To learn more about this recipe, read the related story, "TT Plated: Leeks," in our National edition.
Focaccia with Braised Leeks, Goat Cheese and Pancetta
Recipe adapted from Suzanne Goin, A.O.C., Los Angeles
Yield: Two 10-inch focaccias
Cook Time: 1 hour 25 minutes (plus 4 hours for the dough to rise)
1 tablespoon fresh cake yeast (loosely packed; or 2 teaspoons active dry yeast--see recipe note below)
1 cup tepid water, plus extra if needed
3 cups bread flour, plus extra for rolling
½ cup pastry flour
1½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing the bowl
1 teaspoon barley malt syrup (or 1½ teaspoons molasses)
¾ teaspoon sea salt
Nine ⅛-inch-thick slices pancetta
½ pound goat's-milk cheese (chèvre, preferably Laura Chenel brand)
6 tablespoons heavy cream
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
3 large leeks
2¾ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
½ teaspoon plus a pinch freshly ground black pepper, divided
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 large shallots, halved and thinly sliced
1½ teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
¼ cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
1. Make the focaccia dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the yeast and tepid water and whisk until the yeast is dissolved. Add the bread flour, pastry flour, olive oil, barley malt syrup and sea salt. Mix the ingredients until they come together into a rough, shaggy dough, about 30 seconds. Swap the paddle for the dough hook attachment and continue to mix on low speed until the dough comes together into a rough yet slack ball, about 7 minutes (if the dough seems dry, add up to 4 tablespoons of water during the mixing). Increase the speed to medium-low and continue to mix until the dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl, about 2 minutes. Grease a large bowl with some olive oil. Remove the dough from the mixer bowl and shape into a round, then place it in the oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
2. Remove the plastic wrap and punch down the dough. Turn it out onto a cutting board and use a bench knife or chef's knife to divide it into 2 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, set onto a rimmed baking sheet and cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel. Let the dough rise at room temperature until it doubles, about 2 hours.
3. Cook the pancetta: Preheat the oven to 350°. Set the pancetta slices on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Cover the pancetta with another piece of parchment paper and set another rimmed baking sheet on top so the pancetta is sandwiched between the two baking sheets. Bake until the pancetta is golden and cooked, about 30 minutes.
4. While the pancetta cooks, prepare the leeks: Peel away any browned outer layer of the leeks, leaving the root end intact. On a bias, slice off all but 2 inches of the green tops, then slice the leek in half lengthwise. Place the leeks in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Let them soak for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove them, allowing any dirt or grit to fall to the bottom of the bowl. Repeat until the leeks are clean, replacing the dirty water with fresh water as needed. Transfer the leeks, cut side down, to a kitchen-towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Turn the leeks over and sprinkle them with 2 teaspoons of the salt and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper.
5. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add ¼ cup of the olive oil, heat for 1 minute, then add the leeks, cut side down (take care not to overcrowd the skillet; you may need to cook the leeks in 2 batches). Cook the leeks until they are golden-brown on one side, 4 to 5 minutes. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and use tongs to turn the leeks over and brown the other side, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer the leeks to a gratin dish, cut side up.
6. Return the skillet to medium-high heat. Add the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil, the shallots, thyme, the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt and remaining pinch of pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the shallots start to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the white wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Pour the shallot-broth mixture over the leeks (the liquid shouldn't completely cover the leeks). When the pancetta is out of the oven, increase the oven temperature to 400°. Place the baking dish in the oven and cook until a paring knife slides easily into the center of a leek, 10 to 15 minutes.
7. Par-bake the focaccia: Adjust the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Increase the oven temperature to 450°. On a lightly floured surface, roll a piece of focaccia dough to a 10-inch circle. Set the dough on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the other dough round and set on a second parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Set one baking sheet on the upper rack and one on the lower rack and bake until set and golden, 10 to 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and vice versa midway through baking. Remove the par-baked focaccia rounds from the oven.
8. While the focaccia par-bakes, make the creamy chèvre: To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the goat's-milk cheese, heavy cream, salt and pepper. Mix together on medium-low speed until creamy and spreadable.
9. Dollop the top of each piece of focaccia with half of the creamy chèvre. Add 3 pieces of braised leeks to each focaccia, then top each focaccia with the crisped pancetta. Brush 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the edges of each crust and return 1 baking sheet to the oven until both the crust and the pancetta are crispy and golden-brown, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Repeat with the other focaccia. Sprinkle each focaccia with the chopped parsley, slice into wedges and serve.
If using active dry yeast instead of fresh yeast, add 2 teaspoons of the active dry yeast to ½ cup of warm water in a small bowl. Add ½ teaspoon of sugar, whisk, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 5 minutes. Once the surface of the water looks cloudy and the yeast blooms, add the mixture to a mixing bowl with the remaining 2½ cups of water and the other dough ingredients. Continue to make the bread as instructed, adding up to ¼ cup of water to the dough if needed.