Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Soul Food Pizza!





     Soul Food Pizza - Collard Greens, Black Eyed Peas, Cracklins, Okra, Sweet Red Peppers, Pork Cops and Pan Fried Catfish Nuggets!

     Go with it!  When thinking up a new pizza idea, the first thought that comes to mind is usually the best option.  Weighing a long list of ideas usually results in muddying up the matter.  It is best to take the first option then just go with it!
     Soul Food is traditional southern style cooking.  Soul Food is also old fashioned home style country cooking.  The element of soul is applied with tender loving care when preparing the vittles.  
     Soul Food cooking techniques have roots in traditional African cuisines.  This style of food not only satisfies the nutritional needs of the body, it also satisfies the soul with comfortable rich flavors.  Soul Food is not usually food that is cooked for oneself, it is food that is cooked to satisfy the hunger and feelings of others.  
     Nothing is wasted when preparing Soul Food.  The goal is to achieve peak flavors and to cook each item in a way that enables digestive nutrient uptake to easily occur.  

     Today's Soul Food Pizza is basically an idea that was set in motion and the ingredients were selected to support the Soul Food theme.  As the old saying goes, "it is the idea that counts!"  With this in mind, a cook can use any of their favorite soul food items to make a soul food pizza.  
     The pizza sauce for soul food pizza can be pork gravy, chicken gravy, tomato creole, thickened pot liquor or even Italian pizza sauce.  The meats should be soul food items, like skillet pork chops, chitlins, fried catfish, fried chicken, stewed gizzards, ham, southern style bulk sausage, etcetera.  
     The vegetables should be traditional soul food veggies, like stewed greens, okra, fried okra, tomatoes, onion and mild peppers.  The cheese should be simple and fairly bland, like American processed cheese or fresh farm cheese. 

     Collard Greens, Black Eyed Peas, Cracklins, Okra, Peppers, Pork Cops and Pan Fried Catfish Nuggets are a nice combination of soul food flavors that taste good together on a pizza.  For today's recipe, the pork chops are grilled in a skillet and the deglazed pan juices are added to the collard greens and black eyed peas.  The vegetables for this pizza do not have to be cooked separately.  Fresh frozen black eyed peas can be simmered with the greens and okra.  The pan fried catfish topping is kept warm and placed on the pizza just before serving.  All that is needed at the table when this pizza is served, is hot sauce or some tabasco pepper vinegar on the side!  

     Pizza Dough:
     Follow this link to the pizza dough recipe in this website:
     • Pizza Dough

     Chicago Pizza Sauce:
     This recipe yields enough sauce for 3 medium size pizzas!  
     Chicago style pizza sauce is sweetened and it is only mildly seasoned.   
     Place a 28 ounces of imported Italian canned crushed tomatoes in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/3 cup of olive oil.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of basil.
     Add 1 pinch of crushed red pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Chill the pizza sauce till it is needed.

     *This rest of this recipe yields one medium size 12" to 14" pizza!

     Skillet Grilled Pork Chops and Jus:
     Step 1:  Select 5 or 6 boneless pork chops that are about 1/4" thick.
     Season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 2:  Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of lard or unsalted butter.
     Grill the pork chops till they are fully cooked and lightly browned on both sides.
     Place the pork chops on a tray and let them cool. 
     Chill the pork chops till later in the pizza recipe.
     Step 3:  Drain the excess grease out of the skillet.
     Add 1 cup of water to the pan.
     Deglaze the pan over low heat.  
     Set the pan jus aside.
    

