A Provençal Pairing for Melinda’s Rose

April 19th, 2023

Grilled Pissaladière au Fenouil

Like Melinda’s Rosé, this is a Napa Valley twist on a Provençal classic. Sweet, fresh fennel joins the traditional caramelized onions on this flatbread, melding seamlessly with the wine’s wild garrigue notes, and drawing out its fresh red fruit and orange zest aromas. Cooking the flatbread dough on the grill instead of the oven adds a charismatic crunch and char that’s perfect for summer dinners outside. The slow-cooked topping can be made several days ahead, and if you don’t want to make your own tender crust, a ball of standard pizza dough will get the job done.

This dish is just as delicious whether you eat it fresh off the grill, at room temperature several hours later, or reheated. Serves 16 as an hors d’oeuvre, 8 as a light main course.

¼ cup warm water
1 Tbsp instant yeast
½ tsp sugar
1⅔ cup (7 oz) all purpose flour
½ tsp kosher salt
1 large egg
2 Tbsp olive oil, plus a bit for oiling the bowl

4 medium (2 lbs) yellow onions
2 whole (1¼ lb) bulbs fresh fennel
8 big cloves garlic, chopped
6 Tbsp olive oil, separated
4 sprigs fresh thyme (or ½ tsp dried)
½ tsp kosher salt
8-10 anchovy filets, cut lengthwise into thin strips
24 niçois or other small black olives, pits removed

To make the dough: Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water, then set aside until the yeast foams up. Meanwhile, combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Crack the egg into a small bowl with the olive oil and whisk with a fork. Using your fingertips, stir the egg-oil mixture into the flour mixture, and then add the yeasted water. Knead the dough for a few minutes until smooth, then shape into a ball. Lightly oil the large mixing bowl, cover it tightly, and set it in a warm corner somewhere to rise for 2-4 hours.

To make the topping: Peel and trim the onions, and slice thinly (¼”) with the grain that runs from root to stem. Remove the fennel stems, fronds, and tough core; save for another use. Slice the layers of the fennel bulb exactly like the onions. In a large pot or dutch oven, mix the onions, fennel, chopped garlic, thyme, and 5 Tbsp of the olive oil with ½ tsp salt. Cover the pot loosely with parchment paper or aluminum foil and cook over very low heat 45-60 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so until the vegetables are soft and pale green-gold. (Add ¼ cup of water as needed to prevent browning and sticking.) When the vegetables are completely soft and sweet, season to taste with salt and pepper and remove fresh thyme stems.

Preheat the grill to high, and clean and oil the grates. Punch down the dough and put it on a large piece of parchment paper dusted with flour. Roll or stretch it into a large round or rectangle about ¼-inch thick. Turn the grill to medium-high, and carefully transfer the dough from the paper to the grill. Cover and cook for 45-60 seconds. Flip the dough over, cover again and cook for another 45 seconds. Set the grilled crust aside with the flatter side on the bottom. Brush the top edges of the crust lightly with the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil. Spread the caramelized topping evenly over the top of the crust, leaving just a narrow border at the edges. Arrange the sliced anchovy filets in a crosshatch pattern, and garnish each square with an olive.

Slice into wedges for a starter or main course, or smaller pieces to enjoy for l’apéro.

Recipe & photo by Hedonism Ink.

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