A SPECIALTY FROM NICE: LA PISSALADIÈRE







The Pissaladière
The pissaladière is a specialty from Nice and its area on the French Riviera. To make it simple, this is a pizza without tomato, consisting of a pizza-like crust topped with a compotée d’oignons, i.e. a layer of slowly cooked and slightly sweetened onions and with anchovies (and/or olives) disposed in a lattice pattern. But, please, if you go in the Nice area and if your meet with Niçois, the inhabitants of Nice, don't tell them that this is a pizza!!! The Niçois might not be so "nice" then! I know, you will tell me that pizza and pissaladière comes from the same word... and that "z" and "s" are practically the same. For instance, an "s" preceding a vowel is said "z" in French. If this is not a proof!!!
And no, it is not. Etymology have some detours and subtleties where two very similar words referring to two quasi similar dishes (and here, I am not talking of pineapple pizzas!) have nothing to do together. Pizza refers to a word meaning bread that you can find in “pitta” in the Middle-East. Here, correct me if I'm wrong, the "t" became a "z" when moving to the West. But the "z" didn't become an "s" when moving further to the West. In fact, pissaladière comes from pissalat. "So what?", you said. Yes, but pissalat was a kind of fish paste coming from the old Nice dialect "peis salat", and meant "salted fish". No bread at all there!!!
The story of the pissaladière is that the pissalat was a very much popular, and cheap, dish, made with all parts of fish mixed together to form some kind of paste. But as you can imagine, it also had a very strong fishy taste. This is why it was eventually associated with onions, the sweetness of which was cutting through the pungency of the fish...
The pissaladière could be made with canned anchovies or with fresh anchovies. Although it is obviously better with fresh anchovies, like the pissaladière pictured above, it is generally made, for a commodity reason, with canned anchovies. In this case, it is important to unsalt the anchovies. My version here is made with fresh anchovies, the filets of which were marinated in white wine, olive oil and lemon juice, with slices onions, lemon rind threads and salt. The pissaladière also include, sometimes, those little black olives typical from the  area, the olives pitchounette (meaning petite, i.e. small).



Difficulty
Cost
Preparation
Resting
Cooking
n

$
30 minutes
2 to 12 hrs (marinade)

30 minutes


Ingredients 2 or 4 servings*
respectively for a starter or a unique meal
For the dough:
§  250 g of AP flour
§  2 tsp. of (dry) baker yeast
§  1 tsp. of salt
§  1 tsp. of sugar
§  ¼ cup olive oil
§   a few lemon rind threads
§  ½ glass of lukewarm water, to adjust
OR
§  A ready-to-use pizza dough!

For the filling:
§  1.5 big or 3 medium size white onions, finely sliced
§  1 crushed garlic head
§  12+ filets of anchovies, fresh or canned
§  Optional: small black olives
§  1 tbsp. of sugar
§  Thyme or other Provence herbs
§  3 tbsp. of olive oil (onions)
§  1 tbsp. of olive oil (crust)

In case of fresh anchovies:
§  6 fresh anchovies, or more
§  A mixture of olive oil, dry white wine and lemon juice, around 1/3 of which, in a sufficient quantity to cover the anchovy filets and the onions
§  A small sliced onion (or the equivalent quantity with a bigger onion)
§  Thin julienne of organic onion rind (here Meyer lemon)
§  1 tsp. of sea coarse salt
Instructions

§  If you use fresh anchovies, gut them with your index (it is very easy) and use the extremity of a knife, or your finger again, to remove the central bone. It will come easily, with head and the tail, so that you just got those beautiful silver filets. Rinse them under water, tap them dry, possibly remove the remaining bones, and just marinate them for a couple of hours, or better overnight, in the fridge,
§  If you use canned anchovies, rinse them, then unsalt them by soaking them in milk,
§  Cook the onions plus the sliced onion and lemon rinds from the marinade in olive oil, with the herbs, garlic, sugar, but not salt. First, because, the anchovies and possibly the olives may be very salty and, also, because salt will have for effect to color the onions and you don't want that. Cook the onion, uncovered, for 1.5/2 hours till they (almost) get the texture of a jam. Salt and pepper then, taking account of the saltines of your anchovies and olives (if any), 
§  Meanwhile, make a dough with the flour, the olive oil, the salt, the sugar, the yeast, the rind threads and the sufficient quantity of water to obtain a silky and elastic dough. Yes, it is very similar to a pizza dough). Let it rest covered up and rise up to twice its initial volume while the onions are “jamming”,
§  When the   onions are like a jam and the dough has risen up, flatten the dough with your hand (yes, like a pizza… but don’t repeat it) on a oven plaque that you will have previously covered with a parchment sheet and floured, ed oven plaque, giving it a geerally rectangular form.
§  Spread the onions on the dough to form an approximately 0.5 cm thick layer, dispose the anchovy fillets in a lattice pattern and, possibly, place olives in the center of each anchovy losange,
§  Preheat your oven at 450 F, then set it up at 350 F and bake your pissaladière for around 30 minutes or till it reaches a nice golden brown color. Around 5 minutes before it is ready, brush olive oil on the outside crust to enhane its color
§  Let rest and savor lukewarm with a simple lettuce and an olive oil vinaigrette...


Gallery
Preparation of the anchovy filets

Before baking
With canned anchovies and olives



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