Sometime this summer I’m going to make my own ricotta cheese!! And possibly my own mozzarella as well! Everytime I use either of these cheeses and buy it *cringe* at the store, I think to myself why am I buying this stuff when I know I am perfectly capable of making it at home??
Convenience I suppose.
And convenience is important when you are pregnant, hungry and have a one year old to feed! Especially when that one year old knows where the cheese section of the store is, gets real excited about going there and excitedly holds each package I set in the cart exclaiming “oh, wow, wow, wow, wow, WOW!!”
Somehow it just makes dinner taste even better!
Both my husband and I LOVE making our own homemade pizza! Ever since I have begun baking bread out of Peter Reinhart’s book “Artisan Breads Every Day” and we discovered the neo-neopolitan pizza dough recipe, we have our own homemade pizza for at least two straight nights in a row (since each recipe makes five pizzas…) at least once a month!
Often we save our pizza nights for those days where we have lots of leftover veggies that we need to use up and make an insane pizza with all sorts of toppings piled on from fresh veggies to olives, sausage, pepperoni, chicken, whatever we have on hand really! How decadent your pizza winds up being is entirely up to each creator! And since Mei is eating solid foods on her own now, we make her little tiny calzones to eat and she LOVES having her own portion to destroy and poke and get all over herself! Something about having her own little pizza gets her curious about the toppings and she tries out new veggies and meats that she usually discards or doesn’t give more than one lick (to test the waters) to when she encounters them in other meals we make for her. So it’s pretty much an amazing meal for our family.
We really don’t tend to make “artisan” pizzas though, and tonight I really was just in the mood for a BBQ chicken pizza! So I got out a nice bottle of BBQ sauce to marinate the chicken breasts in, a few fresh mozzarella balls, cilantro and away we went! They turned out amazing! We made up the chicken before hand and sliced up all the toppings and just pulled them out of the fridge when we were ready to make dinner. It gave the dough just enough time to proof and the oven just enough time to heat up and since it only takes 7 minutes to bake? We had the most recent episode of Mike & Molly ready to watch with our meal and all sat drooling in the kitchen, making our little creations.
A truly hands-on meal, it comes together quickly and tastes oh so delicious when it is done! The fresh cheese does really make a difference and while my hubby might give me a bit of trouble for buying fresh mozzarella instead of buying the bags of pre-grated cheese mixes, it’s worth it! I usually have to buy extra, since Patella and Mei both beg for bits of it when they hear and see it come out of the bag … but its good for the both of them so I oblige and get them a ball all their own to share!
- one recipe of neo-neopolitan pizza dough, separated into five balls, proofed and stretched out
- 1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast
- 1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce, divided
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch of cilantro, or more to taste
- 1 lb of cheese, either grated/fresh mozzarella (thinly sliced) and a combination of grana padano, parmesean and cheddar cheeses
In a large Ziploc bag, put your chicken breasts and just enough BBQ sauce to coat the chicken. Place in the fridge for 1 hour or overnight.
Pre-heat the oven to 350F and place the chicken breasts with all the sauce it was marinating in, in a oven-safe dish and bake for 20-30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
Turn the oven temperature up to 500F or as high as it will go and let it completely reach this temperature before preparing your pizza.
Cool the chicken a bit on a cutting board then dice into bite-size bits and set aside.
Slice the fresh mozzarella, making sure to keep the slices in the water the balls come in. Grate any other cheeses you have decided to use and set aside.
Chop or tear the cilantro into bits and slice your red onion.
Stretch out each ball of dough, once they have proofed, that you plan to use on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and lightly dust the parchment with some flour to prevent the dough from sticking to the paper.
Use a tablespoon to spread some more BBQ sauce on your dough – which will act like your pizza sauce, top with some of the fresh mozzarella and other cheese, put on as much chicken bits and onion that you like, top with more cheese and bits of cilantro. We also opted to drizzle a bit more BBQ sauce on top of the cheese… mmmm!
Slide into the oven for at least 7 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted and has mottled golden brown spots on top and the edges of the dough are crispy and puffy. Let cool on a cooling rack for a few minutes to firm up the bottom before slicing and enjoy piping hot!