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Pissaladière,.. and no, it's not a pizza

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ChrisFlanders View Drop Down
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    Posted: 27 March 2012 at 09:38

I hope all of you ever get the chance to visit the french Provence, otherwise known as heaven on earth. This is one of those dishes from that area; pissaladière.

Pissaladière comes in a number of variations but mostly you will find things on it like a mountain of onion, garlic, sometimes tomatoes and always anchovis or anchovis paste which is called pissalat, hence the name of the dish. You could secretly call it a french pizza when there's absolutely no french people listening.

This one contains anchovis on olive oil, black olives, onion, thyme, a little garlic. I used a store bought pizza bottom but I have made this with puff pastry on other occasions, mostly when served as amuse, cut in smaller bitesize portions. Combined with a slightly cooled rosé wine or a pastis with icewater and you're in heaven too, wherever you are.

In France bakeries present these on large square oventrays and the crust is mostly breadcrust or a type of softer savory pie crust.

Preparing the onions; cut 4-5 large white onions, yes you need four or more large onions for a pissaladiere the size of a regular piece of office paper! Cut them in half, then in small slices. Fry these in a pan on medium low heat in olive oil and a bit of butter. Do not let them caramelize but cook them for ... at least 30 minutes, 45 minutes is top. Toss regularly. I also chopped 3 cloves of garlic and added when the onions were cooked halfway. I also added a good pinch of chili flakes and a lot of thyme stripped from their stalks. S&P to taste. Set aside and let cool.

Preparing the black olives; please, please, do always buy olives with the stones still in. They taste far superior and much more ferm than those soggy awful ones that are packed without stones. It's so easy to get rid of the stones. Put a few in a mortar and give them each a good bang with the pestle; the stone pops out and can easily be removed! (Same procedure with green olives).

Assembling the pissaladiere; spread the bottom dough open and cover generously with the onions. Put the anchovis on making parallel lines in one direction, then do the same in another direction. Put olives on as shown in the picture. That's it! No, no cheese at all! Remember also the anchovis and olives are quite salty, so easy with the salt. Put in the oven at 200°C to get a golden tan. Always check the bottom crust if it's cooked underneath before removing from the oven!

What to do with the remaining olives? I cut a clove of garlic, sprinkled a pinch of chili flakes on, crumbled some home-dried lemon verbena on and some of my best olive oil. Of course you can use any herb you like in this, but garlic is always a must. To be tasted the next day...

 

 

 

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 March 2012 at 09:47
another beautiful and informative post, chris, and one that i do intend to try. this pissaladière looks like a perfect use for anchovies and the flavours that go well with them.
 
thanks for a timely post and, as always, for such beautiful photography!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 March 2012 at 11:29

+1 on buying olives with the pits still in them. Thumbs Up

For those who don't have a mortar & pestle (and why don't you!), you can achieve the same thing with the side of your knife. Lay it flat against the olive (just like crushing garlic) and give the knife a good whack with your fist.
 
Of course, you could buy one of those olive/cherry pitter thingees. But only if you like being frustrated. As a group, if they're not the worst gadgets ever invented they run whatever is a very close second.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 March 2012 at 14:39
Outstanding! I am an anchovy lover of the first order, and have made this dish myself, but certainly not to the degree of culinary expertise displayed here.

Great job Chris...keep up the good workClap
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Marissa View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Marissa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 March 2012 at 11:29
I've seen this dish before and it looks so marvelous...but I'm not an anchovy lover! Seems like it won't be the same without them so I've never tried it...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ChrisFlanders Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 March 2012 at 05:53
You're right Marissa, the anchovy is a must. However, this is another version I made a year ago. I had bought anchovy in a tin coming from Greece. The anchovies were not fileted as they normally come, but consisted of whole small fishes, skin still on. They didn't taste salty at all... Also, instead of onion I used sliced fennel; a delicious experiment. 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 March 2012 at 07:52
A local market recently started selling white anchovies. These are skin-on filets in a marinade. I'm thinking of giving this a try using them.
 
The marindade is rather vinegary, so I'll go with the original, because the sweetness of the onions will counteract some of the acid.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 October 2013 at 16:20
I've been wanting to try this for quite a while, and not long ago, I was finally able too. My only advice to all of you is to NOT wait so long, as this is truly delicious!
 
I made one similar to Chris's above, cooking a mess of onions slowly and adding a bit of garlic to lend a nice undertone. I also decided to make my own dough for this, using my time-tested, delicious pizza dough recipe, which can be found here:
 
 
Where Chris used thyme, I added summer savory instead, since I had some on hand and the Beautiful Mrs. Tas is not fond of thyme, which is rather strong for her taste. The milder summer savory worked very well, but was unfortunately the last of my supply of that herb, so I will have to get some more. One other departure from Chris's original pissaladière is that I used green olives rather than black; the reason for this was that I had no whole black olives available - only pitted - and I wanted to take Chris's and Brook's advice. It seemed to me that the green ones worked quite well, providing a very fresh and bold flavour that I really enjoyed alongside the anchovies.
 
In any case, here is a shot of the pissaladière right before entering the oven:
 
 
I had a little trouble pitting the olives, using a mortar and pestle, but it wasn't too bad and was well worth the effort.
 
Here we are, straight out of the oven:
 
 
I was impressed! Both with the way the dish looked, and the way it smelled. The onions provided a beautiful aroma that was both sweet and savory at the same time, blending with the thyme, garlic, olives and anchovies into something that just seemed.....right. It was incredible, and so simple!
 
 
Eager to give this a try, I cut the pissaladière into slices and served it:
 
 
It was wonderful! I really cannot tell you how good this was, because hearing about it simply doesn't suffice - you just have to make one and see for yourself.
 
TBMT cannot stand anchovies - this is something I do not understand, but try to accomodate; with that in mind, I made her a pissaladière with sliced tomatoes in place of anchovies:
 
 
I tried a slice of this as well, and it was almost as good - full of summer promise to be sure - but lacking in that savory, umami-filled richness that anchovies lend to a dish. Still, it was very, very good, and I liked it. I believe it would make an excellent alternative for those who do not like anchovies, or perhaps for vegetarians.
 
I can't say it enough - this really is easy, delicious, and filled with so much goodness that it is perfect on a summer day - or any time of year, for that matter. A wonderful, rustic and unique treat for yourself or for friends.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 October 2013 at 17:24
Ron, did you come straight down with the pestle, giving each olive a good whack? That's the way it works best; the olive splits and the pit readily pops out.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 October 2013 at 22:18
Brook, I tried the mortar/pestle idea and made a real mess; then, I remembered reading that my Lodge cast-iron trivet can pit olives and cherries by forcing them through the holes with your thumb, so I tried that:



As you can see by the results, it wasn't perfect, but it did work. It seemed that these olives really wanted to keep their pits!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Effigy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 October 2013 at 00:33
Originally posted by TasunkaWitko TasunkaWitko wrote:

...It seemed that these olives really wanted to keep their pits!

Yessir they are a mission! Buy Pitted ones Wink  

Thanks to Margi my boys now like Olives AND Anchovies

Make her Olive Studded Keftades & Orange to cure olive doubts and I can't recall the one which simply used anchovies as a salt ingredient, but they are healed of that dislike as well.

Margi FTW!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote africanmeat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 October 2013 at 01:02
Olives is easy to pit as brook said ,but you must use a beer or a wine bottle , that have a Concavity at the bottom .so the olive doesn't run away .Wink
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