I think we need a bigger oven.
Because no matter how much of this stuff I make it never is enough.
This stuff is called farinata, a baked good made of chickpea flour. Depending on who is baking it, farinata could resemble a flatbread (dry and crisp) or a focaccia (puffed out and moist) or even a pancake (more dense).
Unless you travel to places such as Italy or France, it is unlikely you have come across farinata. And depending on where you travel, it goes by different names. If you are in Sicily, for instance, and you happen upon a street vendor in Palermo selling slices of panelle from his cart, you have found yourself a fritter made of chickpeas. In Tuscany, look for cecina, and in France, socca.
It is in Italy's Liguria region where farinata is enjoyed. And, believe me, it is enjoyed quite a lot. The first time I tasted farinata ("made of flour" is basically all it means) was in Genoa, on the Ligurian Sea, credited as the place where the bread first appeared. Strolling by myself one afternoon (killing time while a certain companion was having a lie down, no doubt) I noticed a line of people outside a bakeshop and joined them without even knowing what I was waiting for. Fifteen minutes later and I was at the counter, feeling brilliant for having secured a place in line.
The Ligurians use two ingredients in their chickpea flatbread that you will not much find elsewhere: onion and rosemary. They add them into the batter, but I've come up with a slightly different method: I put a layer of onion in the pan, then pour in the batter and sprinkle the rosemary on top. This may not sound like such a big deal, but if you did a side-by-side comparison you'd see that there is a difference, largely because the sizzling-onion layer at the bottom introduces a somewhat sharper flavor.
The traditional method of making farinata is in a wood-burning oven. As luck would have it, I happen to have one of those on the brick patio out back.
The full recipe is below, but here's the entry into the Inferno. I use a 14-inch, well-seasoned black iron pan, which does a swell job with this dish.
After about ten minutes, at 650 F or so, this one was done.
Slice it up like a pizza and you're ready to roll.
Perhaps you see now why I might require a larger oven?
2 cups chickpea flour (garbanzos and chickpeas are the same)
2 tsp salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cups lukewarm water
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, sliced thin
Plenty of olive oil for the pan
Sift the flour and add in the salt, pepper and water
Whisk until smooth, then add the 4 tablespoons of olive oil (consistency should be thin, like heavy cream or half and half, no thicker; when in doubt err on the thinner side)
Cover and set aside (I let it sit a few hours at room temperature, but it's not necessary)
Preheat oven at 500 F (higher if you can; I do it at 600 or better in the wood oven), then preheat the pan long enough for it to come up to oven temperature
When the pan is hot pour in plenty of olive oil (enough to coat the bottom entirely and then some) and the onion and return to the oven
After a minute or so pour in the batter and sprinkle rosemary on top, then return to the oven
Cook until completely firm, then let cool a couple minutes before slicing