Strawberry Balsamic Pizza with Chicken & Applewood Bacon

When choosing recipes for my menu, and hopefully for my blog I often spend hours searching through thousands of them.  I don’t really go into a week of planning with specifics in mind, I like to stay pretty open to whatever catches my eye.  Among the many that just don’t make the cut are some that I like to save for a later date for one reason or another… perhaps they are a bit too indulgent for my current eating habits, or would be great for a nice meal, or other times they just look so interesting to me that I can’t help but save them to reconsider later on.

Tonight’s recipe falls under the last category.  While the idea of fruits in savory dishes is most definitely not a “new” thing, it is somewhat foreign to me.  I guess it’s just hardwired into my brain that they are sweet… and thus best suited for desserts.  Of course this is not true, and through my experimentation I have come to realize this, but there are still plenty of fruit and savory combinations I have yet to try…. perhaps someday.  One that had been a long time on my list was strawberries and balsamic vinegar.  When I saw this recipe it just really stood out, and I knew I HAD to try it.  Not only do we love gourmet pizzas, and want to try the flavor combo, but it also has bacon!  Who could ask for more!?

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Let’s just say…. I was NOT disappointed.  In fact I could easily put this up there in my top favorite pizzas.  It has such a freshness to it from the strawberries and cilantro, balanced perfectly with the sweet, tangy and ever so slightly spicy sauce (which according to my husband tastes like BBQ sauce, but perhaps a fruity version) and salty crisp bacon.  Plus, it’s a gorgeous pizza with all the colors, and sure to impress.  I honestly would not change a thing about this recipe or even embellish it.  I plan on making this one over and over again.

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Though I wouldn’t change anything, there are a couple places that leave some room for versatility based on what you use.  For the crust I used a Stone Fire flatbread (multigrain) which I found in my local grocery store.  And for the strawberry jam I went with Santa Cruz Organics Strawberry Spread, which I feel is a little fresher/less sweet than some of the popular brands.  As I mentioned above the sriracha lends just a HINT of heat to this, and it was great as is, but I would also like to try it with a bit more and see what that does in terms of balance as well.  For the cheese I used an Italian Blend, pre-shredded.  Feel free to over-estimate your ingredients like I tend to do and really pile them on there… mine was kind of heaping when I got it all on there because my crust was already perhaps a bit smaller than a typical “ball of dough” would yield and I get a bit heavy handed.  As long as you have a crust that can stand up to it, I say the more the better!

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Strawberry Balsamic Pizza with Chicken & Applewood Bacon

Ingredients :

  • 1/2 cup strawberry jam or preserves
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Sriracha Chili Sauce
  • 1 ball pizza dough
  • 1 cup diced or shredded cooked chicken breast (I used rotisserie)
  • 1/2 cup applewood smoked bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces, cooked
  • 1/2 cup thin sliced sweet onion
  • 12 oz. shredded Italian blend cheese (I used closer to 6-8 oz because my crust was smaller)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh strawberries, diced small

Directions :

  1. Place pizza stone or sheet pan on middle rack of oven.  Preheat to 450 degrees (I was making other things at the same time and with a pre-baked crust I just left mine at 400 which worked great)
  2. Place balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer 4-5 minutes or until reduced to half of original volume and mixture is thick and syrupy.  Add strawberry preserves and Sriracha and mix well.  Set aside to cool.
  3. Pat or roll out pizza dough on lightly floured surface to approximately a 14 inch circle.  Place a piece of parchment paper, slightly larger than your dough, on a pizza peel or upside down sheet pan (to help in transfer).  Sprinkle parchment paper lightly with cornmeal.  Fold dough in quarters and place on parchment paper, then unfold.  (Or if you are using ready made crust like me forget all that)
  4. Combine chicken with 2 T. of the balsamic-strawberry mixture and mix to coat all chicken with sauce.  Pour rest of sauce onto pizza dough and spread to cover, leaving 1 inch border on edges.  Scatter chicken evenly over the sauce.
  5. Place about 3/4 of the cheese on top of dough and spread to cover sauce evenly.  Scatter bacon and sweet onion over cheese.  Scatter remaining cheese over this layer.
  6. Slide parchment paper with pizza on top onto stone or cookie sheet.  Bake for approximately 8-10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and crust is golden brown.  Watch carefully, at this temperature it is easy to burn the pizza. (I only had to bake mine the same amount of time at 400 with the pre-made crust)
  7. Remove from oven and let cool slightly, 1-2 minutes.  Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and fresh diced strawberries and serve!

Recipe from The Cafe

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