This is my go-to bread dough recipe for the bread machine. No way am I enough of a baker to make a dough from scratch without a bread machine. I could never make something as good as this dough. It makes for the perfect po boy. The bread gets a nice crunchy, but thin, exterior. The insides are light, soft and airy. I’ve made this dough at least 30 times and every time it has come out great. Well, or it did after I got the hang of rolling it into a nice loaf shape. I also learned that cutting the slits isn’t just for making it pretty, the bread seems to keep a better shape. To get the slits just right you need to use a very, very sharp knife. You don’t want to manhandle the dough cutting it. You want the knife to go through it effortlessly.
3 cups (plus a little more, if needed) bread flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
For the glaze
1 egg white
1 teaspoon water
Place ingredients into your bread machine in the order listed.
Process on the dough settings. After 5-10 minutes check the consistency of the dough. It should be sticky but not stick to the sides. If it is too dry add water, but in 1/2 teaspoon increments. If it is too wet add more flour 1 teaspoon at at time.
When the dough cycle is completed remove the dough to a lightly floured surface.
Roll the dough out into a rectangle that is approximately 16" wide and 12" deep.
Roll up the dough along the long edge.
Pinch the seam and ends closed and place onto a lightly greased baking sheet, seam-side down.
Cover with a cheesecloth and place into a warm place to rise until doubled, about an hour.
After about 30 minutes of rising preheat your oven to 425 F.
Uncover the bread and, using a very sharp knife, make a few 1/2" deep slits along the top of the dough, about 2" apart.
Whisk together the glaze ingredients and brush over the top of the dough.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Reduce the temperature to 350 F and bake another 5-10 minutes or until golden brown.
Don’t let the fact that this French bread pizza rustica doesn’t have a sauce on it throw you off. Every bite is incredible. All of your favorite toppings, but with a little twist. Spinach. Yes, spinach. You can play around with the toppings, substituting whatever suits your fancy, but don’t leave out the spinach. I’ve found variations on this French bread pizza rustica online, and some have you cook the vegetables a bit before putting them onto the bread. I opted to skip that step. We found the slightly crunchy (they do cook a bit in the oven) vegetables to be perfect. If you do want to cook the vegetables, just add to the skillet after you cook the Italian sausage and saute for about 5 minutes.
We’ve been enjoying a somewhat mild winter here so far. We did have a few nights where it got a little cold, which means time to make comfort food. This simple stuffed French bread really packs a lot of great flavor in every bite, and it is definitely what I’d call comfort food. The meat filling is really quite incredibly yummy. It sort of reminds me of the flavors of a beef stroganoff. The French bread holds up well to the mixture. A lesser bread just isn’t going to do here, unless you want to serve it open-faced (which is actually a pretty good idea now that I think about it). I love the extra sharp cheddar melted on top of these stuffed French bread sandwiches, but you could certainly use any other good melting cheese. I think a nice smoky provolone would be perfect also, as would Swiss or mozzarella.
I needed a break from grilling burgers or hot dogs, so I threw together this really easy southwest grilled chicken French bread pizza. You can make the entire pizza on the grill, or just toss it in the oven. Pizzas like this one are a great way to use leftover chicken, too.
French bread pizzas like this one are also an excellent way to use up leftover vegetables. I had some sliced onion and green bell pepper on hand, so I threw them in. Fresh sliced jalapenos would also be great.
Toss the chicken, onion, pepper, chili powder and salt in a medium bowl until combined.
If cooking on the grill, preheat grill to high and add chicken mixture. Cook, stirring, until the chicken is done and the vegetables are tender. (A grill basked will help keep you from losing any veggies between the grates.)
If cooking indoors, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the chicken mixture. Cook, stirring, until the chicken is done and the vegetables are tender.
Place the bread on the grill over indirect heat for a few minutes until it starts to get crispy. If using the oven, place the bread under the broiler for a minute or two until crispy. Remove.
Spread sauce over both cut sides of the bread.
Add cooked chicken mixture.
Top with cheese.
Place back on the grill over indirect heat until the cheese is melted and the bread is crispy.
Or, place on a baking sheet under the oven broiler until the cheese is melted and the bread is crispy.
I’ve been a subscriber of Chile Pepper magazine for quite some time now. Every issue has not only great recipes, but also articles on peppers, products and cuisines. Even if you aren’t a fan of heat or spice, Chile Pepper is well worth the subscription price.A recent issue of Chile Pepper focused on Cajun and Creole foods, my favorites, which is where this great shrimp-stuffed bread recipe came from (though the original used crawfish tails).