Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chicken Caesar Pizza

If you’d like to make an authentic, slightly smoky, crisp-crusted pizza at home, you have a few options. You could build an authentic outdoor pizza oven yourself, if you’re extremely talented and astute enough to follow building codes. You could invest $2,000 to $5,000 – or more – to buy an off-the-rack model or have one professionally installed. Or, you could use your gas charcoal barbecue grill.

Consider branching out from the old standby hamburgers and hot dogs and try grilling pizza. Believe it or not, the dough will not fall through the cooking grate. As long as you put it on a preheated grill, oil the dough and quickly put the hood down on the grill, the yeast in the dough will rise and become this beautiful, fabulous pizza crust.

Chicken Caesar Pizza


1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 12 ounces) or 1 ½ cups shredded leftover chicken
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ uncooked grits or polenta, for rolling the dough
1 ball pizza dough (about 8 ounces), at room temperature
½ cup roasted garlic paste (recipe follows)
1 ¼ cups grated fontina cheese
1 heart of romaine, cut crosswise into ½ inch-wide ribbons
2 tablespoons Caesar salad dressing; homemade or purchased
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

If you’re not using leftover chicken, preheat the grill. Brush the chicken breast with 1 tablespoon of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Place chicken on the cooking grate directly over the heat and grill until no longer pink in the middle, 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside and when almost ready to use, cut into ¼-inch-thick strips.

Sprinkle a work surface with the grits or polenta. Roll out and shape the dough, brush with olive oil and then grill the first side of the crust. Flip the crust to reveal the grilled side.

Spread the entire surface with the garlic paste, then top with the chicken and sprinkle with the fontina.

Finish grilling the pizza.

Just before the pizza is done, toss the romaine with the dressing and 1 tablespoon of the Parmigiano in a medium bowl. Remove the pizza from the grill and immediately top with the dressed romaine. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon Parmigiano and season with salt and pepper. Slice and serve immediately.

For roasted garlic paste: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove the first layer of papery skin from 3 heads of garlic. Slice ¼ inch from the pointy top. Place each head on a sheet of aluminum foil, cut side up. Drizzle with olive oil and season with kosher salt. Wrap each head in the foil and roast until the cloves are golden brown and soft, about 1 hour. Remove from the heat and let cool. Remove the roasted garlic cloves from their skins (the most efficient way to do this is to squeeze the whole head from the bottom.) Using a fork, vigorously mix the garlic and 3 tablespoons olive oil together. Add a pinch of kosher salt. This will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for as long as 2 days. Makes about ½ cup, enough for 1 pizza.

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