Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chicken Pesto Pizza

I am proud to say that this recipe is one of the best things I have ever made, if not THE best thing I have ever made! After Chris tried the pizza, he told me we should open a pizza shop haha! (WE?? I don't remember US making the pizza...I remember me making it and him sitting on the couch watching ESPN). While my cooking skills are nowhere near the professional opening a restaurant worthy, it was a nice compliment! It was just a few months ago when I was so discouraged with my horrid cooking skills that I was ready to throw in the towel and eat take out, frozen dinners, and ham steak every night. Now that I'm starting to enjoy cooking and the return results, I still do not enjoy the cleanup. So, being the crafty, witty wife that I am, I have convinced Chris that if I'm going to the trouble of making a meal for him, he should have to clean up after the mess (and believe me, the kitchen is a hot mess after I'm done...we are talking tornado here people). I still think he is getting the better part of the deal here because cooking definitely takes longer than cleaning up. Plus, Chris is used to picking up after my mess (a tragic result of my dad spoiling me and picking up after me my whole life). He's a wonderful cleaner-uper! Aren't spouses supposed to compliment each others weaknesses in the first place?!

I found the crust recipe on Annie's blog. Annie said it's the best pizza crust and boy was she right. I've made homemade pizza crust a few other times with different recipes and this crust was by far the best. This is going to be my go-to crust from here on out. I always get a little nervous when I make homemade pizza crust because I worry about the yeast rising properly and ruining the whole dough. I followed the recipe very carefully and had success. Yay! Since I am on a new health food kick, I substituted the white flour for whole wheat flour. The flavor was still great. I used the recipe to make two large crusts, but you could make three medium crusts with it instead. California Pizza Kitchen has a great chicken pesto pizza, so I tried to emmulate that recipe somewhat. This pizza was so good, the two of us ate an entire large pizza! Oink oink!

1/2 cup warm water
1 envelope (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups (22 ounces) bread flour, plus more for dusting work surface and hands
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Olive oil or nonstick cooking spray for oiling the bowl
Corn meal (optional) for dusting work surface

1. Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add the room-temperature water and oil and stir to combine.

(I Omitted steps 2 & 3 - see below method I used)
2. Process the flour and salt in a large food processor, pulsing to combine. Continue pulsing while pouring the liquid ingredients (holding back a few tablespoons) through the feed tube. If the dough does not readily form into a ball, add the remaining liquid and continue to pulse until a ball forms. Process until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 30 seconds longer.

3. The dough will be a bit tacky, so use a rubber spatula to turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead by h and for a few strokes to form a smooth, round ball. Put the dough into a deep oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.

Pizza Dough Kneaded by Hand
Follow the recipe for Pizza Dough through step 1. Omit step 2 and instead combine the salt and half the flour in a deep bowl. Add the liquid ingredients and use a wooden spoon to combine. Add the remaining flour, stirring until a cohesive mass forms. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic 7 to 8 minutes, using as little dusting flour as possible while kneading. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and proceed with the recipe.

Pizza Dough Kneaded in a Standing Mixer (this is the method I chose)
Follow the recipe for Pizza Dough through step 1. Omit step 2 and instead place the flour and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle. Briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms. Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and proceed with the toppings of choice.

Toppings I used:
(in order)
Pesto (homemade - see previous entry)
Mozzerella cheese
Grilled chicken cut in slices (I used a Trader Joe's pre-cooked pack to save time)
Pine nuts

Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes or so.

Source: Annie's originally from Baking Illustrated

No comments:

Post a Comment