Wednesday, September 16, 2009

BBQ Chicken Pizza

This is one of my favorites only because it might be Kate's favorite. It's a great variance from the usual tomato sauce-based pizza.

There are plenty of recipes for homemade pizza dough out there on that world wide web, in books and magazines, they run the gamut from simple to 2-day projects. Yes, overnight fermentation does develop more yeasty flavor. Sometimes there just isn't enough time for that, however at least allow yourself a couple hours for the simple method, much more rewarding than those store-bought crusts.

The key to replicating a thin, crispy crust is heat. You know those Italian wood-fired brick ovens can reach 800° F, and the fancy commercial ones can get even hotter. There’s been a recent influx of artisan pizza joints in Chicago- Spacca Napoli, Great Lake, Coalfire. Piece in Wicker Park was one of the first, specializing in New Haven-style pizza, and brewing their own award-winning beer certainly helps. If you want to actually sit down (Great Lake) and don't want to drop $20 or more on a pie, then DIY. You just need to crank up that oven and use a pizza stone. Unglazed stone quarry tiles work too, just don't get the super-thin cheap stones as they tend to crack after a few uses. Trust me, you need a stone for baking any pizzas or breads. And you’ll need a pizza peel too. It might take a pie or two to get the hang of it, I certainly started out with an ugly pie from not using enough cornmeal, which results in your dough sticking to the peel, not something you want to experience.

Lots of recipes call for straight AP flour. I prefer to use bread flour, the higher amount of gluten is important for the crispy texture. And instead of AP flour, I like to use whole-wheat, to make it a little healthier. Refined white flour is the devil, you know. That and high-fructose corn syrup. After experimenting with different ratios I like a 50/50 mix of bread flour to whole-wheat flour.

The time-consuming method-


The easier method-

1 packet dry active yeast

1 C warm water, 105-110 F

1 ts honey

1.25 C bread flour, King Arthur preferred

1.25 C whole-wheat flour

1 ts oregano

1ts red chili flakes

1 ts salt

For the pizza-

1 C BBQ sauce, Sweet Baby Ray’s preferred

1.5-2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or diced

1/3 red onion, thinly sliced

2 C mozzarella, shredded

2 TB cilantro, roughly chopped


Black pepper

Stir the yeast, honey, and water in a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes until foamy. Combine the flours, oregano, chili flakes, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer or other large bowl and stir with a whisk attachment to mix thoroughly. Add the yeast mixture and stir until incorporated. Mix for about 5 minutes using a dough hook on speed 2, until the dough forms a ball and clears the sides of the bowl. The dough should climb up the hook and be smooth and elastic. You know the dough is ready when it passes the transparency test-you pinch off a small piece and if it will stretch out to the point where light passes through without it breaking, you’re good to go. If you don’t have a stand mixer, once all the ingredients are incorporated knead for 10 minutes on a lightly-floured surface.

Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly-oiled bowl, rolling it around to cover the ball with oil. Cover with a kitchen towel and place in a somewhat warm, draft free area. Let proof until doubled in size, about 1.5 hrs.

Preheat your oven to 500° F with the stone on a rack in the bottom third of the oven. Punch down dough and let rest for 15 minutes. Turn out onto a lightly-floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll dough out into something that resembles a round shape, perfection is not important. Your dough should be about a 12” round and about ½” thick. Transfer to a pizza peel that has been dusted with cornmeal, keeping the shape as best as possible. If the dough springs back too much, let rest for 10 minutes and try again.

Once shaped, cover dough with BBQ sauce, stopping about 1” from the edge. Use a spoon to spread the sauce evenly, don’t over do it here. You might need a little more or less than 1 C, eyeball it. Spread the chicken over, then some of the red onion, then the mozzarella. Add the rest of the onion on top of the cheese. Slide the pizza onto the stone and bake for a total of 6-8 minutes, until cheese is all bubbly goodness. After 4 minutes you might have to rotate the pizza 180° if your oven is not browning evenly.

Top with the cilantro, some parmegiano-reggiano and black pepper. Let rest 3-5 minutes, then slice it up and enjoy.

Finally- Never wash your stone with soap and water! You will have some black spots from baking things, burnt cornmeal, etc. That is okay, just scrape off as best you can once cool enough to handle. If you wash with soap and water, anything you bake on that will taste like Palmolive. That’s not tasty.

1 comment:

  1. Its true, I LOOOOOOOOOVE this pizza. We never have leftovers because it tastes too good and I always want just ONE more slice!