I love belonging to Food ‘n Flix and being a co-host for Cook the Books, but I put a plea out to the membership: Please let’s not put the posting dates so close together. (That being said, I am sure those with better planning and organizational skills than I do just fine with the deadlines.)
I simply could not miss out on this month’s Food ‘n Flix round, hosted by Heather of girlichef. Heather is the creator of Food ‘n Flix and September marks the group’s 5th Anniversary. I didn’t discover this great group until April 2012. Since that time, I think I have only missed three rounds. (Again, it was scheduling and non-organizational issues on my part. Imagine that.)
For this very special post to mark the anniversary of FnF, I wanted to revisit one of the selections from the early years before I became a regular member. I had a great group of films from which to choose and I almost landed on Waitress. In the end, however, my nostalgic love for the 80s won out and I chose Mystic Pizza.
Mystic Pizza (1988) is the tale of three young women finding their way while working at a pizza shop in a small fishing town in Connecticut. To them, their hometown has little to offer. One has her sights set on leaving it all behind and attending Yale. One does not want to “settle” for her hometown boyfriend. One might find love and a “way out” with a rich country club kid. (Like them, I was also struggling with “what to do with my grown up self” in 1988 as college graduation was looming, and like them, I was not wanting to return to my hometown and just settle.)
I am totally simplifying the plot line and there are many twists when it comes to all the romance in the film, but these three women show their character and strength. It is their unlikely mentor, Leona, the shop owner, who steers them along the way. Seriously, don’t mess with Leona. What does she put in that pizza?
Well, I, for one, will share the secret ingredient in my Mystical Autumn Pizza:
Mystical Autumn Pizza
based on Free-Form Autumn Vegetable Tart with Bacon Marmalade from Food & Wine (October 2015)
12 oz. center cut bacon, finely chopped
1/4 c. canola oil
3 shallots, minced
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. chicken stock
3.5 oz. oyster mushrooms
3.5 oz. cremini mushrooms
1/2 lb. brussels sprouts, halved
1 c. butternut squash, cubed
2 T. olive oil
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1 c. torn Swiss chard leaves
1/2 c. grated Provolone cheese
Dough for one pizza
1 T. sage leaves, chopped
Make the marmalade first. In a large skillet, cook the bacon in the oil over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to drain.
Reserve two tablespoons of fat in the skillet. Add the shallots to the skillet and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the vinegar and brown sugar and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the vinegar is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the chicken stock and cook until reduced to a thick syrup, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in the bacon. (The original recipe calls to reserve the remaining bacon fat and whisk in 1/3 c. of it at this point. I just didn’t think the jam needed it.) Let cool until thickened slightly, then season with salt and pepper.
Prepare the toppings. Preheat oven to 425 F. On a large rimmed baking sheet lined with foil, toss the mushrooms with the brussels sprouts, butternut squash and olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast for about 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and lightly browned. Remove from oven and place in a large bowl. Toss with Swiss chard. Set aside.
Roll out pizza dough. Place on pizza stone, prick with a fork and bake in 425 F. oven for 5-7 minutes. Removed and top with bacon marmalade and cheese. Place back in oven and bake for 5 minutes more or until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and arrange vegetables on pizza. Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper and garnish with sage leaves.
The great thing about this dish is that the bacon and cheese are hidden beneath all the autumn veggies. Your family or guests will be thinking that they are in for a ho-hum vegetarian healthy meal. Wait until their taste buds hit the bacon marmalade!
This pizza would not hold a candle to Leona’s Heavenly Pizza, but I know my secret ingredient, bacon, might give her pause. This is an unorthodox pizza, sure, but I definitely wanted to highlight a bit more from our garden like our mini butternut squashes and Swiss chard.
I wonder what the Everyday Gourmet food critic might say? Would he call this “superb” as well?