Monday, October 13, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Pizza is a Hit

Buffalo Wings can conjure up mental images of excruciatingly hot flavors, inspiring a fear of trying them out. Or, such is the way my husband has imagined, to date. In all the many years since these wings have taken over the appetizer menu everywhere, my husband has yet to even taste them.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza, fresh from the oven
Now, I can understand that, up to a point. I mean, if you cannot tolerate almost any heat in a food, then this fear would keep one from trying something out. But really, when Iasked him yesterday if he had EVER tried Buffalo Wings, he said no. Absolutely. 

As for myself, I think I only ever once ordered Buffalo Wings once as an appetizer somewhere, and I really loved them, flavor-wise. I am not overly keen on messing with bones and eating too much of the skin. Not because of health purposes. Too much of that rubbery skin in my mouth just gives me the willies, a little hangup of my own. I have, in some distant past, even bought frozen Buffalo Wings when I craved them. I also love the flavors, done up in a sandwich or wrap. In Florida we ate often at Beef O'Brady's, a sports bar with exceptionally good food. I ate their "Buffalo Chicken Wrap" more times than any other thing on their menu. It was delightfully good. I also have made a version of the Buffalo Chicken Dip for parties a couple of times, and which my husband also never tried.
One beautiful slice of Buffalo Chicken Pizza

So I was thinking of those flavors last week, and trying to think of a way to present them. I had used Sweet Baby Ray's Buffalo Wing Sauce and Marinade in the past for the dip, and really like the flavor. I haven't used any other brand, since I know that while this one has a little heat, it is not fiery. I thought about trying a version of the Buffalo Chicken Lasagna I am seeing around the internet recently. That was my plan, but the more I thought about it, the more I started leaning toward pizza instead. So yesterday was pizza day.

First off, I wanted to make just one pizza. I know I could freeze the remainder of a recipe for pizza dough, or just keep it refrigerated till needed, but decided to make a small recipe and just make one large pizza. The recipe I created will make one 15 inch pizza with a nicely puffy crust. Doubling the recipe will make (obviously) 2 large pizzas, or three smaller ones. 

Pizza Dough for One Large Pizza

Start about 4+ hours prior to serving
dough still sticking to bottom of bowl

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm water, 80 - 90 degrees
1 tablespoon olive oil

1 to 1 1/4 cup flour
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 - 2 tablespoons water, only if needed
the Sponge (above)

Sponge: In a heavy duty mixer bowl, or in another large bowl, combine the flour and yeast and mix together. Add the lukewarm water and oil and stir well. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place (80 degrees) for 1 1/2 hours, until bubbly. (When in a cooler climate, setting the bowl in the oven with just the oven light on creates a nice warm environment. Some oven lights are too hot and will begin to cook the dough. In this case, leave the oven door ajar so some of the heat escapes.) 

Dough drizzled with Buffalo Wing Sauce
DOUGH: Once bubbly, if the sponge was made in a heavy duty mixer bowl, add in one cup of flour and salt to taste. Set the dough hook in place and begin kneading on low speed until combined, 2 - 3 minutes. If making by hand, add the flour and salt to the sponge and mix by hand. Once well mixed, determine if more flour is needed. If the climate is very dry, you may even have to add a tablespoon of water or two. Once the flour and salt are mostly incorporated, knead for 4 to 5 minutes more with the dough hook, or 5 to 7 minutes by hand, until the dough is smoothly elastic and not too sticky. In the mixer, the dough should clear the sides of the bowl but still stick to the bottom. Grease a bowl and set the dough in, turning once to grease all sides and set in a warm place to rise for another 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size. 

The dough can be patted out and placed on a cornmeal coated piece of parchment (to later slide on to a pizza stone) or on a greased 15 inch pizza pan. If the dough wants to spring back too much, allow it to rest for 10 minutes and try again, stretching to desired diameter. Top with your choice of flavorings and bake at 475 degrees (450 on Convection Bake) for 13 to 15 minutes.

My husband and I both love blue cheese, so I went ahead and used blue cheese dressing and blue cheese crumbles for my Buffalo Chicken Pizza. If you are not a fan of blue cheese, use Ranch dressing and another cheese crumbled over top, such as Feta or even goat cheese crumbles.

All toppings in place, ready for baking

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

makes one 15-inch pizza

pizza dough (above)
1/3 cup Buffalo Wing Sauce (not plain hot sauce)
2 cups cooked chicken, diced (rotisserie chicken is great)
1 cup celery, thinly sliced
1 cup green pepper, diced
1/2 cup Blue cheese dressing
4 ounces Blue cheese crumbles

Drizzle the Buffalo Wing Sauce over the pizza dough. Top with the chicken, celery and green pepper. Dot with the Blue cheese dressing and then the Blue cheese crumbles. Bake in a preheated 475 degree oven (450 degrees on Convection Bake) for 13 to 15 minutes, or until golden and bubbly.

I am going to be making this again, and soon. My husband LOVED it, though it stretched his spice/heat tolerance to its limits. The flavors were sublime. But.... 

A couple of notes. I coated the pizza dough with olive oil. I used 1/2 cup of Buffalo Wing Sauce. The center of the finished pizza was a bit soggy. Next time I am not using the olive oil and I am using the 1/3 cup of sauce as listed in the recipe above. My hope is that the sauce can soak into the crust a little bit this way. The center of the pizza was too wet, so the other thought is to use the lowest oven rack to bake the pizza rather then the second level up, in hope it will better brown the bottom. I baked the pizza on a pan, so possibly setting it on a parchment and pizza stone would have yielded better crust-baking results. Despite this, the recipe is well worth making again. 

October 18, 2014 Pizza Repeat with Changes
Calphalon 15-inch Perforated Pizza Pan

To amend the recipe above, I made this pizza a second time and followed my idea, using 1/3 cup of the buffalo wing sauce, over a pizza dough with no olive oil. I did use my large, 15-inch perforated pizza pan. I lined the pan with parchment, though this would not be strictly necessary. I used the bottom oven rack to bake the pizza, for the full 15 minutes. The crust came out perfectly crispy, with a most satisfying crunch, despite the sauce and Blue Cheese Dressings. The flavors were equally great the second time, but the crust came out as it should be. I truly recommend this perforated pizza pan!

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.