Once a week, my husband and I enjoy homemade pizza night. It's become a wonderfully fun tradition and our toppings are often dictated by what's in season at the farmers market. While his side of the pie often look much different than mine -he's a major meat with a side of artichokes guy, while I'm heavy on the veggies- I recently had a major hankering for something that reminded me of Louisiana (where I grew up).
Collards and bacon fit the bill, and this marvelous pizza was born. It's the kind of dish that I would have been thrilled to order, eat and pay for in a restaurant. Quick-cooking the greens in a bit of the bacon drippings before putting them on the pizza keeps them moist and pretty on the hot grill or in the hot oven. If you can grill this pizza, the smokiness imparted in doing so is a great complement to the bacon on the pie. C'est bon? Oui!
Note: my husband and I roll our pizza dough out to 11.5" x 17" to best fit our stone and peel. This recipe will dress half of that crust. Feel free to double for a whole pie, or use the other side to try other great toppings. —em-i-lis
half of an 11.5" x 17" pizza
your favorite pizza crust
extra-virgin olive oil (I use unfiltered 100% Italian for this)
red pepper flakes
garlic cloves, peeled and very thinly sliced
strips good quality, thick-cut bacon
large collard green leaves, center ribs removed, leaves washed and chopped
buffalo or regular mozzarella (but good quality!), thinly sliced
Whether you're using a grill or the oven, preheat it to hot (about 450° ambient temp in the grill; 495° for convection oven*). If you're using a pizza stone, remember to put it on or in at this time (NOT when the grill/oven is already hot).
Roll out your crust on a piece of parchment. Drizzle your half with the olive oil, and then use your fingers to rub it in evenly. Sprinkle with the red pepper flakes and garlic slivers.
In a skillet, cook your bacon until about halfway or 3/4 of the way done. You don't want it to burn later. Remove and drain on paper towels. Pour out most of the bacon drippings, leaving just enough in the skillet to coat the bottom. Return the pan to medium-high heat, and add the chopped collards. Stir to coat with drippings and cook for 3-4 minutes. In the meantime, chop the bacon (I remove any egregiously sized fat chunks). When the greens have started to soften and wilt, throw the bacon crumbles back in, toss, and remove the skillet from heat. Don't overcook them.
Head back to your prepared pizza crust and atop the pepper flakes and garlic slivers, place the tomato and mozzarella slices. Then spoon your greens and bacon mixture evenly over all that.
If you're grilling, use a pizza peel to put the pizza (parchment and all) on the hot stone, and cook 7 minutes.
Remove from the stone and grate fresh pecorino over the top. Season with some Maldon if you think it needs it.
*When we use our convection oven without the stone, we prebake our crust for 7-8 minutes on parchment. Then we remove the crust from the parchment, dress it with our toppings and return to the oven to cook for another 11 or so minutes.
When using our oven and the stone, we don't prebake.
Sorry if this is confusing...many iterations over here. :)