“Manly” Chicken-and-Cheese Pizza with Olives and Mushrooms
After Mark Felt outed himself as Deep Throat and it became obvious that Santa’s elves put the stuff inside Caramilk bars, there were perhaps two bona fide unsolved mysteries left in the entire world.
First, how does a guy load the dishwasher properly?
Second, what’s the secret to making the perfect pizza crust?
If it’s too thick, you’re basically eating a slowpitch ball wrapped in mozzarella. If it’s too thin, the dainty platform can’t support the heft of a manly pie with the necessary handful of toppings: Meats 1 through 4 and mushrooms.
And let’s face it, Margherita pizzas are for people with empty fridges and no imagination. Basil is a garnish, not an ingredient. And tomatoes? They’re already in the sauce, for crying out loud.
If the pie craving descends late at night, you’re calling the local joint — if I owned one it would be called Pete’s Za — and taking your chances on the quality of the crust, though at that point in your culinary journey it’s mostly about quantity.
But if you’re making it yourself, take the time to do it right and start by giving the yeast plenty of time to do its thing with the warm water, salt and sugar. Rushing that fermentation process is guaranteed to spoil the dough. On the evolutionary scale, it will wind up a rung below the cardboard crap at the bottom of a frozen pizza.
You’ll know it’s time to add the flour to your bowl when the liquid looks like it’s topped with pond scum. Yum.
Get that part right and a great pizza dough is really as easy as pie.
Kitchen Castoff used
Smoked chicken thigh meat, from a previous Kitchen Castoff recipe
This is how we did it
- ½ oz package yeast
- 4 cups flour
- 1-½ cups warm water
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 5 tbsp bottle marinara sauce
- ¼ cup sliced mushrooms
- ½ cup shredded smoked chicken
- ½ cup mozzarella cheese
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup white cheddar
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
- ¼ cup sliced green olives
I basically followed a Martha Stewart recipe for simple dough. Pour the water into a large mixing bowl, add the yeast and mix thoroughly. Cover and let stand until the action of the yeast produces a gross scum on the top of the water. Might need 10 minutes. As I said, yum.
Whisk in the salt, sugar and oil, then add the flour about a cup at a time. It’s going to make a super sticky ball, so be prepared to get plenty messy. And maybe take the wedding ring off. Once the ball is formed, transfer it to an oiled bowl, cover and let stand for at least an hour. The ball should double in size.
While that’s happening, saute the mushrooms and set aside.
When it’s ready, punch and knead the dough a couple of times. Something about gluten. Or releasing your inner malcontent. Whatever. Just do it. Then dust a large cutting board with flour. Cut off a hunk of the dough from what should be a massive ball, and roll it out with a rolling pin until it’s about ¼-inch thick.
Oil a pizza pan, drop the flattened dough onto it and spread it out so it covers the entire pan. Spread the marinara sauce, then add the chicken, mushrooms, olives and cheese.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 18 minutes. Check the crust periodically to make sure you aren’t burning it.
If you do cook it too much, there is plenty more in the bowl. It freezes just fine too.
Curious about my “Kitchen Castoffs” concept? Here’s the explainer describing my 100-day project.
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