Thursday, October 30, 2014

Barbecue Chicken Pizza



One of my favorite pizzas at the popular Pappa Johns pizzeria here in the US is the Hawaiian barbecue chicken pizza. Their's is covered in authentic barbecue sauce, grilled all-white chicken, hickory-smoked bacon and fresh sliced onions. It is then topped with sweet pineapple for a delicately tropical twist. I decided to attempt to recreate this pizza at home. I used my basic pizza crust recipe, added basil for a burst of freshness and red bell peppers for textural interest and a pop of color. In contrast, I omitted the onions because I don't like onions in my pizza. I also used chicken thighs instead of all-white chicken (I prefer the flavor of dark chicken meat) and omitted the bacon altogether. I used my made-from-scratch barbecue sauce in this recipe. If you couldn't be bothered making your own, I presume that your favorite store-bought brand would do. A lot of people don't get why I like pineapples on my pizza. It might be the burst of sweet, warm pineapple juice as you bite into the warm slice of pizza or the pleasant balance that the taste of sweet pineapple brings to a savory dish. I don't know. All I know is that my taste buds dig it. And if my taste buds like it, I love it ;) For that reason, pineapple chunks made it to this flavor party. Here's how it's made....


Serving Size: Feeds four comfortably (2 decent slices each).


Equipment:

-Large mixing bowl.

-Wooden spoon.

-Pizza pan or pizza stone (I used an oven-safe pizza stone).

-Ladle.


INGREDIENTS FOR THE PIZZA CRUST:

-2 1/4 cups all purpose flour.

-1 teaspoon salt (I use Kosher).

-1 envelope pizza crust yeast (can be found in the baking aisle of your local grocery. With this yeast, you don't have to wait long for dough to rise).

-1 tablespoon honey OR 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar.

-3/4 cup warm water (120-180 degrees Fahrenheight).

-3 tablespoons regular olive oil.

-3 tablespoons plain yoghurt.


Other Ingredients:

-3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs.

-1/2 a bell pepper/ capsicum, cubed (I used red bell pepper. Use any color of your choice).

-1 cup very ripe pineapples, cut into chunks. You can use fresh or canned pineapples (I used canned pineapples, in 100% pineapple juice).

-1 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese (because it melts, bubbles and browns better than any other cheese, making it perfect for pizza). I didn't have plain mozzarella cheese on hand, so I used a blend of cheeses used for pizza (mozzarella, provalone, permesan and Romano).

-A handful of fresh basil, cut into long, thin strips using the chiffonade technique (stack the basil ontop of each other, roll them up like a cigar and slice thinly).

-1/2 cup semolina flour (to sprinkle on your pizza pan or pizza stone. This will prevent your pizza from sticking to your pan/stone).






INSTRUCTIONS FOR PREPARING THE PIZZA DOUGH:

-In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, yeast and salt (do not put the salt directly on the yeast as it will kill the yeast and your dough won't rise).

-Add the honey, yoghurt, olive oil and water.

-Mix with a wooden spoon just until it comes together, then lightly flour a clean surface and continue kneading with your hands until the dough is smooth (around 4 minutes). The dough will be slightly sticky.

-Lighty grease the same mixing bowl you previously used, shape the dough into a ball and place it in the greased bowl. Lightly roll the ball of dough around in the greased mixing bowl to coat it with oil. Cover the mixing bowl with a fitting lid or cling foil and set aside as you work on the toppings.


Ingredients For The Barbecue Sauce:

-1/4 cup unsalted butter or margarine (4 tablespoons).

-1 cup tomato ketchup.

-1/4 cup honey.

-1/3 cup water.

-1/2 cup cider vinegar.

-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice.

-1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce.

-1 tablespoon unsulphured molasses (find this in the baking aisle of your grocery store). For my Swahili speakers, this is just liquid "Sukari Nguru".

-1 teaspoon ground mustard.

-1 tablespoon onion powder.

-1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder.

-1 teaspoon liquid smoke. This is optional. Find it in the section in your grocery store with the barbecue sauces.

-1 bay leaf.

-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger.

-1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika.


Instructions For Making the Barbecue Sauce:

-In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt your butter or margarine.

-Add the rest of the barbecue sauce ingredients into the saucepan. Stir. Once the sauce comes to a boil, remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside.

Note: This sauce can keep, covered, in the fridge for upto 1 week.


Instructions For Cooking Your Chicken:

-Bring your griddle pan or outdoor grill to medium-high heat and coat lightly with cooking spray or oil.

-Generously season your chicken pieces on both sides with salt and pepper (according to your taste). 

-Place your chicken thighs flat on the griddle or grill and do not disturb for at least 2 minutes (this will allow the griddle marks to form on the surface of the chicken). Grill chicken until cooked through and no longer pink on the inside (around 5 minutes per side). Once you've turned the chicken to the other side to cook, brush the cooked side with some of the barbecue sauce for extra flavor. Make sure to brush both sides. Once cooked, allow the chicken to rest before you cut it into pieces as you begin to assemble your pizza.



Assembling Your Pizza:

***Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (220 degrees Celcius)****

**If you are using a pizza stone, sprinkle it's surface with semolina flour before you proceed to the next step. If you are using a pizza pan, lightly spray it's surface with non-stick cooking oil**


-Using clean hands, shape the pizza dough into a circle, conforming to the shape of either your pizza pan or pizza stone. Pay close attention to leave a "lip" around the perimeter (the raised edges of the pizza, in order for your toppings not to spill out during baking. See image below.


-Using a ladle, spoon some of the barbecue sauce onto the surface of the prepared pizza dough. Use the back of the ladle to smooth and distribute the sauce evenly over the surface.


-Add the fresh basil next.

-Next, sprinkle half the cheese onto the uncooked pizza.

-Cut your prepared chicken thighs into bite-size pieces and place the pieces on the pizza (as much or as little as you'd like).

-Fill any spaces with the  bell pepper/capsicum and pineapple chunks. It should look like this...


-Lastly, sprinkle the uncooked pizza with the rest of the cheese. Bake the pizza in the lowest rack of the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is slightly browned. 


-Allow the pizza to cool for at least 8 minutes before you enjoy.