Saturday, July 25, 2009

Chicken Fajita Pizza

We're all about Southwestern style these days...

Long ago in New Hampshire, we drove through a small town one evening during lilac time. Both sides of the little main street were lined with huge lilac bushes and the scent at dusk was almost unbelievably delicious. We stopped to wander around a bit and found a little pizza place where I had my first chicken fajita pizza. I have been trying to reproduce the experience ever since.

Although we now live far away from New Hampshire, I've got my lilac planted out by the deck, waiting for it to bloom some spring. But the pizza part has been getting closer to the original over the years, although it has acquired a bit of southwest flavor along the way. We had this slightly New Mexican-style version for supper last night and I think it might have been the best pizza I have ever made.

1 whole uncooked skinless chicken breast, cut into thin strips
4 tbl. lime juice
4 tbl. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped fine
1 tsp. chile powder

1 sweet onion (Vidalia-type), thinly sliced
2 bell peppers--green, red, yellow, orange, or a combination; thinly sliced
Salsa (your choice of style and heat)
Grated cheese (Monterey Jack is really good on this pizza)

1 tbl. dry yeast
Tiny, tiny pinch of sugar
1/4 cup warm water

1 cup warm water
2 tbl. olive oil
1 tbl. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 cups flour

Place the chicken strips, 4 tbl. olive oil, lime juice, garlic, and chile powder in a bowl to marinate. Stir well and set aside while you prepare the dough.

Dissolve the yeast and the tiny pinch of sugar in the 1/4 cup of water.

Mix the cup of warm water with the 2 tbl. olive oil, 1 tbl. sugar, salt, and about half the flour in the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the yeast mixture (this is in bold print because I have been known to forget this step). Beat well for a couple of minutes. Slowly add the remaining flour with the mixer on slow speed, using the dough hook.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Divide in half, roll out, and stretch each piece to fit a round pizza pan. Brush each with a little oil.

Saute the onions and peppers just until the onion is transparent and the peppers are glossy. Remove them from the pan and stir-fry the chicken mixture until all pink is gone. Don't overcook the chicken as it will have some time in a hot oven to finish cooking.

This would be a good point to turn on the oven. Preheat to 450˚ with the racks in the center or a little above center.

Spread each circle of dough with as much salsa as you like. I use about 4 tbl. per pizza. Divide the vegetables and spread those evenly on each pizza. Do the same with the chicken. Sprinkle all with your preferred amount of cheese.

Bake at 450˚ for 18 minutes.

1) You can, of course, just buy prepared pizza dough and make a pretty good pizza out of it, but I won't have as much fun thinking of you making it that way.
2) I divide the dough in half, freeze one part of it, and make just one pizza at a time. As an empty-nester, it took me an awfully long time to learn to cut recipes this way.

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