When we were packing up our farmhouse in Umbria getting ready to head back home, I did my best to use up all the fresh ingredients I had in my refrigerator and pantry. For this recipe I pulled out the last of my peppered guanciale, an unsmoked type of Italian bacon, and used up the last of my red onions I cut off the large string of onions I had hanging in my kitchen. I decided to make an onion focaccia, and to include some of the rendered chopped guanciale for lunch one day to go along with a nice bowl of country bean soup. If you do not have access to guanciale, pancetta will do just fine, and thyme or parsley can be used in place of the rosemary. Although you could use yellow onions in place of red ones, I prefer the sweetness of sauteed red onions. Slices of this focaccia would be great on an antipasti platter, and the focaccia is as delicious at room temperature as it is warm from the oven.
Making a basic focaccia is a very easy way to begin making bread if you have never tried it before. Depending on how large you stretch your dough, this foccacia can be made thick enough to be used for sandwiches which will create a softer bread, or by spreading it out thinner on the pan before baking it will have a crisper crust.
Deborah Mele 2011
- 2 Teaspoons Instant Yeast
- 1 1/2 Cups Warm Water
- 4 - 4 1/2 Cups All-purpose, Unbleached Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Chopped Rosemary
- Coarse Salt
- 4 Medium Onions, Peeled & Thinly Sliced
- 2 Cups Diced Guanciale
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, teaspoons of salt, olive oil, yeast and half the water.
- Continue to add as much water to create a shaggy dough.
- Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon and then your hands.
- Transfer to a floured work surface and knead by hand for a few minutes or until smooth.
- Place in a well oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
- In a heavy frying pan, heat the live oil and add the diced guanciale.
- Cook over medium heat until the guanciale begins to brown.
- Scoop the guanciale from the pan and set aside in a bowl, leaving the oil in the pan.
- Add the sliced onions to the pan and stir well to coat with the oil.
- Cook over medium low heat 10 to 15 minutes, or until the onions are very soft and just beginning to brown, then set aside.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Punch down dough and place on a 13 X 9 inch oiled baking sheet, forming into an oval or rectangle.
- Dimple the top surface with your finger tips, and then evenly spread the onions across the top.
- Sprinkle with the guanciale pieces, and then sprinkle with coarse salt and rosemary.
- Let rise for about 20 minutes, then bake about 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.