By now you should all be pretty familiar with my cooking style and food philosophy: you know I believe in fresh, unprocessed ingredients, sourced locally when possible (something I’m working on getting better at), that are cooked and presented in a slightly rustic and approachable manner. I like to use as few pots and pans as possible, keep the recipes uncomplicated and make most of the components from scratch.
It’s these last two points that had me thinking this weekend. Is it okay to use some store-bought ingredients that are possible to make myself in order to simplify a recipe? I did that with the BBQ chicken pizza in which I used (gasp) bottled BBQ sauce and pre-made pizza dough. I have to admit, making the pizza this way went pretty quickly and was probably cheaper than if I’d had to make all the ingredients from scratch, although personally I felt a bit like a cheater.
Guilt aside, the pizza was awesome! The idea came after I found sliced yogurt cheese at the grocery store last week. It’s lactose-free and is a little tangy, not quite like sheep’s milk – more like string cheese. And the texture is similar to string cheese as well. Anyways, I’ve been experimenting with the yogurt cheese all week, eating it on a salad, mixed with scrambled eggs, and even on its own as a snack. Now was the time to really test the cheese and see what it was made of! You know, besides milk.
The pizza came together quickly. First, I marinated the chicken tenders in BBQ sauce and baked them in the oven (TIP: you could easily substitute any cut of leftover baked or grilled chicken, just toss it with a little BBQ sauce). I caramelized the shallots while the chicken was cooking and chopped the remaining ingredients. All that was left to do was dice the chicken, roll out the pizza dough, add the toppings and bake the whole thing.
My single complaint was that the dough was a bit soggy after it was cooked, something I blame simply on my using a disposable pizza pan rather than one of those oh-so-cool pizza stones (I would have bought one except I’d have no where to store it). And the yogurt cheese… yes, it was a success!
BBQ Chicken Pizza
1/2 pound chicken tenders
1/4 cup BBQ sauce, divided
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
Salt & pepper
1 whole wheat or regular ball refrigerated pizza dough, room temperature
2 slices (2 ounces) yogurt cheese or mozzarella, thinly sliced or grated
1 scallion, green part only, thinly sliced
Toss the chicken tenders in 2 tablespoons BBQ sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 20 minutes up to 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and arrange the chicken tenders in a single layer. Bake, uncovered, until cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and set aside to cool. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, dice it into 1/4- to 1/2-inch cubes.
Caramelize the shallots while the chicken is baking: pour the oil into a small saute pan set over medium high heat. Add the shallots and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring every minute or so, until the shallots have become soft and turned golden brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
Increase the oven temperature to 425F. Lightly sprinkle a work surface with flour. Roll out the pizza dough until it is 1/4-inch thick, then transfer it to a pizza pan. Dock the dough with a fork and spread the remaining BBQ sauce evenly over the dough, then top with the diced chicken, caramelized shallots, cheese and scallions. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Bake the pizza until the crust has turned brown and the cheese has melted, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cut into slices. Enjoy!