Thursday, August 8, 2013

Grilled Spicy BBQ Chicken (or Shrimp) Pizza

I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't love pizza. But while I had a tendency to crave a doughy, thick crust pizza in my younger days, now I'm all about the crispy Neapolitan-style. Madison has a number of delicious Neapolitan style pizza places which I enjoy frequenting, though sadly there's no way to get that 900 degree wood-fired deliciousness at home. But making pizza on the grill, be it gas or charcoal, isn't a half-bad substitute. The crust cooks quickly, achieving the glorious bubbles and blackened spots of a Neapolitan oven, picking up a wonderful smokiness from charcoal or wood chips. But that's where the similarity to Neapolitan pizza ends in this recipe. If I'd added the classic basil, tomatoes, and buffalo mozzarella I might be able to pass this off as in the Neapolitan spirit, but my choice of toppings take this in a very different direction.

Barbecue chicken pizza, which I believe was originally created by California Pizza Kitchen, has become a fairly standard (and beloved) menu option. The sweet-spicy barbecue sauce is a fine substitute for the regular tomato variety, a lovely companion to sharp red onion, spicy jalapeno, juicy chicken, and rich cheddar cheese. If your genes aren't working against you, cilantro adds a lovely fresh note, but feel free to leave it off if you'll be serving cilantro-haters.

Grilled Spicy BBQ Chicken (or Shrimp) Pizza
serves 1

4 ounces whole wheat pizza dough
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce (I used Howling Wolf)
2 tablespoons finely chopped or thinly sliced red onion
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno pepper (add seeds or ribs to desired level of heat)
1/4 cup shredded cooked chicken breast (or cooked, chopped shrimp)
1 to 2 ounces (1/4 to 1/2 cup) shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat a gas grill over medium to medium high heat. Meanwhile, roll pizza out on a into a round or oblong shape, about 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick, depending on desired thickness, and brush both sides with oil.

2. When grill is hot, transfer crust to grill. Replace the lid and cook for 3 minutes without disturbing. After 3 minutes, check the crust for doneness, cooking for an additional few minutes if necessary. Transfer crust to a peel or baking sheet.

3. Spread crust with barbecue sauce and top with onion, jalapeno, and chicken. Sprinkle cheese over the top and return the pizza to the grill. Reduce heat to medium low, replace cover, and continue to cook until cheese is melted, about 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle cilantro over the top, if desired. Slice and serve promptly.

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