Caramelized onions, anchovies, and olives come together as mouthwatering perfection.
Pissaladière is a southern French onion pizza made with anchovies and olives on an olive oil crust. There is nothing better than the juxtaposition of salty and sweet thanks to the briny anchovies and olives that permeate every bite of caramelized onion. It is typically prepared in a rimmed sheet pan, sometimes with tomato paste, made flat and cut into squares. This recipe makes two updates to the classic: first, a large, crosswise slice of a sourdough boule is used in place of a pizza dough, which makes it more of a thick-topped tartine; second; the onions are caramelized until mahogany in color (a classic pissaladière's onions have a lighter, golden hue). The flavors, though, are unmistakably classic!
Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; dry measuring cup; measuring spoons; large sauté pan (with high sides, if possible) with a tight-fitting lid; wooden spoon; rimmed sheet pan; parchment paper; offset spatula or butter knife
1, 1-inch thick slice sourdough boule (approximately 10-inches in diameter)
6 tablespoons butter, divided
4 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
3 large Vidalia onions, halved and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves removed and chopped (stems discarded)
8 anchovies, mashed
¾ cup pitted Nicoise olives
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Divide the butter in half. Let one half rest at room temperature to soften and set aside.
ILOC tip: if you are using anchovies packed in salt, be sure to rinse them first before mashing. If you are using anchovies packed in oil, do not worry about rinsing the anchovies.
2. Heat 3 tablespoons of butter plus 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large and deep sauté pan. Once the butter foams, add the onions, garlic, and a large pinch of salt. Mix well to incorporate the butter. Cover the pan and cook for five minutes to let the onions wilt. Remove the lid and stir in the anchovies and thyme.
3. Cook the onions, stirring frequently, for almost 40 minutes, until they are a deep, mahogany brown.
ILOC tip: along the way, once the onions become golden brown and begin to leave some of their sugar on the bottom of the pan, add a few tablespoons of cold water to the pan to scrape the bottom immediately and vigorously, to return that fond to the onions. The water will evaporate quickly. You might need to do this several times throughout the cooking process. Leave nothing on the bottom of the pan...better pissaladière and easier clean-up! It's all about technique, not torture.
Picture 12 above is the more typical color for pissaladière. That's about the 25-minute mark of sautéing.
4. Once the onions are mahogany brown and significantly reduced in volume, season generously with freshly ground black pepper and more kosher salt. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
5. Butter the sourdough slice with the remaining butter. Place the buttered bread on a parchment-lined rimmed sheet pan and spread evenly with the onions. Dot the top of the onions with olives and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
ILOC tip: if you want to use only a portion of the onion mixture and reserve the rest for alternate use, like eggs and omelets, go for it. This is a rich dish!
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the bread crisps. Remove from the oven. Season again, if desired. Slice and serve immediately.
Makes approximately 4-6 main course servings or 8-12 appetizer portions.