Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Stuffed Focaccia with Caramelized Onions and Italian Sausage


I am so excited to be sharing this recipe with you.  Hopefully, by this time, you've made a round of focaccia for yourself and have fallen deeply and madly in love with it.  If not, maybe this stuffed version will be the last bit of inspiration you need to grab your bag of flour and jar of yeast!  You're going to love this!  The aroma of freshly rising yeast dough and the soft, supple texture of the finished dough is like a little retreat....a retreat, you know, from the screaming kids in the background that are fighting over the the millions of pieces of Polly Pockets (as if there aren't enough of those little shoes to go around!), or from the little baby-man who is getting into all sorts of mischief....but I digress.  If I didn't know how amazing the baked result would be, I would totally be tempted to just eat the dough.  But, exercising some self-control and patience to wait for this to bake will be totally worth it with the first bite. 


Stuffed Focaccia with Caramelized Onions and Italian Sausage
Inspired by The Italian Dish but this recipe is my own creation

*You will need 2 springform pans

1 recipe of focaccia
olive oil
1 lb. Italian sausage
2 tbl. fresh parsley, chopped
3 large onions, peeled and sliced into rings, then halved
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 cup white wine (to deglaze the pan)
a large handful of fresh basil leaves, sliced into ribbons
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
a mixture of 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 tbl. water
kosher salt for sprinkling

Directions:
Prepare focaccia according to the directions, up to the end of the first rise.  Spray the bottoms and sides of the springform pans with nonstick spray.

In a large skillet, drizzle some olive oil over the bottom and add the Italian sausage and brown over medium heat.  Crumble and cook until no longer pink.  Add the chopped parsley.  Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.  Move to the refrigerator until the focaccia is ready to assemble.

While sausage is cooking, peel 3 onions and sliced into thin rounds.  In the same skillet, add more olive oil and add the onions.  Over medium heat, gently toss the onions and cook until they are softened and caramel-colored.  Stir onions frequently to prevent them from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan.  If the pan gets too dry, add a small splash of water.  Onions will caramelize best when cooked slowly.  Add the garlic to the onions and cook until garlic is softened.  Add the wine to the pan to deglaze it.  Scrape up any remaining brown bits from the sausage and incorporate them into the onions (amazing flavor!).  Continue cooking until the liquid has evaporated.  Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside. 

When focaccia has finished its first rise, punch down the dough to release trapped gases and remove from the bowl.  Gently shape into a large round, adding a bit of flour to remove any stickiness.  Cut the round of dough into 4 equal pieces.  One at a time, shape each piece of dough into a flat disc.  Place one disc into each springform pan on the bottm, making sure the disc is large enough to cover the bottom of pan.

To assemble the stuffed focaccia, add half of the Italian sausage to the bottom disc of dough.  Add half of the caramelized onions on top of sausage.

To slice basil leaves into ribbons, lay the leaves flat on top of each other, and roll lengthwise.  Starting at one end of the roll, slice through the leaves, making ribbons.

Add the basil ribbons to the top of the onions.  Sprinkle each pan with 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.  Top with the remaining discs of focaccia dough, taking care to cover the stuffing.  Cover with a thin, lintless towel and place back into warm oven for the second rise.

After the dough has completed the second rise (about 45 minutes), remove pans from warm oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and water until emulsified.  Using your fingertips, dimple the top of the dough, making small wells.  Brush the emulsified oil mixture over the top of the dough, filling the wells.  Sprinkle generously with kosher salt.

Bake for 15 minutes, until tops are slightly golden.

To serve, remove the sides of the springform pans and slice into wedges.

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