Barbecue Chicken & Cheddar Pizza
Well, now you know. When I’m looking to turn a traditionally vegetable-free meal into a dinner I don’t have to make a side-dish vegetable to serve alongside, I automatically add some kale leaves to the soup or the pasta, or, here, the pizza.
There was an article on the wall in the pizzeria I went to growing up about how you could do worse in a desert island food than pizza. You had the carbs, the vegetable, and the protein. You could eat a pie every day. You could eat a slice at every meal. It was a soft sell–you read the columns once you’d already bought your pizza, after all–but I took that message to heart.
This is why I’ve never once even ventured to label pizza as junk food. It’s just not. Especially when you load up a crust with chicken, kale, caramelized onions, and barbecue sauce.
The possession of a good frozen pizza crust transforms your apartment into the kind of dream desert island where pizza’s on offer all the time. From the starting point of this prized crust, the toppings can be serious, straightforward, and intentional, when pizza for dinner is truly a plan, or they can be a little more hodgepodge, like a mad lib that goes [insert sauce here] and then [insert toppings].
What’s funny and cool about barbecue chicken pizza is that you could plan to have it for dinner in all seriousness–go shopping, buy the right things, eat cole slaw on the side. Or, you could realize that your desert island also lays claim to leftover chicken, a jar of barbecue sauce, an onion in the pantry, and some cheese–and that pizza crust in the freezer–and you could enjoy such a divinely inspired concoction as barbecue pizza with no forethought at all.
Stonefire makes this Italian Artisan Pizza Crust that looks like a delicious flatbread before you put it in the oven. Afterwards, the edges and the bottom crisp up like pizza dough from scratch, and the center firmly holds up the big pile of kale/onion/chicken/bbq sauce/cheddar/jalapeño that you arrange on top.
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- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 6 large leaves lacinato kale, stem removed, leaves slivered
- ½ cup barbecue sauce
- 1½ cups cooked chicken, cubed
- 1 Stonefire Italian Artisan Pizza Crust
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 cup chopped or shredded cheddar (5 to 6 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
- 1 jalapeño, sliced
- Cilantro, for garnish
- Caramelize the onions: Set a heavy pan over medium heat. Add the butter and let it melt, then add the onions and cook, stirring very infrequently, until they sizzle and being to soften. Turn the flame to low, and allow the onions to slowly cook, caramelizing as they go. During this time, it is important to make sure the onions are spread as evenly as possible across the pan. Every 10 minutes or so, scrape the bottom and redistribute the onions so each gains the maximum amount of surface area. The intention is to slowly cook the onions so they sweeten in their own juices. If you stir too often, the onions will turn to mush. This process takes about 40 to 50 minutes. At the end, sprinkle the onions with salt. Turn up the heat slightly, add the kale, cover the pot, and cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the kale is wilted. You can do this up to three days ahead of time. If you do, cool to room temp then store in the fridge.
- When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 475°F. If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven.
- Scoop out 2 tablespoons of barbecue sauce from the measured ½ cup and combine it with the chicken in a small bowl.
- Add the mayo to the remaining barbecue sauce and stir to combine. Spread this on the crust, almost to the edges. Strew the onions and kale across the sauce, then top with the cheddar and parmesan. Place the jalapeño slices on top. Slide the pizza onto the pizza stone, if using; otherwise bake on a baking sheet.
- Bake at 475°F for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden. Let the pizza rest for 2 to 3 minutes, then garnish with cilantro and cut into 8 rectangles.