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Family Friendly Fridays: French Inspired Flatbread with Caramelized Onions and Pancetta

Where does your inspiration come from?  I fancy to say mine comes from extensive visits to far off and exotic cultures, ideas garnered while wandering around the inner workings of the CIA (that’s the Culinary institute of America, not the windowless government agency lacking even a pinch of food-based stimulation), and my daily afternoon tea break with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s personal chef.

The less sexy reality of it all is that this French inspired flatbread was a revelation of my weekly visit to the local Trader Joe’s.  Call me crazy, but some of my best ideas spring from that little grocery store with the brimming flavor profile.  While perusing the frozen food section, I came upon this very flatbread.  I looked at it for a minute and then a minute more.  “I can make this.”  I thought.  Not being one to turn down a challenge, I decided to plunge in; crust first.

I quickly discerned the first step in creating French inspired brilliance to be the caramelization of an onion.  If you’ve never done it before, don’t be afraid, I promise it’s real easy.  You ready?

Slice up an onion; I used a vidalia because I just love their delicious, sweet flavor.

Once finished, heat up a little butter and olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat and drop them into the mix.

Now cook ’em and cook ’em and then cook ’em some more; about thirty minutes worth in all.  Si Belle.

Seriously.  I have a thing for caramelized onions.  I’m actually surprised they made it to the pizza with the way they kept “sneaking” out of the pan.

While the onions are turning all beautiful and golden-like, grab up some basic ingredients and create a simple shell for your dinner.  I used a little flour, oil, salt, and water.

Roll it out thin and transfer to a greased up baking sheet.  If you’ve got a big baking stone, by all means use it.  My stone was a bit small for this experiment so I stuck with the next best thing.  Let me add, that I folded over the extra ends, but the next time I make this, I’d probably be just a wee bit less lazy and cut off some of the extra.  Of course, my kids loved the big hunks of crust better than the pizza itself, so maybe lazy isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Brush it with a little olive oil (even flatbread likes to get tan now and again) and slide it into the oven to bake up.  Pull it out and give it a chance to cool.

Here’s where we get all French and sophisticated.  Grab up some creme fraiche.   Now throw on your French Maid Costume, start speaking French (for me that entails saying bonjour, comment allez-vouz, and au revoir over and over again), hold the container with pinky finger lifted just so and dollop out about 4 ounces of the French cream.  Are you getting in touch with your inner Parisian yet?  If not, I’m sure you look darn good doing it.

Spread the cream around, add on the the onions and pancetta, and top it with a couple large handfuls of gruyere cheese.  If you’re feeling so inspired, you can add a few sprinkles of parsley for color as well.

Place the flatbread back into the oven and cook it through until the cheese is all bubbly and melted.

Check out this french masterpiece.

Monet and Van Gogh would be proud.  Ok maybe not proud, but definitely hungry.

Flatbread with Carmelized Onions and Pancetta

Total Time: 1 hour 15 min

Ingredients:

For the Onions:

1 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Vidalia Onion, Sliced (about 2 Cups)
1 Pinch Salt

For the Dough:

1 Cup Water
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 Cup + 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 1/4 Cups Flour

For the Finished Flatbread:

4 Oz. Creme Fraiche
4 Oz. Pancetta, Cubed
5 Oz. Gruyere Cheese, Shredded
1 tsp Parsley (Optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

For the onions, heat up the butter and and the olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add them to the pan and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. At the end of the cooking time, remove from heat and stir in a pinch of salt.

While the onions are cooking, combine together the water, salt, 1/4 cup of the olive oil and 3 cups of the flour. Form a dough ball.

Continue to knead flour into the dough, one tablespoon at a time (about 1/4 cup extra), until you achieve a smooth, elastic texture.

Roll the dough out thin and place it on a greased baking sheet. Brush with 1 Tbsp of the olive oil. If you have a large pizza stone at your disposal, preheat in heated oven before placing rolled out dough.

Place bread in the oven to cook for 10 minutes. Pull it out and allow a few minutes to cool back down.

Spread the creme fraiche over the dough, followed by the pancetta, onions, and finally the gruyere cheese.

Sprinkle parsley over the top of bread if desired.

Place flatbread in the preheated oven and cook for 10 minutes.