Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Recipe: Barbecued Smoked Chicken Pizza

When I order pizza, either dining out or ordering in to my home, it is often Barbecue Chicken Pizza. I've had it from a lot of different pizzerias in a lot of different places and well, as far as I'm concerned, I'm a discerning expert. I will tell you that the two best places I've ever had it were from "Not Your Average Joe's" and "Bertucci's" - both chain restaurants. You can still get it from "Not Your Average Joe's" but it is not as good as it used to be because they've changed some ingredients to save money (tsk, tsk). Bertucci's no longer offer theirs because they are trying to be a different kind of restaurant than the one that everyone fell in love with (tsk, tsk).

Without dissecting each and every barbecued chicken pizza I've ever had, allow me to give you the basics of a great one. It's not rocket science, and like all good things, it's simple. You're going to need good ingredients. I've always loved smoked chicken, it is flavorful and holds its juices well, even when frozen, so it was a no brainer that it was my choice for this pizza. Secondly, you're going to want a good barbecue sauce. You can make your own or use your favorite. I like Sweet Baby Ray's Original so that's what I use. Another important ingredient is onions. I've had it with red onions, white onions and green onions in a various states of doneness. They are all good, but in the end I chose caramelized onions. Sure, they take longer, but nothing compares to them on barbecue chicken pizza. Like all pizza, the cheese is important so I've outlined a blend below. It's all pretty simple but after twelve minutes in the oven, it's a slice of heaven! (sorry Mystic Pizza!)

Before we get to the brass tacks of the Barbecued Smoked Chicken Pizza recipe below, allow me to address four primary ingredients that all but guarantees you can make pizza at home that is as good or better than the average local shop. Get used to seeing these important "ingredients" because I am going to add them to every pizza recipe I write on Chop Onions, Boil Water. They are critical to your success.

Cornmeal: Cornmeal's tiny grains act like little ball bearings between flat surfaces. Spread cornmeal on the surface of what you build your pizza on and you'll be able to slide your masterpiece right off it and into your oven. Speaking of what you stretch your dough on, go get yourself a...

Pizza peel:
Buy one, construct your pizza on it, use it to put your pizza in the oven, use it to take your pizza out of the oven. Seems like a small thing right? Try it! By the way, when you're using your peel to slide your pizza into your oven make sure your oven contains a...

Pizza Stone:
Nothing is going to make your home pizza match or exceed the quality of the store bought stuff more than a pizza stone. Get a thick one and get a big one. I park mine right on the lowest rack of my oven and that is where it stays. It makes all the difference in the world and in no time you'll be pulling pizzas out of your oven that will make the thought of a store-bought pie a less-than-ideal option. The pizza stone is not going to work optimally though unless you...

Preheat your oven:
Flat out, no joke, crank her up to 500°F and do that a full 45 minutes before you plan to sprinkle that peel with cornmeal, stretch that dough and then slide that pie onto that stone.

Now onto a truly easy and delicious pizza that you can make at home!

Barbecued Smoked Chicken Pizza

3/4 to 1 lb. of smoked chicken (shredded) or as a substitute you can use cooked and shredded chicken seasoned with a little Liquid Smoke.
2 medium onions (sliced thinly and slow caramelized and allowed to cool)
Enough pizza dough for one 16" to 18" pizza.
Olive oil (some for prepping the dough, some for drizzling after the pizza is done.
Your favorite barbecue sauce
1/2 cup of basil (julienned/chopped)
1/4 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese (grated)

A good pizza cheese blend (shredded, be sure it at least contains mozzarella, cheddar and asiago).

Preheat oven to 500°F for 45 minutes to one hour before you plan on cooking the pizza.

Stretch a dough ball to a 16" to 18" disc and place it on your cornmealed peel. I'm not going to go into dough stretching here because it is a learned thing and there are a variety of methods each with its proponents, each for good reason. Do a little research and practice a bit. Don't plan on a perfectly round pizza all the time!

Brush a thin layer of olive oil over the surface of the stretched dough.

Spread a thin layer OR make a spiral of barbecue sauce over the stretched dough.

Sprinkle some of the basil evenly over the pizza (reserve most of the basil for when the pizza comes out of the oven).

Distribute the caramelized onions over the pizza.

Sprinkle the parmigiano-reggiano over the the pizza.

Distribute the shredded, smoked chicken over the pizza.

Distribute the shredded cheese blend over the pizza. When doing this it is important to remember to keep most of the cheese out of the middle of the pizza. As it melts it will tend to gather toward the middle anyway.

Place the pizza in the oven until the bottom is slightly browned and the cheese is bubbly (8 to 12 minutes). Remove, add additional basil to taste, drizzle with some olive oil, allow to cool for about 5 minutes, slice and and serve.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmm, mmmmmmmmmmm good, this is one of the reasons my wife still keeps me around!

1 comment:

  1. Nice idea! Thanks for sharing this recipe it's definitely a really good reward for my brother who got his Food Safety Training last week. But still work on the dough first. I'm not really the cook-type but I'd like to do something special for him.