Monday, January 17, 2011

Black Pepper and Fennel Seed Focaccia: Perfect with Pig

Although I may not have mentioned my Ludlow Farm pig in a while, I have certainly been enjoying it. All good things come to an end, and last night we pretty much finished off what was left, roasting a beautiful pork loin, Tuscan-style, with garlic and rosemary. As an accompaniment, I baked this Black Pepper and Fennel Seed Focaccia. I am very much looking forward to a new new pig in the Spring. Here is the recipe:

Black Pepper and Fennel Seed Focaccia
Makes one 15-inch by 10-inch flatbread

One 8-ounce baking potato, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
1 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons fine sea salt plus more for sprinkling
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Place the potato in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, mash with a potato masher, and set asie to cool completely.
2. Combine the water, yeast, flour, salt, olive oil, mashed potato, fennel seeds, and black pepper in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl. Stir with a rubber spatula until a rough dough forms.
3. With an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, knead the dough until it is smooth and soft, about 7 minutes on medium speed. Alternately, scrape the dough onto a lightly floured countertop. With floured hands, knead the dough with steady strokes until it is smooth, 10 to 12 minutes.
4. Spray the inside of a dough rising container or large mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until the dough has doubled in size and when poked with a fingertip doesn't spring back, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
5. Spray the bottom and sides of a 15 1/2-by-10 1/2-inch pan that measures at least 1 inch deep with nonstick cooking spray. With moistened hands, flatten the dough and press it into the pan. Lightly sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and loosely drape with plastic wrap. Let stand until puffy and almost doubled, about 1 hour.
6. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Just before baking, use your finger to dimple the dough at 2-inch intervals. Drizzle the dough with two or three tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
7. Bake until the bottom of the focaccia is golden brown and crisp and the top is golden also, about 25 minutes.
8. Use a spatula to remove the focaccia from the pan and slide it onto a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes and serve warm, or cool completely and serve at room temperature.

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