So… we can play this a couple of ways:
One, I share a pretty nice pizza dough recipe and a way to turn it into pretzel pizza dough, or…
Two, I share this pretty cool dough recipe and suggest some tasty, and mebbe unconventional, toppings.
Yeh, I thought you’d like option two.
First, the story of the toppings…
I was listening to NPR, as one does, and they featured an interview with James Rigato, a chef from Michigan, about this dirty pleasure Cajun pizza he’s been making forever and that his staff adores: chicken, ranch dressing, fresh tomatoes, basil and onions, nice pizza dough.
I decided to make it, but with one, wee, tiny change – I used shrimp in place of the chicken – and… it was good, but I dunno if I’d call it a game changer.
Still, that dough was nice, and just enough for one ‘za!
Then, I came across an article for making pretzel pizza dough, and decided to try Jimmy’s idea again, with chicken this time, but with a few other (tasty) changes:
Instead of Cajun seasoning, I opted for Souvlaki, a simple Greek seasoning blend that worked a treat.
And, instead of the called for Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix, I went with a local, all natural alternative.
•2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
•1 tsp salt
•1/4 tsp black pepper
•1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1-1/4 tsp active dry yeast
•1-1/2 tsp honey
•2 tsp olive oil
•3/4 cup room temperature water
•1/4 cup baking soda
•1-1/2 cup hot water
•1 cup buttermilk
•1 cup sour cream
•1 packet ranch dressing mix
•1/2 lemon, juiced
•1 garlic clove, minced
•1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
•1/2 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce
•Boneless, skinless chicken breast
•1-1/2 tsp oregano
•1-1/2 tsp thyme
•1/4 tsp black pepper
•1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper
•Pinch garlic powder
•2-1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
•1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
•4 tbsp olive oil
•1-1/2 cup diced tomato
•3/4 cup diced sweet onion
•8 or 9 fresh basil leaves, chopped
•Zest of half a lemon
•1/2 tsp sea salt
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
•2 cups shredded, your choice – I went with a blend of Kasseri, mozzarella, and provolone.
First things first, start the dough by stirring together the yeast, honey, olive oil, and 3/4 cup of water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
Set aside to rest for ten or fifteen minutes, until the mixture is nicely foamy.
Whisk the flour together with the salt and peppers until blended, then add to the yeast mixture and stir on medium for about five minutes, until the dough has come together and cleaned the sides of the mixing bowl.
Shape the dough into a ball, drizzle some olive oil into the bowl, then roll the dough ball in it to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise fir an hour or three – remember, you are the boss of that dough. If the dough has doubled in size in an hour and you have time to wrangle it further, cool. If it has doubled in size and you have other stuff that needs to be dealt with, still cool. Punch the dough down (or don’t, it’s all good) and go on with your life, the dough will be there, waiting for you, when you are ready for it.
While the dough is rising, now would be a good time to get on with the rest of the ‘za!
Prepare the ranch sauce by combining the dressing packet with the rest of the ingredients and stashing in the fridge for at least one hour to allow the flavors to blend.
As always, not buttermilk? No problem! Simply add one tablespoon of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice to a measuring cup, then add milk to measure one, full cup. Stir to mix, then set aside to rest for ten minutes. Voilà! Buttermilk.
Ranch sauce dealt with, let’s move on to the chicken.
Combine the oregano, peppers, basil, thyme and garlic powder in a container along with the vinegar, lemon juice, and olive oil.
Cut the chicken breast into cubes and toss with about two tablespoons of the vinegar, lemon juice, and olive oil mixture. Save the rest in the fridge for another day.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add the seasoned chicken cubes.
Cook, stirring and turning, for about five minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Now would be a good time to get your oven and pizza stone warmed up. Place your stone of choice (mine is actually cast iron) in the oven and set the temperature to 400º for convection (450º regular).
Toss the tomato, onion, and basil together with the lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, and seasonings in a small bowl and set aside to rest while you begin to put the ‘za! together.
Scatter some corn meal on a large board, punch down the dough (yes, it is time) and roll it out into a rough circle on the board. You may want to sprinkle a bit of corn meal on the top of the dough as well.
Note: you can use the dough as it is, and it will be fine. To make it pretzel dough, you need to do this:
Stir the baking soda into the hot water until it is dissolved, then brush the mixture over one side of the rolled out dough.
Arrange the dough, baking soda coated side down, on your hot pizza stone and pop into the oven for four minutes.
Remove from the oven, brush the top of the dough with more of the baking soda and water mixture, then turn the dough over.
Nice looking bit of dough, no?
Stay with me, I know this has been a long and involved recipe, but we are so close to very tasty pretzel ‘za!
Brush some of the ranch sauce over the browned side of the dough, then top with the cheese blend.
Top the cheese with the cooked chicken, then the seasoned tomato, onion, and basil.
Return the whole thing to the oven for another 13 minutes or so, until the dough is nicely crisped, the cheese is melted and bubbly, and everything is, like Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way.
Remove from the oven and let rest for five minutes before slicing and serving.
Yeh, it took a while to get there, but really, none of it was too, too fussy, and if you planned things right, there was plenty of time to catch up on your latest trashy novel while the dough was rising/ranch dressing was resting in the fridge/pizza stone and oven were heating, etc.
Serve with a nice drizzle of the ranch sauce over the top.