Today is one of those days when I wish you all lived next door or across the street. I mean, I would always welcome you as neighbors--you might even already be my neighbor. I wouldn't know, because in Las Vegas it seems like nobody knows their neighbors, at least not by name. Our neighbors are more like "guy who likes to ride his motorcycles and annoy our dogs at 10 p.m." or "lady whose recycle bins contain an awful lot of wine bottles." Hmmm..... I wonder what they call me?
Anyhow, I digress. I whipped up this gorgeous focaccia recipe last night--definitely a contender for the best focaccia I have ever eaten--but, as I often tend to do, I made too much for just the two of us. Eric is a pretty ambitious eater, although you wouldn't know it from looking at him. Despite the fact that he can easily polish off 2/3 of a large pizza, 24 ounces of milk and a generous portion of chips and salsa (which clearly should always be eaten with pizza) in one sitting, I just don't think that we are going to make it though an entire half-sheet pan of focaccia before it is not quite as gorgeous as it is right now.
Such a shame. If you were my neighbor, then I could just pop on over, knock on the door (or walk right in like those wacky neighbors always do on sitcoms) and yell "Focaccia Party!!", and we could have a lovely evening finishing off the batch washed down with a little sangiovese. But since that is not an option, and I don't like to waste precious food, perhaps I can come up with an alternative use for my leftovers? O.K., I've already come up with another use, but I'm saving the big reveal for a future post. I know, you're on the edge of your seat with suspense, aren't you?
Until then, please enjoy this recipe (or if you have no intention of making it, please enjoy the photos of this recipe!), containing one of my favorite savory flavor combinations: prosciutto, rosemary and Gorgonzola cheese, a trio that seems to hit every single taste bud in my mouth. If you're looking for a variation on these toppings, try lightly crisped bacon or diced cooked pancetta for the prosciutto, blue cheese for the Gorgonzola and thyme or sage for the rosemary. You can also add thinly sliced apples or pears for an extra layer of goodness.
The dough for this focaccia is made extra soft and moist by the addition of both extra-virgin olive oil and some mashed potato! Fragrant rosemary, salty crisp prosciutto and tangy Gorgonzola create a flavor combination that will make the entire pan disappear in no time.
- 2-1/4 tsp (11 mL/1 packet) active dry yeast
- 1 tsp (5 mL) honey
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) warm water, about 110F degrees
- 4-1/2 to 5 cups (1.125 L) all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) salt
- 1 tsp (5 mL) ground black pepper
- 1 large russet potato, peeled, boiled and mashed
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1-1/2 tbsp (22 mL) finely chopped fresh rosemary
- Coarse salt
- 4 oz (125 g) thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
- 3/4 cup (175 mL) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
- Place yeast and honey in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook; add warm water and stir to combine. Let the mixture sit until very foamy and fragrant, about 10 minutes.
- Add 4-1/2 cups flour, salt, pepper, 1 cup (250 mL) mashed potatoes and 1/3 cup (75 mL) of the olive oil to the bowl. On medium-low speed, mix until the ingredients come together. Increase the speed to medium and continue to mix, adding more flour 1 tbsp (15 mL) at a time as necessary, until the dough becomes soft and elastic, about 5 minutes (dough should not be very sticky.)
- Gather the dough together and knead a few times with your hands on a lightly floured work surface. Shape it into a ball then transfer it to a large bowl that has been lightly coated with olive oil. Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a warm, draft-free location to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 425F (215C). Lightly coat a half-sheet pan (17X12X1 inches) with olive oil. When dough has risen, transfer it to the sheet pan and use your hands to guide it into an even layer so that it covered the entire surface. Use the tips of your fingers to form dimple impressions all over the top of the dough. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top.
- Bake the focaccia for 10 minutes, then sprinkle the top with the rosemary and a bit of coarse salt (depending on how salty you like your focaccia). Scatter the prosciutto evenly over the rosemary, followed by the Gorgonzola cheese.
- Return the pan to the oven to bake until the top of the focaccia is golden brown and the prosciutto is crisp, about 15 minutes more. Let the pan cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving (focaccia is great both warm and room temperature.)
While it is best the day it is made, the focaccia can be tightly covered in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.