Over twenty years ago, I met my favorite food on the planet and fell in love. My husband’s parents took us out for dinner when we visited them in southern California. They couldn’t wait to share their new favorite restaurant–California Pizza Kitchen. My in-laws were serious foodies, years before I had ever heard that term for the first time, so we knew we were in for a treat when they recommended we try the BBQ Chicken Pizza. It was love at first sight. My first bite confirmed it and sent me on a personal mission to make some of those flavors in my OWN kitchen.
Over the years, I’ve eaten a lot of BBQ Chicken Pizza in a lot of different pizza joints all over the country. Only the stuff I’ve made in my own kitchen measures up to that original vision. Of course, my original vision has done a little evolving over the years too!
So you start with a good crust; I like a medium thick sourdough crust for this pizza, baked on a pizza stone.
While the dough for the crust is rising, saute two boneless, skinless chicken breasts. When they’re almost cooked, cut them into cubes and finish simmering them in a little barbecue sauce. I like to use a smoky-flavored sauce; if I can get it, a mesquite smoked sauce is the best. Set the chicken aside.
Thinly slice a medium-sized red onion. Chop up about 1/2 bunch of cilantro. Grate 4 ounces of smoked gouda cheese and 4 ounces of mozzarella. Mix the two cheeses.
To assemble the pizza, start by spreading the crust.
Brush on a thin coat of the smoky barbecue sauce.
Evenly distribute the chopped, cooked chicken.
Add the sliced onion and the chopped cilantro.
Top with the grated cheese mixture.
Bake the pizza in an oven that’s been preheated to 450° until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the crust is brown. Check the underside of the crust to make sure it’s not still doughy.
My son, Michael, sometimes adds a thin layer of cornmeal under the dough so that he can slide the assembled pizza onto a preheated pizza stone that is already in the oven. This results in a much crispier crust. Putting the cheese on top of all the other ingredients helps keep the other ingredients moist.
Many different versions of this pizza exist. In fact, Laura HER version of BBQ Chicken Pizza a few years ago here on My Sister’s Kitchen. I must confess that we BOTH think that the other doesn’t REALLY make BBQ Chicken pizza correctly. I’m sure that the best approach is to make both versions and decide for yourself. 😉