Thursday, September 15, 2011

Food Network Friday: Chicken Stuffed with Smoked Mozzarella, Roasted Tomatoes and Broccoli Rabe over Potatoes with Marsala Sauce

What you are about to read about is real...home cook Kelly Cavalier has no knowledge of the challenge she's about to face. Kelly has tackled some of the toughest culinary challenges in the world but can she conquer this one?

Alright, now I'm talking about myself in the third person and sound a little nuts but this Food Network Friday recipe is from Robert Irvine from Dinner:Impossible and I got a little into the whole theme of it. Maybe I haven't faced the toughest culinary challenges in the world but I have made cheesy pizza without cheese and tasty bacon bits out of coconut (little nod to AVK!) so I think it works!

When I first look at the recipe I always look through for the things I will definitely have to take out and what I can leave. So out the window goes chicken, smoked mozzarella, marsala wine and butter but hey that's only 4 out of 13, this won't be so impossible after all. I thought about how to do it as it was written and then I decided to change it up a bit. That's the fun of Food Network Friday after all, seeing how everyone interprets the recipe! I decided early on in my planning it was going to be a pizza with a roasted tomato sauce. I thought about using seitan for the chicken but then tested a sandwich for Celine and Tami (Marinated Eggplant and Tofu Sandwich...sooo good!) that had a marinated tofu steak in it that was incredibly like chicken so I decided to go with that instead. Also from testing, I decided to use a cheese that was used on a few sandwiches that was a little smokey. I actually had said to Ryan when I first tasted it that it was alot like a smoked gouda so I figured it would work perfectly here. I thought about it over the next few days and kept coming up with different ways to do it (rolling up the fillings in eggplant, stacking it instead of rolling it) but decided to stick to my original plan of pizza.

So last night I decide it's time to go for it but I wanted to have a little fun with it. I pictured it like an episode of Dinner:Impossible and thought what if he walked into a mission where he had to reinterpret a dish he's already made but it had to be...what for it....VEGAN! I also decided to set a timer just like on the show and I gave myself 2 hours on the clock to get it all done and on the table. I came up with the 2 hours mostly because the recipe says 2 hours and 20 minutes total time and I wanted show Robert up a bit. I have no clue how the man does what he does on that show ever and seriously felt a little pressured even though the timer was totally self-induced. It made me hustle a bit in the beginning but as I got about half way into it I realized I had loads of time and took it easy/checked my Facebook.

I started off by making the pizza dough. I used a really simple recipe that I have had lying around forever with just flour, yeast, salt, sugar, water and bit of olive oil. I set it aside to rise and got to work on my sauce. I quartered about 5 largish tomatoes and spread them on a sheet pan. I decided to toss a few halved shallots in there too and 4 big ol' cloves of garlic. I tossed all that with a splash of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, italian seasoning and S&P and put it in the oven at 400F not knowing exactly how long it would take but I wanted some caramelized yumminess on them so I figured about 30 minutes or so. I then steamed some small diced yukon gold potatoes...oh yeah, potatoes on pizza, don't think I was going to leave them out!? I steamed them a bit first then I put them in a cast iron pan with a little olive oil and crisped them up. When they were done I set them on a paper towel to get some of the extra oil off. While they were steaming I pressed and marinated my tofu which I decided to dice small like the potatoes figuring it would be a good pizza topping size. I then browned those in the same pan I browned the potatoes in and set them aside as well. Last up was the broccoli rabe but I will admit me and broccoli rabe, we're not friends. I never really liked it, always finding it a little bitter but I love broccoli so I just switched them out. I cut it small and set it aside. By this time my tomatoes/shallots/garlic has all browned up and looked good so I put it all in the Vitamix and blended it deciding to leave it slightly chunky instead of going super smooth. And that's when I decided I had a little time left and hadn't fully embraced the fanciness that the marsala wine sauce was bringing to this dish. I don't drink so I wasn't going there and I'm not schooled in the art of vegan wines so I decided I would come up with something on the fly that would give me a similar taste to the overall dish. I went with a balsamic reduction and boy oh boy am I glad I did. I have never attempted this and have only seen it on cooking shows and always thought it would be strange or unnecessary but it was so perfect. I quickly Googled to find some sort of ideas on how to do it and came up with a general idea and set off to it. I will warn you if you haven't made this will need a good working hood fan. You have to bring the vinegar to a boil and it lets off some serious fumes while you do it. I put mine on to find out it was thinking about dying. See...just like on Dinner:Impossible, something always goes wrong! But I survived, we cracked a few windows and kept the small children and animals out of the kitchen (okay maybe it wasn't that bad but it's strong've been warned).

With all the individual ingredients prepped, it was time to release the dough. It had risen up quite a bit and certainly was ready to go. I turned the oven up to 500F and got out a sheet pan deciding to go for a extra large family sized pizza. I sprinkled the pan with a bit of cornmeal and rolled the dough out to fit inside the pan. I spread the sauce, grated some of that smokey cheese on top, sprinkled the broccoli all over, followed by the tofu chicken bites and potatoes. I baked it for 14 minutes and the crust started browning, cheese melting, tofu chicken bites and potatoes crisp and browned too...and the smell...ah the smell! It filled up the kitchen mingling with the balsamic smell and it was heavenly! Both Ryan and I were ready for this one when it came out since it had been giving us that come hither look (or smell). When I pulled it out, I drizzled the balsamic reduction over the top, erring on the side of caution not knowing how it would all work together but about two bites in I was grabbing that pot and redrizzling since it was so good with it! I really loved the whole thing, it all worked together perfectly. So perfectly that neither Ryan or I could or would stop ourselves from having some more. I even found myself thinking about the few slices leftover in the fridge later that night. We both managed to keep enough for us to have leftovers for lunch today and it was just as good cold, maybe even better since the sauce was even tastier today having time for all the flavours to mingle. And...I forgot to mention...the timer beeped just as I set a slice on the plate...MISSON COMPLETED!

If you want to see the recipe as Robert Irvine intended, check it out at

And if you want to see what everyone else did with this one, check out Tami's blog at and you definitely should, it's always amazing what everyone does with these recipes! I checked and Tamasin has put the next Food Network Friday on hiatus for October due to Vegan MoFo but definitely play along some time, it's so much fun!


  1. Love how you made this into a pizza! So clever! It looks great!

  2. Love the idea of a pizza! Always looking for fun pizza ideas, thanks. Alex