     Cracklin Collard Greens, Black Eyed Peas and Okra:      
     Cracklins are small pork rind pieces slowly rendered in pork lard till they are crisp.  They can be purchased in southern grocery stores, but they are very easy to make.  Snack cracklins are usually cut as bite size pieces.  Cracklins for cooking should be cut much smaller. 
     Step 1:  Wash about 5 to 6 large leaves of fresh collard greens with cold running water.  (1 small bunch)  
     Trim off any damaged parts of the leaves.  
     Cut the thick veined ends of the collard leaves off and discard them.  (The thick plant veins will be tough and chewy no matter how long you cook the greens.  So it is best to trim them off.)   
     Take the smaller collard leaves and split them down the middle, splitting the leaf vein in half.  Do the same for the larger leaves, but cut the large leaves into 4 large pieces.
     Step 2:  Heat a pot over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of bacon grease or unsalted butter.
     Add 1/4 cup of small chopped onion.
     Cook the onions, till they are a caramelized brown color.
     Step 3:  Add 1 pinch of crushed dried red pepper.  (chile caribe)
     Add about 2 tablespoons of cracklins. 
     Add the reserved pork chop pan jus.
     Add 2 cups of water.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.     
     Step 4:  Add the collard greens.
     Add 1 cup of fresh frozen black eyed peas.
     Return the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of cider vinegar.
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     Simmer till the greens and black eyed peas are almost tender.  Add water if the pot starts to run dry.
     Step 6:  Add 1 cup of thick sliced okra.
     Remove the lid from the pot.
     Simmer and reduce the pot liquor, till the excess liquid evaporates and the pot liquor coats the vegetables.  The vegetables should be moist, but not wet, or the pizza will become soggy.
     Keep the vegetables warm on a stove top. 

     Pan Fried Catfish Nuggets:
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 cup of corn meal in a bowl.
     Add 3/4 cup of masa harina. 
     Add 1/2 cup of all purpose flour. 
     Add 2 pinches of cayenne pepper.
     Season the corn meal mixture with 3 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 2:  Cut 6 ounces of catfish filets into large bite size pieces.
     Place about 1/4 cup of milk in a mixing bowl.  
     Place the catfish nuggets in the milk and coat them. 
     Step 3:  Remove the catfish nuggets from the milk.
     Dredge the catfish pieces in the seasoned corn meal mixture.  Be sure that the catfish pieces are coated evenly.
     Step 4:  Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
     Add enough vegetable frying oil or lard, so the oil is about 3/8" deep.
     Adjust the temperature, so the oil is 360ºF.  
     Step 5:  Place the catfish nuggets in the hot oil.
     Fry the catfish pieces on both sides, till they are fully cooked and crispy golden brown.  (CGB!)
     Remove the fried catfish nuggets from the hot oil.
     Place the fried catfish on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     Keep the catfish pieces warm on a stove top.

     Soul Food Pizza:
     Step 1:  Place a stone baking slab in an oven.
     Heat the oven to 450º.
     Step 2:  Place 1 small to medium size portion of pizza dough on a floured countertop.  (A piece of dough that is a little bigger than the size of a softball.)
     Gently flatten the pizza dough into a flat round shape that is about 12" to 14" wide.  The dough should be about 3/8" thick.
     Step 3:  Sprinkle about 1/2 tablespoon of corn meal on a pizza pan.
     Place the shaped pizza dough on the pizza pan.
     Even the edges of the dough, so it looks nice.
     Pat the edge of the pizza dough with fingertips to form the crust.
     Step 4:  Spread a thin layer of the Chicago pizza sauce on the pizza.  Leave the crust bare.
     Step 5:  Place large dabs of the collard greens on the pizza.
     Scatter the okra, cracklins and black eyed peas evenly on the pizza.
     Step 6:  Sprinkle a thin layer of grated mozzarella cheese or American Cheese on the pizza. 
     Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil over the cheese.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of oregano over the cheese.
     Sprinkle about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of thin sliced sweet red bell pepper on the pizza.
     Step 7:  Place the pizza pan on the stone slab in the oven.
     Bake till the crust and cheese starts to turn a light golden color.
     Step 8:  Remove the pizza from the oven.
     Arrange the reserved skillet grilled pork chops on the pizza.
     Place the pizza back in the oven.
     Bake till the crust and cheese become a golden brown color.
     Step 9:  Slide the pizza onto a serving platter.
     Place the reserved pan fried catfish nuggets on the pizza.
     Sprinkle 1 bias sliced green onion over the pizza.
     Slice and serve!

     Savory down home souther country cooking flavors that satisfy the body and soul!  This pizza literally has flavor that is so good, that it is hard to take a break from eating after the first bite.  Please pass the hot sauce!  

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