I got home from work one recent Friday afternoon only to remember that we had a small group of church friends coming over later that evening and I needed to whip up something fast, easy, and delicious. Luckily I was just flipping through a Bon Appétit magazine the day before and a recipe for grilled flatbread caught my eye. This is an adaptation of that recipe, and oh man is it freaking good. I’ve been making it like a mad man since then (Asheley can surely attest to that) for everyone and anyone. It’s the perfect fall/winter comfort food, and a spectacular choice for easy entertaining.
I grabbed some rosemary, sage, and thyme from my backyard garden. Luckily, these hearty herbs were still going strong in the chilly fall weather here in NY! Make sure to use fresh herbs. You don’t need much, just enough to make about 1 tablespoon chopped of each (except only 1 teaspoon of rosemary).
And then finely mince those up…
Peel two Granny Smith apples. I’m not a fan for straight up eating Granny Smith apples (honeycrisp is my fav), but their tart, slightly sweet flavor makes them perfect for cooking.
And then dice those…
I’ve been slightly obsessed with leeks lately. They are so ridiculously good! If you can’t find leeks, feel free to substitute a large red onion, chopped. I certainly have in a pinch and it works very well.
Another shot of the leeks. Just because.
Remove the outer dark leaves and trim the bottoms of two leeks. Give them a good rinsing to remove any dirt or grit hiding out. Cut horizontally through the leeks, creating little thin rings.
Time to create the flatbread topping: Cut up about 8 slices of bacon into bite-size pieces. In a large skillet, cook up that bacon over medium-low heat. Remove the bacon from the skillet with a slotted spoon and place on some paper towels.
Keep that liquid gold (a.k.a bacon fat) in the pan and add in the apples and leeks. Toss in the finely minced herbs and season with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook for about 7 minutes over medium heat, until the apples are softened and begin to slightly caramelize.
Add back in the bacon and cook for one more minute.
That’s delicious in a pan right there…
Meanwhile, make the Mornay sauce (which, as I found out, is a fancy way of saying cheese sauce): In a small saucepan over low heat, completely melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add in 2 tablespoons of flour and stir frequently until it turns a golden nutty brown, about 5 minutes. This is called a roux.
Add in 1 cup of whole milk, stirring to fully incorporate the milk into the roux until all lumps are gone. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the milk has thickened, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup of shredded gruyere cheese and 1/2 cup of shredded white cheddar cheese until fully melted. Add in 1 1/2 tablespoons of sour cream. Season with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Sprinkle a little bit of nutmeg in the mixture as well.
For the pizza dough, you could very well make your own. I sometimes do, using Jim Lahey’s no-knead pizza dough recipe. But honestly, I usually don’t think that far ahead.
The best secret for delicious pizza dough the instant you need it is to simply go to your favorite local pizzeria and buy it. You already know you like their dough because, well, it’s your favorite local pizza place. They all sell their pizza dough upon request, and normally it only costs about $2 or $3.
Make sure the pizza dough is at room temperature. Here’s an easy way to make sure your dough is good to go: If you lightly press the dough with your finger tips, it should leave indentation marks.
Cut the dough in half.
Roll each half out either by gently stretching it with your hands and fingers or with a rolling pin. You can certainly aim at try to get it in a circular-ish figure. Mine always come out oblong, but I’m cool with that. It’s “rustic”!
I like to grill the dough. It’s super quick and easy, and honestly, kind of impressive for interested onlookers. Turn on your grill to medium-high and lightly oil the grates. I oil them by putting a little canola oil on a paper towel and quickly going over the grill grates.
I know, I know… everyone always asks me: Doesn’t the dough stick to the grill?! It’s really magical, but it absolutely doesn’t! Grill the flatbread for about 1-2 minutes per side, flipping with a pair of tongs. Make sure you don’t walk away from the grill while cooking the flatbread… you don’t want it to burn!
If you don’t want to grill the dough, you can most certainly bake the flatbread in a preheated 450°F oven on a baking sheet. You will know it is done when it starts to turn a little golden brown and feels a bit crispy.
When the dough is cooked, top the flatbread with the Mornay cheese sauce and the apple, leek, and bacon mixture.
Cut into wedges with a pizza wheel and serve hot!