Until recently, I was convinced the triumvirate of perfect pizza toppings was tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil. Simple. Classic. Delicious.
Then I encountered a maple-bacon-butter pizza and discovered new depths of pizza perfection and appreciation. But first, a disclaimer seems warranted. If this pizza was on a menu, it most certainly would not have one of those happy little heart icons next to it. Digest at your own risk.
I was attending an outdoor festival being catered by a pizza food truck, Mountain Fire Pizza based in Gorham, N.H. Their menu listed the maple-bacon pizza, and it held no appeal to me. My bacon-loving 8-year-old, however, had other ideas. So we ordered one.
The sauce-free pizza arrived sprinkled with bacon and dripping with butter. It was, simply put, breathtakingly delicious. And I knew I had to recreate it.
Predictably, the Internet abounds with recipes for pizza made with maple-cured bacon. But the pizza I'd had went well beyond that. There clearly was maple syrup or sugar involved, as well as an ample helping of butter to keep things interesting. So I started playing.
In the end, the pizza I created was refreshingly simple. A basic crust topped first with mozzarella, then cooked bacon, them more mozzarella, and finally dollops of maple compound butter (made by blending softened butter with granulated maple sugar). It's as good — and unhealthy — as it sounds.
Start to finish: 30 minutes
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons granulated maple sugar
20-ounce ball prepared pizza dough, room temperature
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
12 ounces bacon, cooked and crumbled
8-ounce ball fresh mozzarella, sliced
Heat the oven to 500 F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, mix together the butter and maple sugar until well blended. Set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, carefully roll out the pizza dough to about a 14-inch circle. You may need to use your hands to stretch the dough if rolling alone doesn't work. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet.
Sprinkle the grated mozzarella cheese evenly over the dough. Top the mozzarella with the bacon, distributing it evenly over the pizza. Arrange the slices of fresh mozzarella over the bacon. Using 2 spoons, scoop and dollop the maple sugar butter evenly over the pizza. The dollops do not need to be spread; they will melt in the oven.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the crust is puffed and browned and the cheese at the centre of the pizza is lightly browned. Let the pizza rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
Nutrition information per serving: 1,000 calories; 600 calories from fat (60 per cent of total calories); 67 g fat (27 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 130 mg cholesterol; 68 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 10 g sugar; 37 g protein; 1,440 mg sodium.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Food Editor J.M. Hirsch is author of the cookbook "High Flavor, Low Labor: Reinventing Weeknight Cooking." Follow him to great eats on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch or email him at jhirsch(at)ap.org.