Friday, June 10, 2011

The Joys of Pizza

I'll be the first to admit that I love pizza.  There are tons of ways to prepare it, and it takes a lot to make a truly bad pizza.  Sure, there are ways that aren't preferred, but short of burning it, or choosing your anti-crust, you could probably live with any pizza put in front of you. 

(What?  Anti-crust, you ask?  Oh you know, it's that crust that just turns you off when you're not in the mood for it.  Too deep, too thin, too crispy, too gooey...  Just not what you were expecting.  You get the point.)

Me, I can live with cheap pizza, frozen pizza, fancy pizza, grilled pizza, thick crust, hand tossed, etc., etc.  I have two all time favorites, both from Chicago: Turnabout Pizza in Lemont, and Connie's Pizza on Archer in Chicago.  However, since those are both 2,000 miles away, I find I'll eat just about any type of pizza, any night of the week, and it takes a lot for me not to enjoy it.  A lot.

In any case, when I find a new pizza recipe, I'm usually pretty psyched to try it out.  I was scrolling through Pampered Chef recipes last week, collecting about 20 that I wanted to try (for you, of course, for you).  One was the recipe for Barbecue Bacon Squares.  It took a second for me to recognize this as pizza, even with pizza dough in the recipe.  I think because I was focusing on the "squares" in the title that I didn't recognize this jem for all of its pizza goodness.  I had a few issues along the way, but here's the story...

I started with frying up the bacon.  I cooked it extra-extra crispy.  I figured this had to be the case since it was going to be put in sauce and baked.  I'm not a fan of soggy bacon (ever), and I thought that would be just the thing to throw off the yumminess of the pizza, so I just kept frying.  Then, I put it on some paper towel to cool and harden.  This made it easy-peasy to crumble, and it was outstanding.  Real talk.

Next came the crust.  There are a bunch of recipes for pizza crust, or you can just buy a box mix, or even a pre-made, ready to go crust.  I chose option #3.   Fresh and Easy has a pre-made dough (regular or whole wheat) that you sit out to rest, roll (or toss), and go. Thomas is the king of tossing a crust, so I promptly gave him that job.  I then pre-cooked the dough for about 3 to 5 minutes so it didn't become too soggy with the ingredients.

I had an issue with the rub and the sauce.  Okay, truth be told, two issues.  The first is that I don't own the rub.  The second was that I didn't think there was nearly enough sauce to make this enjoyable.  I made the sauce as suggested in the recipe, and then I added almost twice as much BBQ sauce to give it the rub's flavor and make up for the tiny amount of sauce made from the recipe's proportions.  It was still light on the sauce, but since I think this was originally supposed to be a smaller appetizer, as opposed to a baking sheet sized pizza, I'll forgive them for that.  I also added about a pound of pre-baked chicken (with fajita seasoning) to bulk up the dish's protein quotient, so I needed a little more juice for the swallow-ability quotient.  (Oh, you know what I mean.  No one likes a dry pizza.)

 Then, because we eyeball all things cheese related in this household, I topped it up with about half of a pre-shredded bag of mozzarella. I baked it all for the allotted time, then  threw it under the broiler for about three minutes to get that nicely browned top.  I love the slightly overdone cheese on a pizza.  It gives it that nice crispness that is making me drool again, just to think about it.

Speaking of a nice crispness, I loved having the water chestnuts on the pizza.  I used the whole can, and was pleasantly surprised on how well it complimented the bacon and chicken.  I suppose I could have just gone the extra step and made this more "Hawai'ian," and added pineapple, but it wasn't in the house, so it didn't even cross my mind.  I'd definitely make this dish again.  It was delicious, and it was easy: two huge thumbs up in my book.  There were no leftovers by the end of the evening, but there probably should have been.  Whatever, no regrets, it rocked!

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