August 12, 2011

Dining In: BBQ Chicken Pizza Night!

There are many great things about pizza. Melted cheese and dough are probably the two most important (although, I've had some good vegan pizzas, so maybe not essential). My favorite thing about pizza is that it really encompasses a huge variety of foods. You start with a pretty blank slate - dough - and then you can basically build whatever you want on top.


The dough.

I'm a fan of your standard pepperoni and I have to say, Papa John's veggie pizza is probably my favorite commercial pizza (all that sodium...mmm). But so far, my favorite pizza to make at home is my BBQ chicken pizza. (I say so far, because I have plans in the works. Let's just say it's fall themed and it involves butternut squash and sharp cheddar, and I am drooling just thinking about it). But I digress. For now, BBQ pizza is my favorite to make at home, and it just so happens that as MG and I were planning our meals for the week, we realized we had all the ingredients we needed already in our fridge.

Layering on the sauce.

Since my recipe calls for both chicken and bacon, this pizza is definitely neither vegetarian- nor kosher-friendly, but I have a feeling that you could probably marinate tofu in some BBQ sauce or liquid smoke mixture and you'd have yourself a pretty good substitute. I haven't gotten on board yet with fake cheese though, so if you're vegan you'll have to test it out and report back. And then I'll take your word for it.

Before and after. Note the exponential increase in gooeyness.

More pixels so you can fully appreciate the meltiness.

Paired with some greens and reds.

Anyways, you can always play with the ingredients - sometimes we use smoked Gouda, sometimes sharp cheddar, and sometimes we'll add a bell pepper if we happen to have it or omit the bacon if we happen to not (or like tonight, when we forgot to defrost it).  As I said before, the crust is just your blank slate, so go crazy!

Now excuse me while I wipe the barbecue sauce off my face and my keyboard.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Makes 8 slices.

pizza dough (see note)
1 boneless skinless chicken breast
1/3 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce
1/2 cup smoked Gouda or sharp cheddar, shredded*
1/2 medium red onion, sliced
2 jalapenos, seeded and sliced in rings
2-4 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped

A note on pizza dough: Making pizza dough is super easy and if you've never tried it, I recommend you give it a go. We recommend this recipe from Epicurious. If you aren't feeling that ambitious, you can usually find balls of pre-made, but uncooked dough in the deli section of your grocery store. As a last resort you could use a prebaked crust, but I really don't recommend that. Freshly cooked pizza crust is part of the appeal!

Preheat oven to 450F.

Grill your chicken breast on a grill pan over medium-high heat until an instant read thermometer registers 165 degrees. Allow the chicken to cool a bit and then chop it up!

Meanwhile, spray your hands with a little cooking spray and roll out your dough onto your baking sheet. The dough will be pretty elastic-y, so it will try to spring back and at some point, you'll just use your hands to push it into shape. No need for sharp corners here, a "rustic" shape is perfectly acceptable :)

Pour the barbecue sauce onto the dough and spread it around with a spoon, leaving about 1/2 an inch at the edges. Top with cheese, grilled chicken, jalapenos, onion and cooked bacon. Brush a little olive oil onto the uncovered crust at the edges.

Bake in the oven for about 12-15 minutes. You can tell it's ready when the cheese is all gooey and awesome. BUT, restrain yourself, and let it cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving. Trust me, if you don't you will A) have a mess and B) have some mouth injuries (by the way, did you know that "pizza burn" is actually something they learn to identify in dental school? My dentist told me that once when I had an appointment the morning after an unfortunate encounter with a very hot slice of cheese).

Slice and serve and enjoy!

*I recognize that this is way less cheese than you'd get on a store-bought pizza. Personally, I think a little goes a long way, and if I'm watching calories, I'd rather have a little less cheese and add some bacon. But, you can totally up the cheese factor here. I will not judge you.

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