2010 April: Perfect Pies

Constructing a pizza with four cheeses is as easy as, well, selecting the four cheeses to use. However, because we have such a great wealth of cheeses at our disposal, it now becomes a matter of making sure that the cheeses that do go on that four-cheese pizza are not stepping all over each other’s flavors. In other words, we’re seeking balance. We would not, for example, want three of those four cheeses to be strong or too assertive.

The classic four-cheese blend would be mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan and Romano. In this scenario, the mozzarella and provolone would play a leading role, while the Parmesan and Romano would play supporting roles.

But we can easily tinker with that arrangement by replacing the Romano with Asiago. We could further develop the fl avor profile by using fresh mozzarella (fi or di latte) instead of basic mozzarella. Then add a few small dollops of ricotta, over which I would sprinkle a blend of grated Parmesan and Romano (3 parts Parmesan to 1 part Romano).

Another four-cheese arrangement –– and this one falls quite nicely into that “gourmet pizza” category –– I like includes mozzarella, Asiago, fontina, and a gentle sprinkling of crumbles of Gorgonzola. (Go light on the Gorgonzola, because it has a strong flavor profile.)

For this particular column, I am leaving out other styles of cheeses –– goat, Mexican cheeses, cheddar, feta, Swiss, etc. –– any of which would work, but I will save that for another time.

Four Cheese Pesto and Chicken Pizza

This is an incredibly delicious pizza. Keep in mind that Parmesan cheese is part of the pesto sauce, so we count that as one of the cheeses.

Yield: One 14-inch pizza (scale up in direct proportion)

1 14-inch pizza shell
4 ounces prepared pesto sauce
½ cup grated Romano cheese
6 ounces cooked chicken strips or chunks
6 ounces blend mozzarella and provolone

Paint the pesto sauce over the crust leaving about ½-inch border (crust edge). Sprinkle on the Romano cheese. Sprinkle the chicken evenly over the crust. Do the same with the mozzarella and provolone blend. Bake.

Classic Four-Cheese Pizza

This is probably the easiest, but still the tastiest four-cheese pizza around. In every way a pizza for cheese lovers.

Yield: One 14-inch pizza (scale up in direct proportion)

1 14-inch pizza shell
6 ounces pizza sauce or all-purpose ground tomatoes
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3 tablespoons grated
Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons grated Romano cheese
4 ounces shredded mozzarella
4 ounces shredded provolone (or use a 50/50 mozzarella/provolone blend)

Paint the shell with the tomatoes up to the border of the crust. Sprinkle the oregano over the tomatoes. In a mixing bowl, toss the four cheese to blend. Sprinkle the four cheeses over the tomatoes. Bake.

Pat Bruno
is Pizza Today’s resident chef and a regular contributor. He is the former owner and operator of a prominent Italian cooking school in Chicago and is a food critic for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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