It started out with a grocery trip. Then again, it always starts out with a grocery trip. Josh was hungry and I didn’t know what to cook. I hadn’t made a calzone in a while, so I would do that. Except, by the time theory came into practice, it had changed.
We purchased a couple things for these pizzas I was making.
I didn’t hesitate and immediately took the pans from the oven and started heating it. I started out at 375 F (190.5 C for those of you who use Celsius), but would end up with the oven at 400 F (205 C) by the time I was done.
I pulled a medium sized, deep bottom skillet from the cupboard and poured some oil in the bottom. While oil heated, I cleaned the chicken I was using and carefully added each piece to the pan.
I paid careful attention to the chicken and when it was no longer pink on the outside, emptied the diced tomatoes into the pan, lowered the heat and put a lid on it to cook.
When I began stretching out the dough for the pepperoni pizza, it was going to be a calzone at that point, but by the time I had finished putting pepperoni and cheese on it, there was no way I was going to be able to fold it. As such, I left it flat and put it into the oven.
Twenty-Five minutes later, the dough had turned golden brown around the edges, but I was more concerned with the concoction on the stove. The house had an excellent aroma. It warming and reminiscent of all the autumn evenings that I spent cooking dinner for my Gran and I. Where a pan of tomatoes, peppers and chicken sautéed over medium low heat with pasta cooking on another burner.
Turning my attention to the pizza, I pulled it from the oven, careful not to burn myself, and set it on a plate to cool. The aroma from the pizza brought back memories of watching mum in the kitchen as a kid. There were nights she would make home made pizza for dinner with the pizza stones she had and they always came out delicious. I would stand in wonder while she cooked, arms crossed, trying to discern how she shaped the dough into a perfect disk, stretching it across the stone with ease. If there’s one thing that my mum could never teach me, it was how to stretch pizza dough in a perfect circle across a pan or stone. It must be a mum thing.
Digressing, I began to work with the now-warm dough and stretch it on to the pan. In truth, this was harder than it sounded because the pan was still hot from having been in the oven, so I worked carefully. I drizzled olive oil atop the crust, rubbing it across the whole thing before adding the tomato and chicken mixture. This was where I ran into a problem. The pizza was topped with chicken and tomatoes, but I didn’t know if I had wanted to use the Mexican blend cheese I had at my disposal.
That very same cheese, the bag of four cheeses had caused quite the riff between Josh and I. When we were at the store, he told me he was “helping” me to hone my craft. I respect that. I don’t need an excuse to cook anyway, I enjoy it and if I were allowed to, I would cook all hours of the day and night. But when he told me that I didn’t need cheese because there was already cheese at his mum’s house, I looked at him like he was crazy. Did his mum have a big bag of mozzarella and other Italian cheeses in her fridge? Somehow, I doubted that. Yet, I went with it. I’m not always going to have the right ingredients for things and need to learn improvisation.
Going back to the kitchen- I pulled the container of Parmesan from the fridge and sprinkled it over top the chicken and tomatoes and then lightly added cheese from the bag of Mexican blend cheese. Stepping back, I admired my handiwork, it looked divine and smelled as such. I was careful when handling the pan and putting it back in the oven.
20 minutes later, the pan was back on the counter, cooling.
Having to wait before cutting into the pizza was awful. It smelled so good that I wanted to cut an odd shaped piece off and bite into it, but didn’t. When it cooled enough, I dragged a knife through the crust, and placed a piece on the plate.
I dunno if you eat your pizza with a fork and knife, but even if you don’t, I found it necessary to do so while I savoured each bite of the pizza. By the time there was just crust left, I picked up the piece and bit into it. It was perfect.
In the past, I’ve encountered that the crust is dry and you could crack your teeth biting into it, but this? It was chewy and cooked to perfection. Josh was so impressed by the crust that he even tried a piece of the pizza (he hates tomatoes, so this was a shock to me), absolutely adoring it.
Later on that afternoon, after the kitchen was clean and a lone plate with a single hunk of pizza sat on the stove, Josh’s mum called me into the kitchen. She was curious as to if we had ordered take away.
Yes, you read that right.
I took a moment and told her that no, we didn’t order takeout for lunch. I made that. She was impressed, exclaiming that it “looked professional” that she’d never “seen anything so delicious except for at a restaurant.” I took credit for my work, albeit modestly. I told her it wasn’t restaurant style, I can never get my dough in a perfect circular disk, that it’s always misshapen. But she insisted that it looked and smelled delicious. Her response when she ate it was that she’d never eaten anything so good.
It’s responses like that, where the person eating my cooking is besides themselves exclaiming that it’s delicious, that make me want to go into the restaurant world. To see people’s happiness upon that first bite, the way their eyes close savouring it, the “mmm” it makes me smile to bring happiness to others.
~An Accidental Recipe: Chicken Margharita Pizza~
Big enough to share, but you probably won’t want to because it’s so good.
- Olive Oil
- Dough (I fail to make dough, if you make yours, more power to you)
- 2 lbs (1 kg) boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1 (14.6 oz) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
- 1 cup Mexican Blend cheese
- In a deep bottomed skilled, heat oil until shimmering. Over medium-high heat add chicken and cook until no longer pink (about 2-3 minutes each side)
- When chicken is no longer pink, add in can of diced tomatoes. Cover and reduce heat. Let simmer 15-20 minutes untouched.
- Stir in 1 TBSP tomato paste until sauce is desired thickness.
- Remove pan from heat and shred chicken into bite sized chunks.
- Heat oven to 400 F (205 C).
- While mixture cools, stretch dough into a circular shape and lay on a lined pan or warmed pizza stone. Rub 2 TBSP olive oil over dough, making sure to get the edges.
- Spread tomato and chicken mixture atop the dough. Sprinkle cheese across the mixture.
- Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until crust is golden brown around the edges and cheese is bubbling.
- Allow pizza to cool 10 minutes before serving.
- Serve with favourite pizza extras (Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, blue cheese, hot sauce, etc) and enjoy!
Until next time