With Thanksgiving less than two weeks away, lately I’ve been dreaming of crispy turkey skin, creamed greens, and casserole dishes heaped with buttery mashed potatoes. No, really: While I fed my son his bottle at 3am a few nights ago, I closed my eyes and immediately envisioned a pat of butter slowly melting on a fluffy, hot mountain of mashed potatoes. It was like my brain, sensing sleep-deprived nerves, switched off regular programming and conjured up the first “emergency: instant comfort” image it could find.
But as calming as that dream (fantasy?) may have been in the moment, I knew imaginary comfort food just wouldn’t cut it this week, as I found myself drowning in converging deadlines, minimal childcare, pediatrician appointments, and good old-fashioned, everything-that-can-go-wrong-will-go-wrong bad luck. So I brought in the big guns for pizza night: bacon, heavy cream, and dark winter greens. A fortifying, comforting, and rejuvenating trifecta. A creamy bacon pizza to chase away the darkest of doldrums.
Full disclosure: I only allowed myself one delicious (maybe reckless?) bite of this pizza before I was forced to dump it into the trash can. As though to prove that this was the epitome of a no good, very bad week, just after I finished topping the pizza, I knocked one of my favorite salad bowls off the counter. The bowl shattered into an impressive number of ceramic shards, and somehow—divine intervention? the worst luck ever?—a few of them ricocheted upwards and onto the pizza. Tears may have been shed when I noticed one shiny white shard glinting under the oven light as the pizza finished baking.
Lesson 1. Keep breakable items away from the counter’s edge . . . especially when you’re sleep deprived in the midst of a particularly stressful week. (My mother is definitely wagging her finger at me for this one.)
Lesson 2. Pizza dough recipes make two balls for a reason. Always have a back-up plan.
Lesson 3. Bacon pizza is definitely worth crying over.
- 1 bunch collard greens, stems removed and discarded, leaves chopped
- ½ pound bacon, chopped
- 1 large shallot, sliced
- 1 (14 to 16-ounce) ball Basic or Slow-Rise Pizza Dough (or pre-made pizza dough)
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- Place your pizza stone or steel (if using) on an oven rack in the middle of your oven. If you plan to cook your pizza on a baking sheet, just place a rack in the middle of the oven (you do not need to preheat the baking sheet). Preheat the oven to 500°F (or the highest temperature your oven will allow, if using a pizza stone/steel) and let it heat up for at least 30 minutes while you make the dough or prep the toppings.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. Blanch the collard greens in the boiling water for 4 minutes, then immediately drain and shock them in the ice water. Drain well and squeeze out any excess water with your hands.
- Set a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and sauté until it’s cooked through and just beginning to brown at the edges. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Add the shallot to the skillet and cook for a minute or two, until it’s soft and just beginning to brown. Remove from the heat and transfer the shallot to another paper towel–lined plate. Do not pour out the bacon fat.
- Place the dough on a clean work surface and, using your hands, gently stretch it into a 12-inch circle or square, making sure that it retains an even thickness throughout. Alternatively, use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 12-inch circle or square.
- If you’re using a pizza stone or steel: Dust a pizza peel or the back of a baking sheet lightly with flour or cornmeal. Place the dough disk on the prepared peel.
- If you’re using a baking sheet: Spray the baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the dough disk on the prepared baking sheet.
- Brush the dough lightly with bacon grease, making sure to get all the way to the edges. Scatter the collard greens, bacon, and shallots evenly on top. Season with the paprika and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with the cheese and drizzle the cream evenly over top.
- If you’re using a pizza stone or steel, 10 minutes before you are ready to cook the pizza, increase the oven heat to broil. Slide the pizza from the peel (or inverted baking sheet) to the hot stone or steel using quick shimmying movements. Broil the pizza for 6 to 8 minutes until the crust is golden and the cheese begins to brown in spots. Using the peel or inverted baking sheet, transfer the cooked pizza to a cutting board. If you are making more than one pizza, allow the pizza stone or steel to reheat under the broiler for 5 minutes before you cook the next one.
- If you’re using a baking sheet, do not increase the oven to broil. Place the baking sheet on the rack in the middle of the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, until the crust is golden and the cheese begins to brown in spots.
- Remove the pizza from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.