Wood fired Brie Pizza with Carmelized Onions and Poached Pears
At my house, we put in an outdoor kitchen a couple of years ago because, well you know, one kitchen to clean isn’t enough. As part of that project, we installed a wood-fired pizza oven. Despite the huge effort and expense of building our outdoor kitchen, it is something that we would never give up. We have spent hours and hours with family and friends hangin’ out in the outdoor kitchen listening to music and sharing some laughs. One of the most popular thing to do is to hang out on summer evening eating pizza and having the odd glass of wine. One of the crowd favourites is Brie Pizza with Carmelized Onions and Poached Pears.
There are a few steps to this pizza but it is well worth it! I know it might sound a little odd but I use a spicy jam or jelly in place of the “sauce”. In my case, because I like to support my local folks, I use Saunders Spicy Jam.
As you will see from the link to their website, they have a variety of jams and jellies but my favourites for this pizza are the jalapeno raspberry or the jalapeno blackberry. If you can’t get Saunders Jams where you are, any jam, spicy or not, would be good. I happen to like a little kick to my food so I always go for a spicy jam or jelly.
A couple of other points on my pizza recipes. We make the dough from scratch and the pizza sauce from scratch etc etc. That is just because I think it is better but you CAN ALWAYS make life a little easier on yourself. Sometimes, doing all of that is exhausting and you just want to have a yummy pizza. As my husband says fairly routinely, “why do you make this so hard on yourself?” Buy a pizza round from the local grocery store and some pizza sauce if you are making a traditional pizza. There won’t be any finger wagging going on here! Don’t buy that pre-shredded mozzarella though — it just isn’t as good and has extra junk in it that I don’t think is all that great for you.
For this pizza, we make the dough about 3 hours ahead so it has time to prove. (Yes, that is the royal we, my husband actually usually makes the dough). Find out his process here. While the dough is rising, I carmelize the onions and poach my pears. I have also used apples in a pinch and they are also good.
For this Brie Pizza with Carmelized Onions and Poached Pears, you must plan for time to carmelize the onions. There are lots of resources out there on carmelizing onions but if there is one thing I could say, it is PATIENCE. It takes a long time, like 40 minutes, to carmelize an onion. Don’t rush it, or you will have scorched onion, which isn’t nearly as tasty. To carmelize the onion, I slice it across the grain into rings and lace a pot with some olive oil. Warm up the oil on medium and add the sliced onions. Once the onions have warmed a little, reduce to low. I have a gas stove top and find that I need to put the simmer ring down in order to properly carmelize the onion. Cover and stir occasionally. If you find that you are getting some sticking on the bottom of the pot, double check your temperature. If you can’t get it any lower, add a little water to slow things down or a little sherry. I consider the onions done when they are soft and a carmel colour.
To poach the pears, I peel them and remove the seeds. Then I slice them fairly thin and put them in poaching liquid. Again, there are no hard and fast rules to the poaching liquid. Generally, I use a couple of cups of water, one cinnamon stick (or use ground cinnamon if that is what you have), some ground allspice and ground cloves and maybe some sherry if I have some kicking around. Many of the resources on the web talk about making sure that you weight the fruit so it stays under the liquid. I don’t do that but I do make sure to keep the liquid at a very gentle heat. Poaching is lower than a simmer. There is very little activity in the poaching liquid if you have it at the right temperature. I occasionally stir to make sure the fruit all gets poached. In 15 or 20 minutes, the fruit will be poached and will have picked up some of the flavour from your poaching liquid. I strain it and let it cool while I am finishing the onions.
I cover the pizza round with a nice layer of the spicy jam. Then I put sliced brie cheese over the pizza, then poached pears and carmelized onions. Once I have cooked the pizza, I finish it off with a sprinkle of chopped pecans and a good drizzle of honey. In my pizza oven, it only takes 3 – 5 minutes. One of our favourite local honey producers is Tegart Honey https://www.upper-ranch.ca/ but you can, of course, use any liquid honey you like.
Yes, you can make this in the oven or on your barbeque instead of a wood-fired pizza oven. Yes, it will still be super tasty. It obviously won’t have the smoky edge that you get from the wood fire but still worth making. Ideally, you would put the dough on a pizza stone if you were baking it in the oven — if you don’t have one, just toss it on a baking sheet and bake it at 400 degrees F for about 15 – 18 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the crust is browned. I have never made it on the barbeque so I can’t speak to heat and timing but try it out and see! Let me know how it worked out.
As with every recipe, you need to check on your food. My oven’s 400 degrees may not be your oven’s 400 degrees. As my instructor at the Culinary Institute said, “the recipe doesn’t know what is happening in your kitchen, that is what you are for!”
Wood fired Brie, Carmelized Onions and Poached Pear Pizza
This is a delicious, gooey, sweet and spicy pizza that is a crowd favourite.
- 1 Pizza Dough round 12 inch
- approx. 1/3 c flour for rolling out dough
- approx 1/4 c semolina flour or corn meal to prevent dough from sticking
- 250 ml Raspberry Pepper Jelly or Jam or 1 cup or 8 oz
- 8 - 12 oz Brie cheese sliced
- 2 - 3 pears poached
- 1/4 c onions carmelized
- 1/4 c pecans chopped
- 3 tbsp liquid honey
Lightly dust a large, clean, wooden cutting board with flour. Place your dough onto the flour and roll out with a rolling pin.
Next, dust your pizza peel with semolina flour or corn meal to prevent the pizza from sticking to the peel when you try to transfer the pizza into the pizza oven. If you are using a conventional oven, I would recommend using your pizza stone's instructions.
Place the pizza round onto the pizza peel and spread the jam across the dough evenly.
Arrange the brie across the jam so that when the cheese melts, you will have a layer of cheese on the dough.
Next, take the poached pears (recipe on website) linked in blog post above and put a layer of pear on the cheese.
Finally, put the carmelized onions on next and place in oven to bake until done. If using a pizza oven, slide the pizza from the peel to the base of the oven and using your metal peel to rotate the pizza every 30 seconds or so to prevent the side close to the fire from burning.
Once the cheese is melted and the crust has browned nicely, pull the pizza out and finish by sprinkling the chopped pecans on the pizza and drizzling the honey.
Let the pizza rest for a few minutes so that when you cut it, it doesn't drool all over the place. Trust me, it is worth waiting for!
The preparation time includes the time for making the dough from scratch. If you are working with a pre-made dough round, the time reduces to about an hour.