Friday, July 31, 2009

Pulled Chicken Pizza...

If you just glance at the recipe for this week's Friday Night Pizza, Pulled Chicken Pizza, it may look fairly lengthy and complicated. Don't let that fool you though, it's not difficult nor does it take forever to prepare, especially since I was able to get everything together while the homemade whole-wheat dough was off rising!

The chicken eventually goes into a saucy dip before being scatted onto the pizza, but we wanted to give it as much potential as possible. Rather than just salt and pepper, a gentle-spiced smoky rub composed of dark brown sugar, smoked paprika, chili powder, cumin, chipotle chile pepper, salt and a touch of ground ginger was dusted over a pound of chicken thighs. Rubbed into all the nooks and crannies of the dark meat, this mixture does have a little bite to it, but nothing more than just a tingle thanks to the sweet contrast.

Grilled to cook through, the juicy thighs were set aside to cool while I kept myself busy preparing the sauce. To a bit of finely chopped onion, softened of course, we mimicked some of the same spices as the above rub so the chicken and sauce would meld well, but we wanted to hit a few other notes. You'll find the same dark brown sugar and chili powder, but this time a bit of garlic, dry mustard, allspice and cayenne went in, along with ketchup, broth, cider vinegar (for that tang you expect) and just a drizzle of molasses for a robust snap. Somewhat loose right off the bat, the sauce was brought to a boil, then turned down to simmer to tighten itself up so it would cling to a spoon, but still have some flow to it.

By now, the dough was almost ready to work with and the chicken had cooled down enough to easily shred to pieces. Which meant it was ready to jump into the sauce to get thoroughly coated! As this is a fairly moist topping, once the dough had been stretched out, we slid it onto our well-used pizza stone to ensure it would hold up - you are not looking to cook it completely, just long enough to begin crisping up. Flipped over, the saucy chicken was smeared over the golden top, then scattered with mozzarella cheese - add as much cheese as you like as we were fairly conservative... we were looking for the filling to shine more than the cheese this time!

Baked once more to finish off the crust and melt the cheese, figure in a few minutes resting time to give the sauce coating the chicken a chance settle before you slice in with your pizza cutter (though we use one of those fancy pizza rocker blades as it makes life easier and works well for bar cookies too!). A good marriage between sweet and spicy, the combo of lip-smacking sauce and seasoned chicken definitely did not disappoint and was a fun way to top off a pizza! If you are not into dark meat, you could use chicken breasts instead, but do note you'll want to keep a closer eye on them during grilling to be sure they are still plenty moist. Double the recipe and use half of it to make the pizza one night, then use the leftover sauced meat a day or two later in a few toasted buns, with your favorite add-ons, for a wicked good sandwich!

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