A Pizza Worth (or worthy of) the Hike

The crushing sound and terrifying power of a waterfall flowing with the full force of the spring melt quickly reminds one that the world is indeed neither small nor digital. Our world can feel very full and cloistered; people, cars, little electronic signals reminding you to CHECK YOUR MESSAGES!!! Not but a few days walk from a trailhead, the world feels wide open, and the simple act of the sun melting snow has created something more powerful than all that brain power I put towards… whatever it is I do all day.

The top of Rancheria Falls, Hetch Hetchy

Suddenly, I can’t recall why I spend so many hours doing math with a computer, or obsessively sweeping my floors. Nor do I pine for my All Clad pots or Global chef’s knife while digging into simple food cooked with simple tools over a smokey fire.

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir

Just after returning to civilization, showers, and refrigerated food is not the time for fancy souffles, nor is a simple salad appropriate after several days hiking in the woods. Pizza should refuel these tummies. A pizza with bacon and arugula feels both hearty and nutritious, and don’t you want some fresh green stuff after so many dehydrated fruits?

Or are we calling pizzas flatbreads these days? Whatever you like.

Arugula and Turkey-Bacon Pizza

Pizza dough, enough for a 12″ pizza
2-3 cups arugula
3 slices of wide turkey bacon or 4 slices of regular bacon
One sweet onion
1/4 cup pecans
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp red chili powder
scant 1/4 cup raisins
cornmeal

We make our pizza dough, but it is quite easy to find pre-made, uncooked dough in many markets.

Preheat the oven to 450 deg F with a pizza stone inside (if you don’t have a pizza stone, you can cook the pizza on a cookie sheet, but don’t pre-warm the sheet). Slice the onion, and cook with a few tbs of olive oil in a pan until caramelized, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, roll out the pizza dough on a well-floured cutting board, and sprinkle cornmeal underneath rolled dough so that it will easily slide off the board onto your cooking surface. Remove the onions from the pan, and cook the bacon slices until browned on both sides, but don’t cook to a crisp, because they still need to spend a few minutes in the oven on the pizza. If using regular bacon, remove slices to a paper towel to absorb excess fat; this isn’t necessary if using turkey bacon. Once it’s cool enough, slice bacon into ~ 1 inch pieces.

Wilt the arugula in the pan used to cook the bacon and onions, which will flavor the lettuce nicely. If you used regular bacon, you may want to first remove some of the excess fat.

Candy the pecans by combining in a dry, thick-bottomed skillet with the sugar and chili. You can add a tsp or two of water to help the sugar caramelize without burning.

Top the pizza dough with the onions, bacon, pecans and raisins, but omit the arugula for now. Slide onto the baking stone and cook for about 7 minutes, until the crust begins to brown. Add the arugula to the pizza, and cook for another two minutes or until the crust is nice and crispy.

Meant to be eaten while sitting on the couch, maybe with a bitter beer, while watching trashy TV. You are back in civilization, after all!

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