An Italian restaurant that is not too far from my neighborhood makes a pizza that they call The GCOP. This pizza may have a funny name, but it has a lot of fans. The GCOP stands for goat cheese, caramelized onions and pancetta. I’ve never been sure whether the “c” in the name comes from the cheese or the caramelized onions, but one thing I am sure of is that this is a fantastic combination of flavors for a pizza to have.
Naturally, I wanted to give this pizza a try in my own kitchen so that I could make it any time I was in the mood for a slice – or any time that I had all of the ingredients available and ready to go! I started with my favorite pizza crust recipe. The recipe uses a technique that was developed by America’s Test Kitchen. It produces a light crust with just the right combination of chewy interior and crisp exterior in a very short period of time – and it is all done in a food processor. I definitely recommend this crust, but you can use these toppings with another dough recipe if you have a favorite.
Pancetta is frequently known as Italian bacon. It is cured with salt and seasoned with pepper and other spices, but it is not smoked like American bacon is. Pancetta is typically sold in sausage-like logs, and it can be cut thick or thin, in rounds or in strips, depending on what you want to do with it. In this case, I cooked some small cubes of pancetta in a skillet with a little bit of olive oil until they were crispy and removed them to a paper towel to dry. Then, I added the my onions (and some butter, but you don’t need to add extra) to the fat left in the pan and caramelized them over a medium heat. I put a very small amount of marinara sauce on my dough, topped it generously with pancetta and onions, and then sprinkled on some goat cheese and a little shredded mozzarella. It isn’t exactly like what I had in the restaurant, but it was a great way to top a pizza. The salty cheese melds well with the slightly salty, porky pancetta and the sweet onions, and the tomato sauce adds some extra sweetness and a nice backdrop that brings everything together.
The amounts given below are approximate, as you can add as much or as little of these elements to your pizzas as you wish. They can all be easily doubled, too, if you’re doing a big batch. Feel free to add some red pepper flakes for heat or omit the mozzarella if you want more goat cheese, too.
Goat Cheese, Caramelized Onion and Pancetta Pizza
These amounts are approximate. Use as much or as little as a topping as you like, and experiment by adding sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts or other elements to your own rendition of the pizza!
Enough dough for two 10-12-inch pizzas (recipe here)
4-6 oz pancetta
1 large onion, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
6-8 oz goat cheese, crumbled or coarsely chopped
4-oz shredded mozzarella cheese (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup marinara sauce
Preheat the oven to 500F – with your baking stone on the oven rack, if you have one.
Cut pancetta into small cubes. Fry pancetta in a skillet coated with a little bit of olive oil or vegetable oil over medium-high heat until pancetta is crispy, about 5-10 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching
Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the crispy pancetta and place on a paper-towel lined plate to drain.
Add onions to the skillet (and 1 tbsp butter, if desired) and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are golden brown and very tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
Take enough dough for one pizza and place on a lightly floured surface. Flatten the dough into an 8-inch disk, then stretch the edges gently until the dough is 10-12-inches in diameter, rotating the dough by quarter turns as you work. You can also gently stretch the dough by placing it on the backs of your hands, letting the weight of the dough stretch it out.
Transfer pizza dough to a pizza peel or a lightly floured baking sheet before topping (a pizza stone will get you the best results, but this can be baked directly on a baking sheet). Spread about 1/4 cup of marinara sauce very thinly over the crust. Top with half of the pancetta, half of the onions and half of the coarsely crumbled goat cheese. Sprinkle half of the shredded mozzarella over the pizza.
Slide pizza into preheated oven and bake for 8-12 minutes, until crust is golden and cheese has melted.
Serve pizza immediately. Repeat steps with remaining piece of dough.
Makes 2 pizzas; Serves 4-8.