Tonight's dinner was chicken pizza. What? Of course chicken goes on pizza! Chicken was on sale at my local grocery and the other ingredients were already in the pantry or fridge, so it's a no-brainer.
Pizza is too hard at home? Nonsense! It's quick, easy, only uses one bowl, one frying pan and a pizza baking sheet (or a cookie sheet if that's what you have on hand - pizzas don't need to be round! Really.)
Let's get to it! Update to follow with process pictures the next time we have pizza. Do read to the end before you get started...
First, preheat the oven to 420 degrees.
The crust -
1/2 cup + 1 TBSP hot water (tap is fine, but it should be very warm)
1 TBSP yeast (or one packet if you buy it that way)
1 TBSP sugar (use a regular large eating spoon - you don't need special measuring spoons)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp each basil and oregano (optional)
2 + cups flour (whole wheat or white or a combination of the two)
1 tsp cornmeal for the baking surface
Put yeast and sugar into a medium bowl and pour the water over them. Stir well and let sit for 5 minutes. Foam should form on the surface of the mixture. If it doesn't, toss it out and start again with fresh yeast. This is called "proofing" the yeast, that is, making sure it's still alive. If it's not, the crust will taste of dead yeast and not bake properly. It should look something like this after 5-10 minutes -
The meat center -
2 TBSP olive oil (olive oil is the best, but you can use canola or vegetable oil if that's what's on hand)
Onion (to taste. 1/4 cup is enough for one pizza)
Garlic (the more the better! We like a whole head. You might like less. Roasting tutorial another day)
Mushrooms (if desired) Cut to whatever size you like best. Smaller pieces are easier to eat without falling out.
Black pepper (to taste)
Chicken (boneless, skinless breast is easiest, but you can use any cut. If there are bones, they must of course be removed and the meat shredded before adding to the pizza. This is a great opportunity to use up leftover chicken scraps.)
Put oil into a medium frying pan and heat on medium while you cut the onion as small as you like. Fry the onion for a few minutes while you cut up the garlic as small as you like. Add garlic to the pan, then the mushrooms and add a bit of black pepper and give the whole thing a stir.
Turn the heat under the frying pan down to low while you deal with the dough. Prepare the pizza pan by rubbing a bit of oil onto it and sprinkling some cornmeal evenly across the surface to help prevent sticking. If you don't have cornmeal, spray with cooking spray and call it good until you stock up on cornmeal.
Give the dough a few kneads and then roll it out with a rolling pin to a uniform thickness on your floured surface. If you're using a cookie sheet, any old shape will do. If you're using a round pizza-type pan, roll it out approximating round, put it on the pan and then shape with your fingers to bring it out to the edges of the pan. It's not critical and will taste just as good if it's not perfectly round.
Bake the crust for about 10 minutes, or until it's a bit brown around the edges. Watch it fairly closely and use a fork to pierce any air bubbles that form. When the crust is as done as you like, take it out of the oven and set aside until the filling is ready.
Meanwhile, cut/shred the chicken. The meat should be fairly small so it doesn't fall of the pizza as you eat it. When the onion is clear, the mushrooms browned and the garlic is fragrant, add the chicken. If you're using pre-cooked chicken, it will take only a couple of minutes to heat up and absorb the flavor from the onion and garlic - raw chicken will take longer, but do cook it until it is done through. Remove from the heat and prop the pan up so the juices run off to one side, away from the meat. If the meat mixture is too wet when it goes onto the crust, you'll end up with a soggy mess that, while it tastes good, will have to be eaten with a fork.
The sauce - store bought pizza or pasta sauce tastes good and if you can find it on sale, all the better! We like all of the varieties Newman's Own. If you prefer to make your own sauce, a recipe can be found on my other blog. Updates to come!
Spoon the sauce onto the crust and spread it out to the edges. Too much sauce will make a soggy pizza, so go easy. Add the meat mixture next and spread it evenly out to the edges. Next comes mozzarella cheese - piles and piles ;-) On top of the cheese you can add whatever toppings to like best - more mushrooms, olives, artichoke hearts, onion rounds sliced thin, tomatoes, even fresh veggies.
When the pizza is topped to your heart's content, put it in the oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and a bit brown. Cut and enjoy!