Saturday, August 24, 2013

Lime Thyme Garlic Pollo Pita Pizza

Not long ago, a Foodie Friend whom I follow on Twitter shared a fantastic college food idea: Pita Pizza.  Therefore, I must recommend that you look up and follow my friends, Johnny and Nicole, @2CollegeFoodies on Twitter.  They have amazing ideas concerning all things college food and a love of food, in general, not to mention how funny and enthusiastic they are.  They're awesome.  Look them up! 
 Now that my son has moved away to attend a university in a city north of our little Big wine town, I have charged myself with coming up with college food ideas that are healthy and above all, easy and nearly effortless for my son to make.  Johnny's pita pizzas is one of those ideas that is a must-share with you in my college food series blog posts.  I have to say that  while the pita pizzas he and I made today do take some effort, there are many ways in which they can be put together practically effortlessly in less than thirty minutes, and I will share those ideas with you at the end of this post.  
With that said, and credit due given to Johnny (and Nicole), as is due, here is what I put together for our pita pizzas today:  one package of six boneless, skinless chicken thighs seasoned simply with salt and pepper, and marinated in a large zip lock bag with a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil, the juice of 4-6 limes, two cloves garlic, crushed and sliced and a heaping tablespoon of dried thyme (or several sprigs of fresh, bruised thyme).  I allowed the chicken to marinate for an hour. 
Meanwhile,  I preheated the oven to 400 degrees.  Using a cutting board and a good, sharp culinary knife, I had my son seed, rib and sliver one large Italian Sweet Chili pepper (freshly picked from my potted patio garden!), and sliver three whole, fire roasted green Anaheim chiles. I love those!  I, meanwhile, finely chopped three more cloves of garlic, set that aside, and mixed it with a tablespoon of crushed, dried oregano. I Love oregano!  It is one of my favorite herbs, fresh or dried.

After an hour, I added garlic infused olive oil to my oval grill pan over medium-high heat and, when the oil began to ripple, I added the marinating chicken.  One thing I have learned about grilling, you must never try to force or turn over items like chicken or pork until they are ready to release from the pan. Be patient with it!  
I sauteed the Italian Sweet chiles for several minutes in a little more olive oil until nearly tender and set that aside in a bowl with the roasted green chiles. 
THAT, folks, was the hard part.  Ready for the fun part?  
While the chicken (pollo) grilled away, I had my son add a teaspoon of garlic infused extra virgin olive oil to two pocketless pitas.  I had him spread it around.  I had him add a tablespoon and a half of our favorite store-bought pesto with a spoon and spread it around.  I had him add some of the chiles and some of the extra finely chopped garlic and oregano mixture to the pita pizzas.  When the chicken (pollo) was done, I had him remove them, set them on a plate, and allow them to rest.  Like any protein that has been grilled or cooked, allowing it to "rest" allows the juices to redistribute, keeping the meat tender and juicy; in that way, the juice stays in the meat and does not flow all over your cutting board. I had him sliced the chicken in to bite-sized morsels. I cannot even begin to tell you how wonderful his kitchen smelled with that marinated chicken grilling away.  Just amazing.  I had him toss some of the lime thyme garlic pollo onto the pita pizzas, had him wash up and sprinkle some mozzarella cheese atop that, and sprinkle both a little more thyme as well as a pinch of smoked sweet paprika over the top.  DeLish.  I had him place the baking sheet lined with foil we'd placed the pitas on into the oven.  

When they came out, about ten minutes later, I added fresh torn basil atop the pizzas. After a couple of minutes, to allow the basil to wilt, I had my son cut them into four perfect servings.  The marriage of the lime, thyme and garlic, along with the subtle underlying flavor of the pesto made for an awesome taste experience. 
I realize that you may be shaking your head thinking:  "That is not really easy for time-deprived college students to make!"  You are correct. This might be for a day when the student is casually having study buddies or friends over.  An easier way of utilizing chicken is to purchase a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store, shred it or cube it and store it for later use (freezing). I also recommend using favorite lunch meats, leftovers, pre-sliced favorites such as salami, pepperoni or sausage or other ready-to-use items.  You can use tomato-based pizza sauce, herb-infused olive oil, pre-shredded cheeses, and again, the bake time at 400-degrees is about ten minutes. The possibilities are pretty endless, if you ask me.

Equally flavorful, the other two pita pizzas I had my son make employed thinly sliced oven roasted
Andouille sausage. The pita pizzas were put together exactly the same way as the others, but we used the sausage instead of the pollo/chicken. The spicy, salty bite of the sausage against the gentle pesto and mozzarella flavors was college foodie heaven. The basil atop all of the pita pizzas added beautiful color and also a gentle, warming flavor. This was one of my all-time favorite, college foodies or not!  Thanks, Johnny!

Below:  Adding Basil to the Andouille sausage pita pizza.

I hope that you have enjoyed this second installment of the College Foodie Blog Series. I appreciate that you have taken the time to visit my humble blog!  Thank You!

Once more, big Shout Out and Thank You to Johnny and Nicole of @2collegefoodies on Twitter!