(I'm no longer posting on this blog - enjoy the recipe but if you want to see what I'm up to, visit me here.)
The delicious Giorgio's that J and I frequent was once a small mom and pop style pizza shop down the street from it's current location. The little pizza shop was owned by this adorable European couple who always treated us like we were old friends. It was endearing and we looked forward to seeing big smiles on their faces whenever we stopped in. But the real reason we went back time and time again was for the pizza. In particular, a chicken a broccoli pizza with a lemon peppercorn sauce. The new Giorgio's opened about 3 years ago and they don't do the same style or flavors that they used to (but still their menu is delicious) so like everything else I eat that I like, I had to replicate it!
This pizza recipe has more steps than most but it's actually pretty easy. And no, you don't actually have to cook your broccoli and onion if you end up using raw dough. I'm dough challenged, as we've discussed in an earlier blog entry, so even though I use raw dough occasionally, I'm not smooth enough to use it for an entry here. Since the precooked shells only need to cook long enough to warm the ingredients and melt the cheese, I go through some of these steps because they add a texture (blanched broccoli) and flavor (caramelized red onion) that I like. I just know if I actually used raw dough to do a pizza on my blog it'll look like crap even if it tastes good!
Serves 2 - 3
1/2 large red onion, cut in half, then sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 - 1/2 cups of fresh broccoli florets
2 cooked chicken breasts, thinly sliced
kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated cheddar
pre-cooked pizza crust
For the sauce
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
Heat a medium skillet to medium with one tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, drop in the sliced red onion and stir to coat with the oil. When the onions have sweated a little, after 2 or 3 minutes or so, give another stir and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Leave alone and cook for 7-10 minutes (they will caramelize-red onions caramelize easily), checking once to make sure the heat isn't too high that the pan burns. Turn off heat and put onions aside.
While your onions are cooking, bring a medium sized pot of water to a boil and drop in your broccoli florets. Cook for 2 minutes and then submerge in an ice bath (bowl of cold water with lots of ice cubes) or run continuously under cold water for a few minutes. The idea is to stop the broccoli from cooking immediately. Drain when cold and set aside.
I browned my chicken on both sides in an oiled skillet, and then added a little chicken stock, covered and simmered till it was cooked through but you can cook your chicken anyway you like.
Once your onions, broccoli, and chicken are cooked, and your cheeses grated (please grate your own-there are very few instances when pre-grated is okay! huge HUGE flavor and texture difference for the price.) it's time to make your sauce. This sauce is essentially a flavored roux. A roux is a cooked mixture of fat and flour and many sauces and gravies begin with one. Master a roux and you are halfway to making a delicious sauce.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Wash the lemon well. Cut the lemon in half. Use a reamer or a fork to get all the juice out and reserve in a bowl. Cut each half into quarters and use your fingers to peel out the rest of the fruit, leaving you with just peel. You'll need two medium sauce pans. Put the peel and the milk and half & half in one of the sauce pans. Bring just to a slow boil, stirring occasionally, then remove from heat. Remove the peel and set peel aside.
In the second sauce pan, melt the butter over a low medium heat. When melted, whisk in the flour and continue whisking until the mixture is a slight caramel color (just a minute or two). Then very slowly, whisk in the half & half and milk mixture. Keep whisking once everything is incorporated. The sauce will thicken pretty quickly. Turn the heat down if it seems to thicken excessively and add extra milk if necessary. Cook like this for 5 minutes or so, or until the flour no longer tastes raw (stick your finger in there and taste!). Turn off heat and stir in the 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and grind 1 teaspoon black pepper into the sauce. Slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons reserved lemon juice till the mixture is well blended. Take the lemon peel you set aside earlier, rinse it off (it will have cream on it) and zest it. If you don't have a citrus zester, you can usually find that your box grater has a side that works perfectly for this. You'll need less than 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest. Stir zest in to the sauce. Adjust salt and pepper seasoning. It should taste lightly like alfredo but very peppery and a little lemony.
Put the pizza shell on a cookie sheet or pizza stone and spread out the peppercorn lemon sauce thinly on it. Top with broccoli, red onion, and chicken. Add shredded cheddar, mozzarella and the last of the parmesan. Bake for 10 minutes and then broil for 3 or 4 minutes till cheese begins to brown. Cut into 4 -6 pieces. Serve with slices of lemon.
All text and photographs © 2008, 2009 Food is to love / Andrea Quigley