Friday, September 11, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Last month I made my first homemade pizza dough, and it changed my life. Well, perhaps I am exaggerating, but the truth is that since then I have been obsessed with making pizza.  The pizza stone that was still in its box a year after I bought it has taken up permanent residence in my oven, my list of bookmarked pizza recipes is growing at an alarming rate, and sometimes I find myself daydreaming about what I can put on a round of dough (roasted beets and goat cheese, yes please!).

This fascination with homemade pizza started with a recipe on my very favorite food blog, Smitten Kitchen (if you have not yet perused this site, well, what are you waiting for?).  Deb had posted a recipe for a zucchini and goat cheese pizza that rocketed to the top of my "Make Now!!" list.  I was a little intimidated by making my own crust, but Deb made it seem so easy that I decided to give it a whirl.  As it turns out, making pizza dough is ridiculously easy; you stir together some ingredients, knead them on the counter for a couple of minutes, then let the dough rise for a while.  The zucchini pizza was fantastic (goat cheese makes my heart sing!), and I have used the same crust recipe for a few different pizzas, including a traditional tomato and mozzarella, a garlicky white pizza (recipe coming), and this, a Buffalo chicken pizza.

I made this pizza for my friend Arthur, whom I met at the very beginning of our first year of college.  A bond that developed over Calculus homework deepened into a close friendship between two people with many mutual interests.  We shared a love of movies, staying up ridiculously late, and eating pizza and copious amounts of hot Buffalo wings.  I don't even want to think about how much pizza and wings we put away during our years in a tiny college town with limited dining options.

Of course it was inevitable that those two loves would come together in the culinary marriage that is Buffalo chicken pizza.  In the last ten or so years we have partaken in many a Buffalo chicken pizza, and consistency has been an issue.  I remember a particularly delicious incarnation in Troy, NY, but most of those pizzas were disappointing in the taste department.  This inconsistency, coupled with the fact that I've developed a conscience when it comes to chowing down on greasy, fatty foods, prompted my decision to forgo delivery and try my hand at making my own Buffalo chicken pizza when Arthur came to visit.

I am happy to report that this pizza was simple, delicious, and guilt free; Arthur and I didn't even miss the take out.  Now, I'm off to roast some beets...

Buffalo Chicken Pizza
This recipe is infinitely adaptable; you can play around with the amounts of hot sauce and cheese to suit your taste, or add additional toppings.  This makes a small pizza that serves two to three people.  I like to serve it with a big bowl of celery and carrots and blue cheese dressing for dipping.

1 recipe Smitten Kitchen's Really Simple Pizza Dough (I like to use 1 cup white flour, and 1/2 cup whole wheat)
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
Grill seasoning, or salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 to 1/3 cup hot sauce
2 oz. crumbled blue cheese
2 oz. mozzarella, shredded
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Cornmeal (optional)

Prepare pizza dough as directed.  While dough is rising, preheat a grill pan over medium heat.  Butterfly the chicken breast, and season with grill seasoning or salt and pepper.  Brush your heated grill pan with a thin layer of oil, and grill chicken, about 4 minutes per side, until cooked through.  You could also cook the chicken in a skillet, or use leftover chicken.  Remove chicken breast to a cutting board, and allow to rest before cutting into 3/4" cubes.  Toss chicken pieces with hot sauce in a small bowl.

After the dough has risen, punch down and let rest on the the counter, covered with plastic wrap, for 20 minutes.  Preheat your oven, with a pizza stone if available, to 450 degrees.  Once rested, roll and stretch your dough to a 12" circle.  Lay a piece of parchment paper on a pizza peel (or the back of a cookie sheet, as I do) and sprinkle with cornmeal, of desired.  Place your dough circle on the parchment, and top with chicken.  Sprinkle with blue cheese and mozzarella, and scatter pizza with scallions, holding a few aside for garnish.

Slide pizza onto preheated stone and bake until the crust is golden and puffed, and the cheese is bubbly and nicely browned, 10 to 15 minutes.  Transfer to cutting board and slice into 6 pieces.

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