Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pizza Paradise & A Recipe Too

Tonight we are having pizza. Yes, I know sometimes that can be a cop-out in the realm of the old "What's For Dinner" game we play everyday. But when you make the pizza, it's not quite so much of a cheat.
Dan and I are pizza connoisseurs, which is just a polite way of saying that we eat the stuff way too much and have decided "Connoisseur" sounds a lot better than "Pizza Glutton". (Has more of a catchy ring to it, don't ya think?)
Anyway. We'll happily snack away on the local fare available to us, with Romeo's Pizza being an addictive favorite. But our all time, hands down, 'walk-over-someone-else's-face-if-you-have-to-in-order-to-get-it' places happen to be just across the Border in Canada. We say we're going up to see Niagara Falls, but, really it has more to do with the pizza. (Well, not really. But maybe they are both stellar draws).
We stumbled upon Antica Pizzeria one day years ago, in a fit of 'late-night-must-have-pizza-but-what-is-still-open?' rage. It was love at that first wood oven cooked, cheesy bite. Our favorite is the pizza margherita. Cheese. Sauce. More cheese. Simple, yummy joy.
Located just a few blocks away, Co Co's is also a wood burning oven pizzeria, only they specialize in a truly unique selection of gourmet pizzas. I can't remember a single name of any pizza on their menu, but I do remember our favorite and I'm even going to post my own version of it here.
Two amazing places. Scores of delicious, not-your-run-of-the-mill style pizzas between them.  If you ever find yourself visiting those majestic Falls, I highly recommend you take a moment to check out Canada's other, less advertised, wonders in these two pizza places. If you do, tell them there are two very loyal people in the U.S.A who sent ya.

Or try this recipe, if you don't want to take my word for it.

Co Co's Pizza

1 pizza crust.
(I happen to love Pizza Buddy dough, which you can get in the deli section of some stores. Seriously. The stuff is amazing. I used to make my own dough, but this tastes so much better and more like a pizzeria that I switched. Plus it's only .88 cents at Walmart, and they have a whole wheat version.)

1 cup roasted red peppers, cut up into chunks.
(I'm too lazy to actually roast my own, so I cheat and buy the jarred kind. It's not quite the same, but in my laziness, I have to accept that. If you choose to take the lazy route like me, make sure you drain the peppers very well or you'll have a wet pizza).

1/2 cup black olives, sliced.
(Olive haters may choose to omit this ingredient, but I say, "Keep the Olives!!")

1 cup cooked chicken, chopped.
(White meat is your best bet for this)

Mozzarella Cheese

Swiss Cheese
(Notice I'm not giving any amounts for the cheese. Use as much as it takes. Whatever it takes to cover that wonderful crust with ooey-gooey goodness and drape it in cheesy splendor. A good rule of thumb would be 2 cups of Mozzarella and 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the Swiss, for you number sticklers out there).

1/2 - 1 cup red sauce
(It could be spaghetti sauce, marinara, or bone fide pizza sauce. Whatever you choose. However much of it you want on there. Go for it. This is your moment: Create!)

2-3 TBS Fresh Rosemary, chopped.
(And this is it, folks. This is the piece de resistance for the entire pizza. Omit this and you might as well toss the whole thing on the floor and stomp on it. No matter how much you think you hate this herb, leave it on there. Let it have its moment to persuade you. It will. Oh, it will.)

Extras: Shredded Parm, Salt & Pepper

Oven method:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Situate your dough into your preferred greased pizza pan. Ladle and spread sauce. Top with cheese. Toss on the peppers, olives, chicken, and Rosemary. If you want to, finish this beauty off with a sprinkling of the Parm and some freshly ground sea salt & black pepper.
Slide it into the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and joyously tinged with brown. If the center is still a tad moist (that would be from the jarred peppers, oh lazy ones), put it under the broiler for a few minutes to dry it out. But watch it carefully: too much equals "Burn", which equals "Boo".
Cut and enjoy your own slice of Canadian bliss.

Grill Method:
As mentioned, these are done in wood ovens up there. And it's good; better than good, it's amazing. Now, if you happen to have yourself a true wood oven, I say, "Wow. That rocks." But if you don't, your grill will suffice quite well. There's a technique to it, so be patient. But once you get it, it's gonna be Pizza Night at your house a lot more. (If you choose this method, have your ingredients ready to go in dishes and at the grill).

Preheat your grill so that you have a cool side and a medium-high side. (The cool side will be for loading up your pizza). Hand toss your chosen dough and get it into some semblance of a circle. Unless you're a professional pizza tosser (which I am not), it will be more of a mutant circle, but shape truly doesn't matter. Honest.

Once shaped, lay it carefully onto the hot side of your grill. Now close the lid and give it about 4-5 minutes to cook. This will firm it up. Check it from time to time to make sure it's cooking okay and not burning. If it's still not quite done at the 5 minute mark, let it go for another minute or 2. A "Done" crust will be stiff and have light to medium grill marks on it.

Once that's achieved, lightly brush the non-cooked side with olive oil and flip the crust over onto the cool side of your grill. Give your cooked side a light brush with more olive oil, and then spread your sauce on it. Add your cheese and follow with the rest of the toppings.

Now slide the pizza over to the hot side of the grill and close the lid. You'll be looking at about 7 minutes of cook time, but again, check several times to make sure the bottom of the crust isn't getting black. You can adjust the heat if need be.

When cheese is melted, you are done. Carefully slide your pizza onto a pizza paddle or the backside of a cookie sheet. Slice and enjoy.
(The flavor added by the grill is amazing. It's the only way we eat pizza around here.)

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