Pizza with Brie, Pancetta, Leeks and Apple (French Pig Pizza)

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This could be one of my all-time faves. It’s got Brie, which checks off my need for cheese. It’s got pancetta, that’s sauteed up nice and crispy and adds a salty crunch. It’s got homemade pizza dough, another favorite. And it adds some savory yumminess with leeks and a spike of tartness from the apple. Top with balsamic drizzle. Oh yes. Thanks to Guy Fieri for this awesome recipe from his cookbook “Guy Fieri Food: Cookin’ It, Livin’ It, Lovin’ It.”

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This was awesome fresh out of the oven as well as reheated. How gorgeous is that?

TW’s Tips

  • If you reheat the leftovers, highly recommend using the oven or a toaster oven versus the microwave so you still get some crunch. The microwave makes it all chewy.
  • I bought the pizza dough pre-made at Whole Foods, but you could choose to make it yourself. Trader Joe’s also sells a frozen dough.
  • I bought the pancetta pre-diced which made my life much easier. If you don’t, make sure you buy it from the deli (it’s got to be a nicer deli that sells pancetta) and have the butcher thick slice it for you. Traditionally pancetta will be sliced really thin and you don’t want that here.
  • The better the cheese, the better the pizza. Amen to that.

Pizza with Brie, Pancetta, Leeks and Apple (French Pig Pizza)

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, diced
  • 2 cups leek matchsticks (2 by 1/4 inch, white and light green parts only)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • Salt
  • 1 Granny Smith or similar tart, firm apple, peeled and cut into 2 by 1/4-inch matchsticks
  • One 10-ounce ball pizza dough
  • 4 to 5 ounces Brie cheese with rind, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • Balsamic vinegar for drizzling
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Directions

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook until just crisp. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the skillet and add the leeks. Sprinkle with the pepper and a pinch of salt and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the leeks start to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the apples and cook for 5 minutes more, until the apples are golden but not falling apart. Turn off the heat.

Stretch the dough into a round. Top with the apple and leek mixture, then the Brie.

Bake the pizza for 10 to 12 minutes, until the crust is golden. Sprinkle with the pancetta, drizzle with the vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, slice and serve.

Chicken Paillard with Fresh Fig Salad and Blue Cheese

I have been wanting to make something with fresh figs, and finding them at the farmers market last week made this dish come together. From Tyler Florence: Chicken Paillard with Fresh Fig Salad and Blue Cheese.

This salad is exploding with flavor. Consider the ingredients and there’s no surprise why: Arugula. Blue cheese. Figs. Pancetta. Together, it’s the perfect blend of spicy, salty and sweet, crisp and soft, tart and smooth. Basically, you NEED to make this salad.

I cooked this for my friend Kim for a catch-up dinner after I’d been gone for two weeks. Combined with the bold, spicy Maurice Car’rie red wine she brought from our wine tasting trip to Temecula, it was a match made in heaven.

Reasons I love this dish: 1) It was SUPER fast. This is a true 30-minute meal. Pounding the chicken thin makes it cook really quickly. 2) I love blue cheese. 3) I love pancetta. 3) The warm dressing drizzled over the top is delicious. 4) Nothing is better than a speedy salad.

TW’s Tips:

  • Cooking the chicken in the pancetta drippings makes for a splattery mess. Cover with a splatter shield.
  • Using fresh, not dried, tarragon is critical.
  • Get really good quality blue cheese. I used Maytag. Don’t get the stuff they sell pre-crumbled. It’s not nearly as flavorful and creamy. Trust me, the price difference is worth it.
  • Fresh figs can be hard to find. The farmers market is your best bet.

Can’t wait to hear how you like this one!

Chicken Paillard with Fresh Fig Salad and Blue Cheese

Vinaigrette:

  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 medium lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chicken:

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound pancetta
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, broken into hunks
  • 1 bunch arugula, trimmed
  • 1 small basket seasonal figs, halved
  • Tarragon leaves for garnish, if desired

Directions:

Prepare vinaigrette: Whisk together all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a small bowl and set aside.

Prepare chicken: Sandwich chicken breasts between 2 layers of plastic wrap and pound them very thin with the side of a meat cleaver or a rolling pin. Remove chicken from plastic wrap and season well on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Unroll the pancetta so it looks like big strips of bacon. Add it to the pan and fry it like a tangle of bacon until the fat is rendered, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Drizzle a 2-count of olive oil into the pan with the pancetta drippings. Add the chicken and pan-fry for 3 to 4 minutes on each side to brown the breasts and cook them through. Use a spatula to remove the chicken to the paper towels with the pancetta. Add the vinaigrette to the sauté pan and heat for a few minutes, stirring, to deglaze the bits of pancetta and chicken from the bottom of the pan; take the pan off the heat.

To serve, arrange the chicken on a platter. Scatter the blue cheese, arugula, figs, and pancetta over. Drizzle the dressing over everything and garnish with the tarragon leaves.