Char Siu Pizza

Last week I had a real hankering do get some pho for lunch. There is this great place (finally) near where we live called Pho King. They have some of the best pho in town, in my opinion, and as I was pulling into the plaza, I noticed a new shop called Lucky’s Chinese Bakery. I had to stop in, and boy was I glad I did. This place was full on busy with Chinese workers slinging all sorts of stuffed buns. There was whole roasted duck sitting in front of me, along with char siu and crispy roasted pork. I thought I was in heaven for a second, but then I snapped out of it and began ordering. I ordered both porks, and a few buns, then went home to sample everything. EVERYTHING was really, really good.

I had plenty of char siu, a style of sweet barbecue pork that is chopped up, leftover, and as I was making pizzas on my Kettle Pizza, I decided to come up with a char siu pizza. It was great.

Char Siu Pizza Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 batch of your favorite pizza dough, rolled or tossed into 12″ round
  • 1/2 cup of tomato sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Chinese char siu, sliced and cooked
  • 1/2 whole jalapeno pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 tbsp light cornmeal

Pretty basic stuff, but the great thing, at least in my opinion, is that you get that sweetness from the char siu that is balanced by that subtle heat from the jalapenos. A perfect marriage in my opinion.

How to make a char siu pizza

Heat your oven to the highest temperature, with a pizza stone. In my case, I use the Kettle Pizza, which I think I have mastered pizzas now, and again get it up to the highest temperature. I find that around 620 degrees, in that area is a great temperature to get a pizza cooked in a matter of minutes.

While your stone is heating up, make the pizza.

Lightly dust a pizza peel with the cornmeal. Shape your dough and lay it onto the peel.

Lightly toss on the sauce, cheese, onions, jalapenos, and sliced char siu.

Slide the pizza off of the peel onto the hot stone, and cook for a couple of minutes. Once the dough begins to cook, in my case pretty quickly, take some tongs and turn it 45 degrees to prevent any hot spots.

Once cooked to your liking, remove it from the stone, and slice and serve.

I love experimenting with new pizza ingredients, and this one was no exception. It was perfectly balanced in flavor and I will make it again if I have any leftover char siu. Hope you enjoy!

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Grilled Flatbreads

My in-laws wedding anniversary this past weekend. 46 years. Yep, 46. I think (such a guy not knowing) we have only been married for 14, but 46? Great stuff to say the least. As my wife wanted to plan to take them out for dinner, I made the suggestion to have them over to our house and cook them a comforting meal. I had no idea what I was going to make, but then quickly took into account what I thought they might like. I decided on a couple of appetizers, of which one was a grilled flatbreads, an array of cheese, and a couple of roasted chickens with wild rice and roasted asparagus. The meal turned out great, but one thing I really loved (besides the cheese, of course) was the grilled flatbreads.

How to make Grilled Flatbreads

One thing I love about making these flatbreads, much like making pizza, is that you can go in any direction in terms of cheeses, spices, and sauces. I went with simple flatbreads, using simple ingredients.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • plastic wrap
  • 2 cups fresh mozzarella balls
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dry parsley flakes
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill
  • salt and pepper to taste

To a mixing bowl, or KitchenAid, add the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. With your dough attachment, give it a good mix. Use a wooden spoon towards the end to finalize your mix.

On a low mixing speed, slowly add in the water, and mix until the dough begins to form. Once it is loosely formed, turn off the mixer, and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

After ten minutes, increase the speed to medium, and mix for about 5 minutes. Add a tablespoon of water at a time if the dough seems too dry. Be careful not to add too much water.

Once the dough is kneaded using your mixer, drizzle in the olive oil, and cover with plastic wrap. Set in a room area of your kitchen, and let it rise until it has doubled, if not more, in size.

How to make grilled flatbread

Once the dough has risen, punch it down, and place on a lightly floured board or counter.

Divide the dough into 4 pieces, and gently roll each one into a ball. Let rest for about 20 minutes.

Next, take a ball, lightly flour, and stretch, or roll with a baking pin into a 1/4 to 1/2 inch round, almost like a pizza. It does not have to be perfect.

Heat your grill. If you are using coals or gas, heat only one side. You will cook the pizza over indirect heat. Me? I used my KettlePizza (I love it).

Once heated, finish your flatbreads.

Add the oil and parsley together and give a good mix.

Brush each flatbread with the oil mixture. Season with salt and pepper, then add some mozzarella balls, sliced tomatoes, and fresh dill. Arrange to your liking.

Slide a flatbread onto your grill, and cook, moving around when the dough begins to cook on the bottom.

Cover, and cook until the flatbreads are cooked, about 5-7 minutes per flatbread. Repeat with the remaining flatbreads.

Not only are these a perfect appetizer, but they are also a really great side dish. The dill and lightly charred underside of these really make these flatbreads shine. So happy anniversary in-laws. May you have many years ahead!

