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Deep dish or thin crust?

November 23, 2016

Fired up about pizza
Just in time for the holiday season: turkey-cranberry pizza. “I basically use leftovers from Christmas dinner. It’s delicious,” said self-taught pizza chef Chris Rowntree. Photo: Chris Rowntree
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Calling all foodies! Welcome to our ‘tempting’ new series entitled, Food, Glorious Food! where we profile Vale employees who have a passion for cooking and baking. If you love tasty homemade treats (and who doesn’t!?)  you won’t want to miss a single instalment about these talented gourmands. Each has agreed to share their knowledge… and possibly even a few secrets and recipes. So, sharpen your pencils – and your knives – and read on…

When asked about his favourite cooking muse, Chris Rowntree, automations specialist at our Operation in Long Harbour, NL, said it was a toss-up. On the one hand he’s a huge fan of Prince Edward Island-based Michael Smith, “who can cook a great meal out of almost anything,” but Rowntree also loves the impromptu cooking style of platinum-haired Guy Fieri of “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.”

When Rowntree is alone in his backyard experimenting on his new Brava Fuoco 100 wood-fired pizza oven, however, the only inspiration he consciously draws on is that of his father: “My dad liked to tinker in the kitchen. He wasn’t much of a recipe follower. As a single parent, he basically learned to cook out of necessity. I picked up quite a few cooking tips from him. And, like my dad, I like to change things up a bit.”

While Rowntree spends much of his day working with robots in the Refinery, once he’s at home in his backyard, in nearby Whitbourne, he’s eager to put aside manuals and protocols and let his imagination run free.

“I’ve wanted a wood-fire pizza oven for as long as I can remember,” said Rowntree. “I had planned to build my own but then I found this one and I couldn’t resist. It runs over 800 F and cooks amazing pizza in two-and-a-half minutes.  I’ve been experimenting with all kinds of ingredients and I even change the firewood I burn in the oven, sometimes using maple wood to give my pizza a slightly different flavour.”

With an adventurous spirit like that, it’s no surprise that Rowntree, who loves cooking for friends, has also experimented with a variety of pizza toppings including: shrimp, scallops, bacon, smoked char. “I’ve even tried swapping ranch and Italian dressings in place of a tomato base. Delicious!”

While his current style of cooking may differ from his dad’s methods, Rowntree still follows his father’s safety precautions when it comes to barbecuing and grilling: “I always have a fire extinguisher nearby and I open the lid completely before lighting the fire – and I make sure the gas pan is turned off when I’m finished.”

Does Rowntree plan to fire up his oven during the upcoming holiday season? “Absolutely. I’ve even developed a Boxing Day Pizza recipe that calls for leftover turkey with a cranberry-mayo base.”

Our gift to you: Chris Rowntree’s Boxing Day Pizza Recipe.

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Boxing Day Pizza Recipe courtesy of Chris Rowntree

Ingredients: *

Pizza dough

Cranberry-mayo (2 parts mayo, 1 part cranberry sauce)

Leftover turkey

Leftover stuffing

Shredded mozzarella cheese

Bacon bits

Instructions:

Spread cranberry-mayo evenly over pizza dough

Spread thin layer of stuffing

Place turkey around pizza

Spread thin layer of cheese

Sprinkle bacon over cheese

Cooking times:

Using a pizza oven, cook at 800 F for two-and-a-half minutes. If cooking on a regular barbeque or in a traditional oven, cook at 400 F for 10 minutes.

Leftover gravy makes for a great dipping sauce!

* Use amounts according to your own tastes.


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