Sunday, March 2, 2014

Recipe Review: BBQ Chicken Pizza by The Turquoise Home

Cooking this week has been disappointing. Monday's bland chicken and mushy rice, and Tuesday's reading disaster left both of us unsatisfied at the end of the night. I know this sort of thing is always a risk when trying out new recipes, but cooking is primarily about pleasing those who eat the food.

Yes, I like to learn about new ingredients and techniques, but I mostly want to eat those delicious things!

Wednesday night was another new recipe. BBQ Chicken Pizza from The Turquoise Home. Being a fan of straight up pepperoni pizza, I never order BBQ pizza when doing take out or delivery. About the only time I've ever tried this flavor combination is when having a slice at Cici's pizza. (For the Canadians out there, it's basically a place to get super cheap pizza in a buffet/all-you-can-eat style.)

Find the recipe here!
Still, I'm a fan of using ingredients from the fridge as much as possible instead of constantly buying foods and throwing them out. A few weeks ago we tried Kludgy Mom's Slow Cooker Ribs and only used half a bottle of BBQ sauce. I also needed cilantro for Tuesday's Red Curry Lentils, and bacon is a staple in this house. 

That means I only needed to buy some Mozzarella, which would also be used for Saturday Night's "Survival Rations" (more on that later), and some chicken. As mentioned on the menu post, we found a lovely smoked chicken at European Quality Meats.

So, how was it?

First, I'll say I didn't really follow the recipe. I mean, it's pizza. Laura even says the pizza is easily customized, so I used her recipe as a template. Here are my changes:

  • Used smoked chicken breast instead of plain cooked or leftover shreds
  • Used super thinly sliced, raw, yellow onion, instead of sauteed, chopped onions
  • Topped the cheese with a few good shakes of Red Pepper flakes
  • Used a different dough recipe for the crust

The last change deserves an explanation. The original dough called for an entire tablespoon of yeast and only 5 minutes of rise. My previous experience working with breads and doughs comes mostly from Peter Reinhart's excellent tome, The Bread Baker's Apprentice. Pizza dough isn't a quick bread, like banana bread. Giving the dough time to relax and rise imparts flavor and texture to the crumb.
The single biggest flaw in most pizza dough recipes is the failure to instruct the maker to allow the dough to rest overnight in the refrigerator (or at least for a long time). This gives the enzymes time to go to work, pulling out subtle flavor trapped in the starch. The long rest also relaxes the gluten, allowing you to shape the dough easily, minimizing the elastic springiness that so often forces you to squeeze out all of the gas. (Reinhart, p 209)
Wanting a flavorful pizza crust is a matter of opinion however. Not everyone cares as long as there are scrumptious toppings! Personally, I had the time and the desire. So, I opted to use a more "formal" dough recipe. Being somewhat short on time, I opted for the Basic Pizza Dough from Suzanne Dunaway's wonderful No Need to Knead.

It only calls for a teaspoon of yeast, and since there's only two of us, I cut the recipe in half. The dough took about 5 minutes to put together and set up in an oiled, covered bowl, then I just let it do its thing for about an hour and a half.

If I had been more thoughtful, I would have made the dough the night before, and let it slow-rise in the fridge for extra flavor. Dunaway's crust was easy to work with, and even after only 90 minutes of rising, still had a nice flavor.

As for the rest of the pizza?

Wonderful! And as tiny as an ingredient as it might be, do not leave out the cilantro! The smoked chicken was great, no doubt, but this is a recipe where you might end up with 6 different flavors all battling for control of your taste buds unless the right six ingredients are used. The cilantro helps the creamy Mozzarella, sweet BBQ sauce, and salty bacon all work together in a lovely flavor explosion.

We devoured the pizza with a really nice bottle of white. Wallaroo Trail is a Chardonnay blend from Australia and Canada. Kind of fruity for me, kind of dry for the husband. It only ran about $10 at the Wine Rack! So, great bargain and tasty wine for a wonderful pizza.

This pizza is definitely going into rotation. I can easily prep the ingredients a day ahead if I want and stick them in the fridge. Spreading out the dough and topping the pizza probably took 10 minutes, tops.

Thank you Laura at The Turquoise Home for a great, simple recipe with a fantastic flavor combination!

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