Pizza from its humble origins in Italy has become one of the world's favorite fast foods in recent years. It is though probably fair to say that popular as it is, pizza is not something many people choose to make at home from scratch, preferring to buy it ready to eat from pizzerias or oven ready from supermarkets. This is perhaps due to a perception that pizza is difficult to make at home but this is absolutely not the case. All the necessary ingredients are available from most supermarkets and despite the wide variety of pizza toppings now available in most retail outlets, making the dish yourself really does allow you to let your imagination run riot and top your pizza with whatever you choose. This pizza has been given a spicy, slightly Mexican theme.
Ingredients (Makes 10 Inch Pizza)
- 1 whole chicken thigh
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- Vegetable oil
- 8 ounce can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
- 1 teaspoon fajitas spice
- ½ teaspoon dried cilantro (coriander leaf)
- Black pepper
- 1 and 1/3 cups (6 ounces) of all purpose (plain) flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 teaspoon active dried yeast
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing
- ½ cup (4 fluid ounces) moderately warm water
- ½ cup mixed bell pepper slices
- ½ cup shredded/grated cheddar or similar cheese
- Freshly chopped cilantro to garnish
Peel the skin from the chicken thigh and scatter with the chili powder and just a little salt, Use your hands to rub the powder in to the flesh. Cover and leave to dry marinate while your oven preheats to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6.
Drizzle a little vegetable oil in the base of a casserole dish and lay in the chicken thigh flesh side up. Put the lid on the dish and bake for twenty-five to thirty minutes until the chicken is just cooked.
When the chicken is in the oven, pour the canned tomatoes in to a saucepan. Add the fajitas spice, dried cilantro and season with salt and pepper.
Put the saucepan on to a medium heat, stir well and bring to a very gentle simmer. Continue to simmer for about ten minutes, stirring frequently. Turn off the heat, cover the pan and leave to cool completely.
When the chicken thigh is cooked, lift it to a plate, cover and leave to cool completely.
Measure out the flour in to a mixing bowl and add the yeast along with a generous pinch of salt. Stir the dry ingredients to combine before making a well in the center of the bowl and adding the wet ingredients in the form of the warm water and extra virgin olive oil. A wooden spoon can be used to initially draw the dry ingredients in to the wet but the job is finished to best effect with your hands. Mix until you have formed a sticky ball of dough.
Lightly flour a clean dry surface and knead the dough with your hands for about five or six minutes to begin the process of activating the yeast.
Lightly oil a clean bowl with olive oil and sit the dough in the bottom. Cover and leave in a warm place for about an hour or until the ball of dough has roughly doubled in size.
When the dough is risen, return it to a floured surface and simply knock the excess air from it with your knuckles. This will only take a few seconds.
Lightly oil a ten inch pizza pan and sit the ball of dough in the center.
Carefully stretch the dough outwards from the center towards the edge until you have formed a pizza base of even thickness all the way to the edges of the pan.
Spoon the cooled pizza sauce in to the center of the base and gently swirl it outwards until it almost but not quite reaches the edge of the pan. Leave a border of around a quarter to half an inch to allow a nice crust to form during cooking.
Pluck all the flesh from the cooled chicken thigh, trying to remove it in evenly sized pieces. Arrange it at even intervals over the pizza sauce topping.
These mixed bell pepper slices were bought in a pack from the supermarket but you can easily seed and slice the bell pepper colors of your choice before arranging them around the pieces of chicken on the pizza.
Mozzarella is the normal cheese employed in pizza making but cheddar was used in this instance to provide a more robust flavor to stand up to the spices. Mozzarella could be substituted if you wish. Scatter the cheese liberally over the pizza, trying to ensure an even covering.
Preheat your oven to 450F/220C/Gas Mark 8 and bake the pizza for around twelve minutes, or a little longer if you want the base extra crisp.
Take the pizza from the oven and let it rest in the pan for a few minutes. Garnish it with the freshly chopped cilantro. It should then be lifted to a plate or board for cutting as cutting it while it is still in the pan is likely to damage the non-stick surface and affect the pan's use in future.