Fabulous Focaccia

Super easy and flexible, focaccia is the perfect appetizer packed with flavor. I’ll be serving it with friends before the Lions kick-off on Thanksgiving afternoon and before the big meal is served.

3 large sweet onions, cut in thin strips
1 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for topping
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup butter

2 1/2 warm water (about 110 degrees)
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons active dry yeast
3 cups unbleached bread flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, cut in small pieces
1 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup corn meal

In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and the butter. Add the onions and simmer for 30 minutes until onions absorb the oil and butter and begin to turn lightly brown and caramelize. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.
While the onions are simmering, place the warm water and honey in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with yeast. Stir with a wooden spoon and let proof for 7-8 minutes. Yeast mixture should be bubbly. Alternately add salt, rosemary, 2 cups of the flour with 3/4 cup of the olive oil to the yeast mixture. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 3-4 minutes. If the dough is sticky, add a bit more flour. If it seems dry, add a bit of warm water or olive oil. Coat the inside of a large bowl with olive oil and place dough in the bowl. Turn the dough to coat it well. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm location for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Uncover the dough and punch it down. Transfer half of the dough to a floured surface. Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes. Shape into a rectangle. Dust the bottom of a cooking stone or large cookie sheet with corn meal. Place dough on top and shape to fit the pan, using your fingers to push the dough up the sides and making holes for the traditional focaccia design. Prick the dough with the tines of a fork. Let the dough sit and rise for about 45 minutes. Brush top with olive oil. Cover with the caramelized onions and parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with sea salt and additional herbs such as rosemary and basil. In this photo I put a layer of the “Raving about Raisins” from a previous recipe that adds a nice contrast of flavors with the caramelized onions. Toppings are limitless. Bake for 25 minutes. Top should be lightly brown. Remove from oven and serve warm.

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