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St. Louis Style Pizza

I’ve always been a big fan of making pizza for my family. If I could have it my way, I would probably eat pizza on a daily basis. I love it that much. The great thing about pizza is you can make it your own. Everything from the dough to the sauce to the toppings. That’s what I truly love about it. I’ve been trying to master my artisanal dough for some time now, and I think I am getting really close, but recently I found out about a pizza dough that was no mess, no fuss, and it’s coined as St. Louis style pizza. I was intrigued, and pleasantly surprised.

This dough has a few simple ingredients; flour, salt, water, oil. No yeast. I love blooming yeast, but no yeast, no rise? I’m in. This time.

St. Louis Style Pizza Recipe

Let’s get started. By the way, my wife really liked this crust. That’s always a good sign, and well, so did I.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of unbleached, self-rising flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Approximately 3/4 cups of water
  • parchment paper
  • Pam cooking spray
  • 1 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 slices of baby swiss cheese
  • 1 cup smoked provolone cheese, shredded
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • Your favorite pizza sauce
  • Your favorite pizza toppings
  • Pizza sheet

Start by making your dough. To a mixing bowl, add the flour, water, salt and mix until you have a somewhat slightly smooth dough, nothing too tough. Add a bit more water at a time until you get a somewhat smooth consistency.

Let the dough rest in the bowl, for about 20 minutes or so.

During this time, get your prep work done. Get your pizza ingredients ready, and more importantly, if you cannot find shredded cheeses, like I could not (especially in Wisconsin!), then you will need to add the cheeses to a food process, and pulse down until all is shredded.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

Divide your dough into 2 balls.

Get 2 sheets of parchment paper out, large enough to roll out the dough into about 1/4 inch thin. The thinner the better.

Spray each sheet of parchment paper with the PAM cooking spray, or lightly lube with oil.

Lay a ball of dough down, then top with the other sheet of parchment paper, lube side facing down, and lightly roll the ball with a rolling pin. Gently roll into a circular shape, going thin.

st-louis-style-pizza-ingredientsSpray the pizza sheet with the cooking spray as well, enough to cover the dough.

Place the thinly, rolled out dough onto the cooking sheet, then slather on the pizza sauce. Shower the sauce with the Italian seasoning, cover with the cheese, and your favorite toppings. Add a bit more cheese to hold things together, then place into the oven and cook for about 18-20 minutes or until the crust is a nice, golden brown and the cheese is melted.

The goal here, with St. Louis style pizza, is to cut into squares. That’s St. Louis style, along with that cheese blend, and that pizza dough. Keep that in mind.

Once cut, dig in.

The result is pretty darn awesome. Super crispy, not heavy, and in my book, really comforting and quick. I’ve done tortilla pizzas in the past, but this throw together dough probably has me hooked. My wife was hooked as well, and in my book, that is always an awesome thing.

 

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Bacon and Brussel Sprouts Pizza

It’s nearing that time of year when brussel sprouts are in season and everyone brings them as a side dish to a Thanksgiving meal. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy brussel sprouts, especially when they are paired with bacon. So recently there was a plethora of brussel sprouts at the grocery store and I decided to pick up a handful. I had no idea what I was going to do with them, with the exception of sauteing them, or roasting them in the oven and offering them up to my wife and kids, and then I thought, well, let’s make a pizza!

Bacon and Brussel Sprout Pizza

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices of bacon, chopped,  cooked until just slightly crisp
  • 7 brussel sprouts, sliced in half
  • 1 batch of your favorite pizza dough
  • 1 cup of your favorite pizza sauce
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp reserved bacon grease

Start by heating a large cast iron skillet on medium heat. Add the chopped bacon and cook just until the bacon is just slightly crisp as we will finish cooking the bacon on the pizza in the oven. Pour the bacon grease into a bowl and set it to the side.

Wipe out the skillet with some paper towel being careful not to burn yourself.

Return the skillet to the stove and place it back on medium heat. Spoon a couple of tablespoons of the reserved bacon grease into the skillet, and then add the brussel sprouts. Season with a bit of salt, and cook on medium heat just until slightly tender.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

How to make a bacon and brussel sprouts pizza

Remove the brussel sprouts and wipe out the skillet once more time.

Drizzle in more of the bacon grease into the skillet. Take your pizza dough and gently stretch it into the skillet. Spread the pizza sauce onto the dough, season with the cracked black pepper, salt, and Italian seasoning. Top with the mozzarella cheese, lay the brussel sprouts on top, and shower with the bacon. Lay the red onion on top as well.

Place the skillet in preheated oven, and cook for about 20 minutes or until the top is nice and melted.

Using a spatula, lift the pizza out of the skillet, and slice and serve.

The flavor combination is awesome. It’s everything you expect with the bacon and brussel sprouts but in pizza form. The red onion and the tomato sauce really adds that perfect punch to the pizza as well, and if you have never made pizza in a cast iron skillet before, well, I highly recommend it. Hope you enjoy!

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