Hot mozzarella focaccia
Time: about 45 minutes
Servings: 2 for a hearty lunch
- 200g / 7 oz mozzarella cheese
- 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- a handful of basil leaves
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns, roughly crushed
- 4 spring onions
- a thin, round focaccia
- 4 slices of Parma ham (or San Daniele or coppa), thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan
- ½ large tomato, thinly sliced (optional)
- Cut the mozzarella into thin slices and toss with the olive oil, basil leaves (torn up) and peppercorns. Leave to soak for at least half an hour.
- Just before the soaking time is up, put your cast iron ridged grill pan on to heat, and grill the spring onions until they are limp and slightly blackened.
- Halve the focaccia horizontally, hold the cheese in place in its dish and pour the marinating oil and milky juice over the cut sides of the bread. Cover the bottom half with the ham, then the mozzarella, then the grilled onions (and tomatoes if you’re using them) and top with the grated Parmesan.
- Put the lid on and place it carefully on your ridged griddle. Cook it until the bread is attractively striped and the cheese has started to melt.
- If your foccacia is too thick for the cheese to melt before the bread has burnt, put the bottom half of the sandwich under the grill (broiler) for five minutes or so first, to melt the cheese, before replacing the lid and applying the stripes with the stove-top pan. As Nigel Slater says, the idea is to get the outside toasted and the cheese oozing. You could also bake it in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
- Cut it into wedges and eat with the cheese running down your chin.
Another Nigel Slater (“Only the generous can make a sandwich worth eating”) classic, from Real Food. I’ve altered the recipe very slightly – he uses more cheese and more olive oil, but I found the cheese was piled so high there was no way I could get it all to melt. So I reduced the quantities and, notwithstanding the above quotation, the result is still delicious.