Barbecue chicken pizza is easily my favorite kind of pizza ever. It’s near and dear to my heart, and has become one of my favorite comfort foods. That’s why I thought it deserved its own post, because there are some important tricks to making it right. I’ve had some pretty lackluster bbq chicken pizzas in my day, but my version has never received anything but enthusiastic responses. So congratulations, dinner tonight is gonna be awesome.
The main problems with not-so-good barbecue chicken pizzas are 1) bad crusts, 2) weak sauce, and 3) not enough/not very tasty chicken. These are pretty big fouls when it comes to this amazing dish, but the good news is that it’s well within your ability to correct these errors and make an amazing pie. So here’s some tips:
Crust – don’t skimp on the crust. Make it yourself, or at the very least buy it in raw dough form (but homemade will be better). Nothing makes a great pizza like a bready, chewy, amazing homemade crust.
Sauce – don’t skimp on this either. Use it as the base instead of tomato sauce, and make sure the chicken gets cooked with some of it as well. I’d avoid the syrupy-sweet Kansas style sauces in favor of something a little lighter and vinegary (but still thick and spreadable). If you know how to make your own, even better.
Chicken – treat it with the same love you would if you were grilling it (in fact, you can even go outside and grill it for an even better flavor). Marinade it a little, cook it hot, and make sure you get some flavor from your sauce in there toward the end of the cooking process. Using thighs instead of breast meat will ensure the chicken pieces won’t dry out, if you’re worried about that.
Cheese – anything will work, so if all you have is plain mozzarella, go with it. But the flavor will only improve if you can find something more interesting like aged provolone or parmesan or asiago. I kind of cheat and get the bags of “Italian” shredded mixes that have four or five kinds of cheese, but for a really classy pie you can search out some quality cheeses separately.
Spices – spices seem like a frill, but they actually make the difference between a boring pizza with chicken on it and a barbecue gourmet experience. I’ve found that oregano in particular really complements the pizza flavors, but basil, fresh-ground pepper, parsley, etc. are great choices as well.
Follow these techniques and you can’t go wrong. Oh yeah– make sure you cook it hot. Something in the neighborhood of 450°F is a great temp for pizza, especially if you have access to a baking stone to cook it on. The hotter you cook something like this, the more variety in color and texture you achieve, which makes a fantastic pizza.
So there you have it. Those are the best tips I know for making the best pizza I’ve eaten, and you’ll do well to follow them. On to the recipe!
Barbecue Chicken Pizza Recipe
1 recipe pizza dough:
3 cups bread flour, give or take
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tb olive oil
1 large chicken breast, or 2-3 thighs
barbecue sauce to cover pizza, plus more for the chicken
1-2 cups cheese, shredded
1/2 medium onion (optional)
spices to taste such as oregano, basil, pepper, parsley
Make the pizza dough normally. If you don’t know how to make dough, check out this post on mixing and kneading dough for a more in-depth look. Put the dough in an oiled and covered bowl and allow to rise to double its size (usually takes around an hour).
In the meantime, deal with the chicken. It’s actually helpful for toppings to be cooled down when you put them on your pizza, so you can do this as early as you want. Come up with a marinade if you have the time, even 30 minutes will add a lot of flavor. Use something in the neighborhood of Italian dressing, or mix some oil and vinegar and some spices. It’s pretty easy. If you’re using chicken breast, slice it lengthwise to make several thinner fillets so more of the surface area gets exposed to the marinade and cooking process.
Heat a metal skillet or grill pan to pretty high heat (I like cast iron for this, in particular the awesome deep grill pan I got a few years ago). When it’s super hot, lay your chicken pieces on the pan and leave them alone. You want to get a lot of good color and even some charring on the meat before turning it. (Again, you could do all this on an outdoor grill as well, it will be awesome).
Once you have some good searing on one side of the chicken, flip it over and cook the other side.
When the second side has some color as well, remove the chicken from the heat.
Let it cool for a few minutes, then slice into small bite-size pieces.
Optional: I usually then sautee some onions in a small pan, and then throw the chicken pieces in with them to cook a little more. I’ll add a little bit of the sauce to mix into the onions and meat and let it cook off a little. If you’re not using the onions or don’t want to do this extra step, just toss the chicken pieces in a little sauce before topping. I think it makes a difference to do it my way though.
Make the pizza: make your pie the normal way: roll/toss your dough into a circular shape, then poke holes all over to prevent bubbling.
Spread generously with sauce, followed by the cheese. Spread your chicken evenly over the surface, and finish with some spices.
Bake at 450°F until the dough is crusty and the cheese is fairly browned.
Remove from oven and make sure to let it cool for at least five minutes, or else it’ll be a mess when you cut it.
Enjoy the best pizza you’ve ever eaten.
There you go! Kind of a long post for something as “basic” as pizza, but I think it’s worth going into detail sometimes for the sake of quality and enjoying the cooking process. Thanks for trying it out!
Till next time, foodies.