My mom was my first exposure to a creative cook. She thought out of the box. She looked through our fridge, hand on her hip and say “Well, I have nothing in here” and she would somehow produce a delicious dinner. Pizzas were her specialty when there wasn’t much in the fridge. When she was too busy to go shopping and needed to put dinner on the table.
The traditional vessel for our pizzas was a classic crust. My mom could get that dough so thin that the crust produced resembled a cracker, its only job was to hold the toppings and not give in under its weight. I still can’t achieve this.
I didn’t want the stress of attempting a thin crust pizza, not when I was later to get home than usual. I choose to use a baguette instead, simply cutting the loaf down the center and toasting it under my broiler, just enough to hold my toppings without falling apart. This set of toppings is the most exotic combination I have ever experienced in my young life and it took me some coercing to give it a try: Fig butter, caramelized onions, sausage, and crumbled blue cheese. Trust me, it is amazing.
Sherri’s French Bread Pizza
One Baguette Loaf
Fig Butter/Fig Jam
One Medium Yellow Onion
2 Tbsp Butter
Two Links Pre-Cooked Chicken Sausage
Crumbled Blue Cheese
Yields 2 Pizzas
I have made this pizza so many times over the years, every time I attend a pizza party these are the ingredients I bring. I want to pass on this experience to others, relish in the look of bewilderment as others take their first skeptical bite. I did make a few changes this time in my ingredients, but the integrity of the pizza is the same.
Begin by slicing a whole onion and caramelizing them in melted butter in a skillet over medium heat. Caramelizing onions is a slow process, don’t try to rush it by turning your stove on high you will only burn the sugars of the onion. Stir occasionally and sprinkle with salt to draw out the moisture. The onions will first begin to sweat, a shimmery coating will appear as the water from the onions make their way to the surface. Next, they will start to turn translucent and eventually begin to stick together as the sugars caramelize. You will be left with a sticky mass of light brown onions, a much smaller pile then what you started with.
As your onions are moving through their stages of life prep your bread. I was making four personal pizzas so one loaf was plenty, cut first in half then down the center lengthwise. Drizzle with olive oil and place under a broiler to toast the surface. Watch carefully, the bread is under direct heat and can burn pretty fast. Once toasted remove and set your oven to 400℉, placing a rack in the middle.
For this particular recipe, I chose pre-cooked garlic chicken sausage. In the past, I have used uncooked Italian sausage and crumbled it in the pan. While I was shopping the chicken sausage spoke to me and I liked the idea of a subtle garlic flavor this time around. A good recipe can always change and I encourage you to make edits for whatever your mood.
Slice your sausage and toss in the pan with your onions. We only need to heat these pieces up and coat them in the onion flavor.
Spread a thick layer of Fig Butter over each half of baguette. I have traditionally used fig jam, however, I did this shopping in Trader Joes and all they had was Fig Butter. There are some differences between the two. Fig Jam is sweeter, has a sugary jelly consistency with chunks of fig inside. I have found that the jam caramelizes nicely under high heat and the sugar provides a nice pairing to the earthy blue cheese. Fig Butter has a more intense fig flavor. It is less sweet and spreads more evenly, appearing to be blended figs to a smooth consistency and not cooked to the same sugary outcome as jam. Try both and find out which you like best!
To finish off place toasts on a cookie sheet, this part gets messy and we don’t need anything baking to the bottom of our oven. Sprinkle evenly with onions and sausages and add the final touch with a healthy dose of blue cheese. Place in the middle of your preheated oven to melt the cheese until it browns slightly under the flame.
The initial harsh bite of earthy blue cheese is followed by the gentle sweetness of caramelized onions, balancing the two flavors. Next, just a hint of garlic from the sausage comes to the front of your pallet, so subtle you almost miss it. Finally, creamy fig comes to blanket all other flavors, a little sweet and a little rustic. You can’t be sure why, but these flavors come together and you are surprised you ever doubted your mother’s ideas when it comes to food.
From my mother’s kitchen, to mine, and to yours. Enjoy this unconventional pizza!