Thursday, May 08, 2008


I wasn’t sure whether to make this post a tribute to California Pizza Kitchen or a kiss-off. I don’t eat at chain restaurants that often, but I’ll admit a soft spot in my heart for CPK, which I had never eaten at before moving to California and which has since worked its way into my California-culture repertoire as a frequent site of workplace lunches and casual evening dinners (particularly for us in Pasadena, where good pizza restaurants have thus far been hard for me to discover). A friend recommended this pizza to me upon my first visit to CPK, and although I did try a few other varieties before settling down, it quickly became my go-to favorite, with its tender potatoes and subtle winey-buttery-herby-garlicky-oniony (shalloty, as it turns out) sauce. So when CPK summarily retired it last year, I felt more than a little betrayed. A’s CPK favorite, Peking duck pizza, disappeared at the same time, and we briefly contemplated a boycott of the restaurant before realizing that we don’t really eat there that much anyway (plus, there’s still a garlic chicken pizza at CPK that bears an uncanny resemblance to my departed favorite, but for the sad absence of potatoes). But it was one of those moments of modern life when you feel helplessly smashed in the cogs of the corporate machine, and it did piss me off enough for me to search out the recipe for rosemary-potato-chicken pizza online so that I could try to replicate it at home. Luckily, CPK did publish a cookbook in the 1990s, and although my library didn’t carry it, Amazon’s “Search Inside” feature can be manipulated to gain access to desired content without buying the book. I felt so vengeful toward CPK that I copied out the entire recipe from the Internet by hand on a sheet of graph paper—but in doing so, I noticed how complicated it was—it consisted of four separate mini-recipes for pizza dough, garlic-shallot butter, grilled chicken, and rosemary potatoes, and the ingredients list was about a mile long. I stashed it away in a folder, in case someday I got really ambitious.

Finally, last week, that day arrived. I’m continuing to become a more confident cook, and I’m currently on a homemade-pizza bender, so when I stumbled across the hand-scrawled recipe in the back of the folder and happened to glance it over, it didn’t seem so intimidating. With the advent of Trader Joe’s pizza dough as a shortcut, I could ignore the CPK pizza dough recipe (someday I’ll probably get into making my own, but not while I live two blocks from a TJ’s), and it seemed like the rest of the recipe could be streamlined. It was basically just: season some potato slices and bake them in the oven (the original recipe as I copied it down said it would take 45 minutes to bake quarter-inch-thick slices, but that just didn’t seem possible), marinate some chicken and grill it (I’d be doing this on the George Foreman for expediency), and make a simple sauce of butter, garlic, shallots, white wine, lemon juice, and herbs. The original recipe had seemed too decadent, calling for so much butter, it also made two CPK-sized pizzas; I figured I could halve the recipe for my baking-sheet-sized crust—I might get slightly sparser topping coverage, but I’d survive. All in all, it didn’t seem too arduous an undertaking, especially if it meant I could taste that delicious pizza once again.

The verdict: more complicated than most of my other pizza recipes, but not at all hard to make. I simplified the ingredient list to reflect total quantities (so that I could just mince 2 tablespoons of garlic at the beginning, for instance, instead of cutting up a teaspoon for the chicken marinade and then later realizing I needed another 2 teaspoons for the potatoes and more for the sauce), and I rearranged the steps more efficiently, so that I could work on the potatoes while the chicken marinated and the sauce while the potatoes cooked. And the result? As tasty as the original, and somehow more wholesome-feeling because I’d made it myself. The garlic-shallot butter is amazing in its own right. Admittedly, this pizza was delectable enough that I might have eaten half of it in one sitting if no one was looking, but two slices with a large green salad still made a perfectly satisfying weeknight dinner, and that way I got to have leftovers the next day. A wasn't home for dinner that night and didn't eat his portion until after I went to bed, but he enjoyed it so much that he left me a note on the bathroom mirror that said, "Awesome pizza!"

I’ll definitely be making this again. Probably more often than I eat at CPK, for that matter.

Recipe notes: I didn’t have any chicken broth in the freezer, so I skipped that. It’s such a small amount, I didn’t notice the missing flavor; however, if I had it on hand, I would add it. I also totally forgot to add the parsley at the end and didn’t notice its absence until I started typing up the recipe just now. Poor parsley, always an afterthought.

2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic, divided
½ teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon coarse (kosher or sea) salt, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (5 to 8 ounces)
½ pound small red potatoes, sliced into ⅛-inch-thick rounds
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano, divided
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, divided
Ground pepper to taste
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons minced shallot
½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoons chardonnay
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon chicken stock
Dough for one pizza (1 lb)
¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Combine 1 teaspoon minced garlic, ½ teaspoon soy sauce, ½ teaspoon coarse salt, and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small, shallow bowl. Add chicken, turning it over to coat it thoroughly, and marinate for about 15 minutes.

3. While chicken is marinating, mix together 2 teaspoons minced garlic, ½ teaspoon chopped fresh oregano, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, ground pepper to taste, ½ teaspoon coarse salt, and 1 tablespoon oil in a medium bowl. Add the sliced potatoes and toss to coat thoroughly. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the potato slices on it in a single layer, without overlapping. Discard leftover potato marinade (do not pour over potatoes). Place potatoes in oven and cook for about 20 minutes, flipping over once, until tender and beginning to brown. Remove potatoes from oven and increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.

4. While potatoes are cooking, prepare a grill, and when hot, grill chicken until cooked through. Chill chicken in refrigerator until ready to top pizza.

5. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add minced shallot, 1 tablespoon garlic, and minced thyme. Cook, stirring, until tender and light brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add ¼ teaspoon coarse salt, ground pepper to taste, wine, lemon, and chicken stock. Cook until reduced, turning heat to low if necessary to prevent scorching. Remove pan from heat and quickly whisk in 2 tablespoons butter.

6. Roll out pizza dough and place on baking pan or pizza stone. Spread garlic-shallot butter over dough, then cover with the shredded mozzarella. Add the chicken, 1 teaspoon rosemary, 1½ teaspoon oregano, and the potatoes. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until crust is browned. Sprinkle parsley over pizza and serve.

Serves: 4
Time: 90 minutes

1 comment:

LEB said...

This was one of my favorite pizzas at CPK, and I'm so glad to have the recipe. Thanks for posting!