Warning: The recipe I’m about to share with you does not qualify as gruel: It is not healthy. It does not include any vegetables to speak of, and no whole grains. It is not a soup, nor is it a stew. And there’s bacon involved.
The bacon is, in fact, deeply involved. I had imagined creating a vegetarian version of this recipe, but the pork products weren’t having it: The bacon is holding a gun to my head while the bacon fat writes up a list of demands, which include a fueled jet, $1,000,000 in unmarked bills, and not to be left off this ingredient list.
I wish I could blame the bacon for my behavior the first time I ate this dish, which was served by my mother-in-law as an appetizer, a little puff-pastry pizza topped with, well, bacon, tiny chunks of apple, and blue cheese, drizzled with honey, and sprinkled with shallots that had been cooked in, well, bacon fat. But it wasn’t just for the bacon that I ate my share of the pizza, and then more than my share, and then, feeling sheepish but unable to stop myself, all that was left without offering anyone the last piece. It was the combination of flavors that was so addictive: salty and smoky and sweet, slightly sharp from the blue cheese. A combination from which the bacon should not be omitted, or the bacon will kill its hostage.
Smoky-Sweet Puff-Pastry Pizza
Adapted from A Farmer in the Dell
1 sheet Pepperidge Farm puff-pastry dough
4 slices bacon
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon honey, plus more for drizzling
a handful of mozzarella cheese
a handful of Gorgonzola cheese
½ of 1 apple, diced
1. Thaw puff pastry according to package instructions and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. When the puff pastry is soft, roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle and transfer to a large baking sheet. Fold the edges over about ½ inch, press the border with the back of a fork, and brush the border with water. Poke holes in the rest of the dough with the tines of a fork.
2. Fry the bacon in a skillet, remove from the pan, and drain on paper towels, then chop or tear into bite-sized pieces. Add the shallot to the bacon fat in the pan and sauté until almost translucent, add honey and stir until the honey is thin, then pour the mixture over the puff pastry. Sprinkle the pastry with mozzarella cheese, apple, and Gorgonzola crumbles, then drizzle with a little more honey. Cook at 400 degrees for 15–20 minutes, until the edges are just golden.
This could be served as a very unhealthy and ungruel-like dinner with a side salad, or do as my mother-in-law did and cut it into squares and serve as an appetizer, preferably to people who will not bogart the whole thing. Whatever you do, please, please don't leave out the bacon.