Sides to Make with BBQ chicken

When I was in college, California Pizza Kitchen was the height of awesomeness for my friends and me. A vegetarian at the time, I loved their deliciously thin and creatively adorned pizzas more than life itself. CPK was one of my favorite things.

In the years since leaving California, I’ve created occasional knockoffs of some of the CPK pizza varieties I remember, since there’s no CPK within at least 500 miles of the ranch—maybe even farther. Today I want to share my rendering of their very popular BBQ Chicken Pizza, which was a favorite of Jeff, my (platonic) roommate from Taiwan.

Ahhh, Jeff. I loved that guy.

Long story. Some other time.

For today, enjoy this pizza! And change it up however you’d like—I think CPK used a slightly different cheese than my plain mozzarella, and I’ve added slivers of fresh jalapeno and, once, chunks of fresh pineapple. Just use the basic recipe as a starting point and have some fun with it!

Here’s what you need for the pizza crust.

This is simple stuff here, my darlings!

To make the crust, sprinkle yeast over warm water and let it stand for a few minutes.

Next, add the salt to the flour.

And stir it around in the mixer for a few seconds.

Next, with the mixer on low, drizzle in the olive oil.

Stir it together till the olive oil is worked into the flour.

Next, pour in the warm water/yeast mixture.

Mix it together until the dough all comes together in a sticky mass.

Then just cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside for 1 to 2 hours. Or, if you’d like to make it the day before, or even two days before, just park it in the fridge in the interim.

When you’re ready to make the pizza, here’s what you’ll need.

To begin, preheat the oven to 375 degrees, then throw the chicken breasts in an ovenproof dish…

Then grab your favorite BBQ sauce or marinade.

Pour it over the chicken…

Turn the chicken over and coat both sides well. Salt the chicken on both sides, too.

Throw the chicken in the oven for about 25 minutes. The BBQ sauce will get nice and brown and smoky and lovely.

*Shortcut* – You could also just buy a rotisserie chicken, then shred it and coat it in some BBQ sauce if you don’t want to cook the chicken yourself. This is flexible!

Remove the chicken from the oven. Pour on a little more BBQ sauce if it makes your skirt fly up.

Just set the chicken aside while you prepare the other ingredients.

Slice a red onion in half from root to tip, then pull out the center core so you can achieve clean half-moon slices.

Next, cut some fresh mozzarella into very thin slices.

Thin, because the crust is thin. And you don’t want things to get gloopy.

Cut up the BBQ chicken into thin, neat slices…

Then cut in the other direction to dice.

Finally, pour a little olive oil on a large sheet pan, then smear it all over the pan.

Grab HALF the pizza dough (recipe makes two crusts) and squeeze the dough toward the bottom to form a nice, tight, pulled ball.

I have no idea why I do this, except I saw it back in 2004 in an episode of “The Restaurant” with Rocco Dispirito. His good friend from Italy, Antonnio, is visiting New York and he shows Tony, the head chef at the time, how to make pizza. He always begins by squeezing the dough into a tight little ball…”like a woman’s bottom”, he says in Italian.

That was the best reality show known to mankind.

I want them to bring it back.

Though, I’m not sure Rocco and Jeffrey would be all too keen on working together again.

But if they did, I’d be watching.

(If you didn’t watch “The Restaurant” and have no idea what I’m talking about, I apologize.)

You can roll out the pizza with a rolling pin if you’d like, but sometimes it’s just as easy to throw it around and stretch it.

Believe me, I don’t know what I’m doing. And you don’t have to know what you’re doing either! Just pull and stretch till it feels right.

And when the crust is nice and thin, lay it on the oiled pan.

Drizzle a little olive oil on the dough and smear it around with your grubby fingers.

Then very lightly sprinkle some salt on the crust. Just a little bit.

NEXT: Normally, I would spread a very tiny, light layer of BBQ sauce on the crust, treating it as the pizza sauce. But I plum forgot.

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