Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Chicken and Spinach Pizza

Some people are intimidated by homemade pizza because it may come across as a lot of work that produces somewhat of an imperfect result. Let me tell you 2 tips to a great pizza that never fails me: a great dough and a perfect balance and proportion in the filling. It sounds obvious but I'll try to explain it a bit further.

Most people would say that they enjoy what is on the crust more than the crust itself, so when it comes to homemade pizza, they overload the pizza with lots of ingredients. Just because you enjoy the crust a bit less doesn't mean it doesn't contribute to the overall flavour of the pizza. You'd be surprised how important the dough is, and how amazing the pizza tastes when the dough is done right.

2 tsp yeast
1 1/2 cups of water
3 3/4- 4 cups flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil

Combine the 3 1/2 cups of flour, sugar, salt and the yeast in a mixing bowl. Microwave the water for 50 seconds until it is luke warm. Add the oil into the water, stir, then pour into the flour mixture. Mix on low until all the flour is incorporated then add in the remaining half cup as needed. Knead on medium for 8-10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Take it out of the mixer and mix by hand for a minute then place in an oiled bowl. Let it proof for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.

When the dough has doubled, punch it down. Separate it into 2 equal parts and place in 2 oiled bowls to rise again. Work on the filling while you wait for the 2nd rise.

My favorite pizza toppings are spicy salami and bacon. I had either on hand so I made a chicken and spinach pizza instead. Not that this is inferior to bacon and salami, but I like my pizza with huge flavours and chicken deliver as well compared to the other two. To make up for the flavour, I sprinkle on a few pinches of garlic powder, hot sauce, salt and pepper.

Marinara sauce or spaghetti sauce
2 chicken thighs (per pizza)
2 oz of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1.5 cup of grated or cubed mozzarella
Frank's hot sauce
Garlic powder
Salt and pepper

You can use any kind of left over chicken. I didn't have any so I cooked some chicken thighs. I just fried them for 3-4 minutes on each side then finished them in a 350 oven for about 10 minutes. Pull the meat off and cut them into bite sized pieces.

Check on your dough after a couple of hours to see if it has doubled. Most recipes will tell you to punch it down at this moment, but don't. Working the dough now will just make it hard to roll it out. And by rolling out, I don't mean a rolling pin.

While the dough is still in the bowl, flour the top really well. Invert it onto your hand and flour the other side with your free hand. Place it on your work top and press the middle with your fingers, making dimples all over. 

When it takes on a round and flat shape, pick it up with your hands then slip your hands under the dough in the form of fists. Using your knuckles, stretch the dough then rotate, stretch and rotate. If the edges are too thick then pick up the dough at it's edge and stretch just that part of it.

Either way, make sure you stretch and rotate at a fairly fast pace. I've never had dough break on me before, and you shouldn't if the dough has been properly kneaded and rested. It should be a perfect round when you are done with it. 
(I'm using pictures from summer 2011 since I had no one to take pictures for me this time.)

Use about 3-4 tbsps of marinara sauce and spread it all over the pizza. Sprinkle on hot sauce, salt and pepper, and garlic powder. I also put a layer of cheese at this point for no particular reason.

Place your chicken and spinach evenly on top.

Cover with more cheese. I also added some Parmesan for flavour.

 Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, rotating half way.
The best pizza is made from a combination of good dough and filling. Once I get the proper ingredients, I'll post my favorite topping recipe. Enjoy!

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