Friday, April 09, 2010


BBQ chicken pizza is apparently the most popular offering at California Pizza Kitchen (at least, according to the website), but I’ve never been tempted to order it. (I will admit to liking CPK just fine and, although we don’t go there very often, I have definite favorites: the wild mushroom pizza and the garlic chicken pizza—although neither is as good as my former favorite, which was sadly retired a few years ago). I like barbecue fine at venues that specialize in it, but not enough to order something with “BBQ” in the title at an ordinary chain restaurant when there are other, more vegetable-y things available. And when I saw a copycat recipe of the CPK superstar on The Pioneer Woman Cooks, I wouldn’t ordinarily have been that excited by the idea of making my own BBQ chicken pizza at home—were it not for the three-quarters-full bottle of Arthur Bryant’s barbecue sauce sitting in my refrigerator for the past eight months, looking lost and lonely. I brought it back for A from my trip to KCMO, and I thought it a fine condolence prize for him not being able to experience that luscious pile of pork for himself, except that it turns out there’s not a whole lot for us to do with a bottle of barbecue sauce considering that we don’t ever barbecue. A loves condiments of all sorts and usually keeps a bottle of BBQ sauce in the fridge for dipping oven fries or whatnot into, so I guess I thought he’d use it for that, but occasional snacking barely made a dent in the supply. So: BBQ chicken pizza, the perfect solution.

The recipe I ended up making is an amalgam of Pioneer Woman’s and multiple variants of the “official” recipe available on the Internet. PW didn’t include smoked Gouda in hers, and a number of the comments pointed out that it’s a key ingredient of the CPK one, so I went ahead and added some; it does lend a really nice flavor (well, actually, Trader Joe’s didn’t have smoked Gouda, so I used a “smoked Dutch cheese” that I suspect was pretty much the same thing). Since I had some leftover precooked chicken in the freezer waiting to be used, I went ahead with the “official” method of just tossing it with a little barbecue sauce; however, if I were starting with raw chicken I’d definitely use PW’s clever method of cooking it in the sauce for a more baked-in flavor. Also, both the “official” recipe and PW’s make two smallish pizzas, but I wanted to make one standard one, so I ended up eyeballing the ingredient quantities. I’ve done my best to replicate this below, but go with whatever looks good to you. The nice thing about pizza is that you don’t need to be very precise. Just don’t leave out the cilantro—it adds an unexpected flavor twist that kicks everything up.

I still have at least ½ cup of Arthur Bryant’s sauce left in the bottle, so I’ll definitely be making this at least one more time. After that, though, I’d probably still make this again. It might not become my very favorite pizza, but it was easy, zippy-tasting, a good way to use up orphaned cooked chicken, and a nice change from my other recipes. (Needless to say, A really loved it.) If I do keep making it, though, I’ll either have to find a good barbecue sauce available locally or try making my own—which I've been looking for an excuse to do anyway...

UPDATE, September 2012: If you want to make your own barbecue sauce for this pizza, here's a tasty and easy recipe adapted from A Good Appetite:

⅔ cup ketchup (preferably organic, no high-fructose corn syrup)
⅓ cup water
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1–2 tablespoons brown sugar

Mix all ingredients together in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring from time to time, until reduced slightly and darkened in color, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

1 pound pizza dough
1–2 whole boneless, skinless, chicken breasts or an equivalent amount of precooked (e.g., rotisserie) chicken (about 5–10 ounces)
½–¾ cup barbecue sauce
1–1½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons shredded smoked Gouda cheese
1 small red onion, sliced very thin
Chopped cilantro to taste

1. If you are using raw chicken breasts, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place chicken breasts in an ovenproof dish and pour about ½ cup barbecue sauce over them, turning them over to coat both sides. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove from oven and cut into a fine dice. If you are using precooked chicken, shred it or cut it into fine dice, then toss in a small bowl with about 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce.

2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

3. Roll/stretch out pizza dough on a baking sheet coated in a little olive oil or cornmeal. Spread a thin layer of barbecue sauce over the crust (about ¼ cup, or to taste). Top sauce with half the mozzarella and all the Gouda. Sprinkle on the diced chicken and thinly sliced red onion, then top with the remaining mozzarella.

4. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and toppings are bubbly. Remove from the oven and sprinkle on plenty of chopped cilantro.

Serves: 4
Time: 1 hour 15 minutes if cooking chicken; 45 minutes if using precooked
Leftover potential: Good; if possible, heat up leftovers in the oven.

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