sauerkraut
1 or 2 very fresh white button mushrooms, sliced very thin
1/2 ea. onion, julienne
1 doz. fresh French green beans (Haricots Verts), cleaned, cut in half
3 ea. fresh garlic cloves, sliced very thin
fresh ground pepper
Paint the edges of the pizza crust with a nice coating of garlic oil, then brush a light coat all over the surface.
Sprinkle a thin layer of the grated cheese on top of the oiled crust, then the granulated garlic. Grind on some pepper.
Evenly spread a layer of the sauerkraut next. If it’s fresh from the fridge, you can almost sprinkle it by hand, or use a fork. Avoid big lumps, but you do not have to completely cover all the cheese.
Next, add a layer of the onion strips, and a layer of the mushrooms. Then arrange the green beans evenly around the crust.
Expand this picture, and see the relative amounts of the ingredients. You can also switch the order of the green beans and the onions. That will allow the onions, now nearer the top, to burn and caramelize slightly. Your call.
Now, liberally cover the whole pie with the remainder of the grated cheese mixture.
Arrange the garlic slices evenly around the pizza.
Put it into the oven for 8 minutes, or until a few of the garlic bits begin to brown.
Take it out and let it cool on a cooling rack for 3 minutes to firm it up. Slice and enjoy with a Weiss-bier.
Mangiare, mein Freund, Bon Appetit!