Caramelized red apples, crispy bacon, Asiago, popcorn, Granny Smith apple slices with blackberry caramel sauce drizzle
This week's recipe was inspired, obviously, by carnival food: popcorn, caramel apples, and of course we threw in some bacon for good measure (think of it as a corndog substitute). It's sweet, it's salty, it's better than winning a goldfish.
1 ball of pizza dough
salt & pepper
flour for dusting
semolina flour for pizza stone
a couple handfuls of shredded asiago cheese
2-3 slices of bacon
1-2 Granny Smith apples, sliced
1/3 cup popcorn kernels (you can also use regular microwaveable popcorn if you like, but this will allow you to control the flavor, plus it's fun to do)
coconut oil if popping popcorn (or another oil with a high smoke point)
For the caramel sauce:
1 cup sugar
2 cups blackberries
1/4 cup rice vinegar
For the caramelized apples:
2 cups apples (a sweet & tart variety like Jonagold or something similar), peeled & diced
3 tablespoons raw sugar
apple cider vinegar, to taste
a few leaves of fresh sage, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Start by making your caramel sauce—if you want to save time, you can make this up to a week in advance and keep it in the fridge, but it’s not necessary. To start, heat the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Leave it be until you see it start to melt and turn golden brown around the edges, then you can stir it all together and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until it is completely melted and has turned a deep amber, about 6-8 minutes.
Take the pan off the heat and carefully add the vinegar. This will cause it to bubble and seize up. Now you can add the berries and return it to medium heat, until the caramel has melted again and the berries have softened, another 6-8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
When you’re ready to start making your pizza, preheat your oven to 550° F, or as hot as it will go. Heat a bit of olive oil in a sauté pan over high heat until it starts to shimmer.
Add the apples, adjusting the heat to keep them at a gentle sizzle, and let them cook until they start to brown on the edges. Now add the sage, continuing to cook and stir occasionally so that the apples are browned on all sides.
Sprinkle the sugar onto the apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until they become caramelized.
Add a splash or two of apple cider vinegar and let it reduce over medium-high heat. Repeat this process until the vinegar level suits your taste, then remove from the heat and stir in the butter until it is fully melted.
While your apples are cooking, you can start on the popcorn. Heat about 3 tablespoons of coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
Throw a couple lone kernels in first to test the heat of your oil. You can also add some salt now, to ensure it will be evenly distributed once your popcorn pops. As soon as these first kernels pop, you can add the rest of your kernels in an even layer. Cover the pot, remove it from the heat and set a timer for 30 seconds.
At the 30 second mark, return the pan to the heat—the kernels should start popping pretty much all at once at this point. Shake the pan back and forth a bit to make sure all of the kernels are making it to the heat, and leave the lid slightly ajar to let some of the steam out.
Once the popping slows to a pop or two every few seconds, you can take the pan off the heat and remove the lid completely. If you like, drizzle some melted butter and/or extra salt overtop.
Next, lay your bacon strips out in a pan a couple at a time and turn the stove to medium. They’ll cook best if you don’t preheat the pan ahead of time. Once they’re sizzling and turning brown on one side, turn them over and let them cook for a few minutes on the other side.
When they’re finished, take them out and let them drain and get crispy on a paper towel. Repeat with as many bacon strips as you like, then break them up into 1-2 inch pieces.
Now you can start preparing your dough using the instructions on the right. After you’ve baked it for a minute, take it out and brush it lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle the cheese on top, followed by the caramelized apples and bacon.
Next, spread out your Granny Smith apple slices and drizzle the blackberry caramel sauce over the whole pizza. Pop it in the oven and bake until the cheese is melty and the crust is a nice golden brown. Take it out, scatter your popcorn on top, and enjoy!