A whole wheat crust, spicy peanut sauce, chicken with a hint of citrus, and peppery cilantro topping. Thai Chicken Pizza is one of my craving foods these days, but I tell you, gentle reader, it was not always so. Let’s take a peek at my culinary past, shall we?
Hot fudge sauce, no way. Coca-Cola, uh-uh. Salsa, not on your life. Looking back, I wonder what I did eat when I was 16. It’s funny when you realize that you’ve grown up, and now eat what you used to consider “grownup” foods. PJ and I have had several blog comment conversations with our fellow bakers on the joys and trials of being old fogeys, and it brought to mind for me how our tastes change over time, not just our vision and hair color. Here’s what else I’ve been thinking…
First, I can’t remember how I lived without dark chocolate or hot fudge. I know I didn’t like either, and remember my dad always hitting us up after Halloween for the Hershey’s Special Dark candy bars from our goodie bags. I know I gave them up willingly back then, but would put up quite a fight for them nowadays.
When I was in high school, Friendly’s restaurants came up with a sundae using Reese’s Pieces, the popular candy from the movie E. T. The sundae had hot fudge sauce and peanut butter sauce. Here’s how I used to order one. “I’ll have a Reese’s Pieces sundae, hold the hot fudge, double on the peanut butter, extra whipped cream and two cherries.” Holy sugar buzz, Batman!
I’ve since learned to love hot fudge, and now I don’t make such a fuss when ordering my sundaes. But I do still ask for two cherries.
Another culinary delight that I missed out on for years was spicy foods. When I was about 13, I went to pick veggies from my Gramma Coppolino’s garden. I picked the usual carrots, lettuce, and green peppers for a salad, and brought them home to wash. The little green pepper I had picked was just too tempting, and I took a big bite. CRUNCH!
OUCH! The pain was blinding; my eyes started to water. Who knew that peppers came in sweet and HOT varieties? No one else was home to help me, so I grabbed the sprayer in the kitchen sink and proceeded to spray my open mouth, face, and hands. Not much help; so I grabbed milk and poured it over my face. We didn’t have much money back then, and I recall being so worried about wasting all that milk, but I couldn’t help it. Sorry, Mom.
Eventually the burn faded to a dull roar, but that incident certainly affected how I felt about hot foods for many years to come. It wasn’t until I was in college that I consented to try salsa (mild salsa, thank you); and hot sauce didn’t follow until I was dating my husband after graduation.
Luckily, Asian flavors have always been among my favorites, and I’ve been pretty adventurous with trying new things on that front. I adore Thai basil chicken and pad thai. Dim sum and mu-shu are favorites and, of course, this Thai Chicken Pizza.
Fellow blogger Susan Reid is the mother of the original recipe for this pizza. The first piece I ever tried was when she was test baking it for our cookbook, Whole Grain Baking. The sweet, spicy flavors lingered on my tongue all during my ride home, and stayed in my mind for weeks until I was able to get more. When I started working on this blog, I did tweak the recipe a bit, but that’s what we bakers do; and Susan never once came after me brandishing a chef’s knife.
The white whole wheat crust is the perfect compliment to the citrus-y chicken, and tempers the mild heat of the chili garlic sauce in the marinade, as well as the bite of the scallions. Good golly, I’m craving it again. Let’s get started on our Thai Chicken Pizza. It’s an overnight recipe, so be sure to plan ahead.
Why cold water? The cold temperature will slow the yeast down so that it won’t wear itself out during the long rise.
I find mixing with my fingers easier than dirtying a spoon.
Loosely cover the bowl and leave it at room temperature overnight, about 12 to 15 hours.
For the unique and authentic flavors in this pizza, you’re going to need a few specialty ingredients. Fear not, they’re available in most grocery stores, even in my local small grocery in a town of 1,000 people.
Left to right: Hot chili garlic sauce (comes in mild, too). Thai fish sauce and Thai peanut sauce. Each is unique and flavorful. Do try to find them, even if they’re a different brand; they make all the difference.
Marinating the chicken can be done in as little as 2 hours, or as long as overnight. As long as our fingers are dirty, let’s do it now and allow our chicken the time to develop incredible flavor.
Cut the chicken into large chunks and place in a non-reactive bowl with the fish sauce, brown sugar, and chili garlic sauce.
Next, squeeze in the juice of one lime. Fresh is best; try to avoid bottled juice for this recipe.
To juice your fresh lime, place it in the microwave for 20 seconds, then roll it under your palm on the countertop for another 20 seconds. Then slice and squeeze. The heat and pressure release more juice with less effort.
Hey, you say, what’s wrong with that gal’s lime? It’s funky, it’s camouflaged! Actually it’s a lime that has already had its zest removed. Remember, if you zest fruit it’s still good on the inside. Just use it within a few days of zesting, as it dries out more quickly.
Now, off to bed. Sweet dreams!
Good morning! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and your overnight starter is happy and bubbly. All is right with the world.
Look at the lovely gluten development for the starter.
Place all the starter, plus the water, flour, yeast, and salt, into the bowl of your stand mixer.
Knead on second speed for 5 minutes. This is a soft, rather wet dough. Don’t add more flour, it’s fine. Really!
Look at the gluten development now. I know the dough looks a LOT softer and wetter than a typical pizza dough; but trust me, this is how we want it to look at this point. The whole wheat flour is going to hydrate more during the rise, and the slack texture will allow for a good rise and great texture in the final crust.
Cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature. Set a timer for 30 minutes and then meet me back here for the first fold.
Wow, it’s 30 minutes later, the dough is puffed up just a bit, and it’s still quite sticky. To help develop the gluten and build structure into the dough without kneading, you’ll be making a fold (also known as a bucket fold, or bench fold).
You’re literally going to be folding the dough over on itself to redistribute the yeast and stretch the gluten. It can be a messy business, but you’re going to be well prepared.
Get a bowl of cool water deep enough to dip your whole hand into. Try to use just the one hand, it really cuts down on the mess factor. Dip your hand in and gently shake off any excess water.
Reach down into the bowl and grasp the dough on the side. Stretch the dough up and fold it over the remaining dough in the bowl. It always reminds me of picking up a corner of a blanket and pulling it up and over to cover your feet.
Turn the bowl 1/4 turn and repeat the fold process. Turn once more and fold once more.
See? Thanks to the water dip you aren’t that messy at all. Cover the bowl and set your 30-minute timer again. See you then!
Here’s the dough after the second set of folds
And during the third folds. By now the dough is much less sticky and easier to work with. It still has plenty of moisture, though, and great extensibility.
And finally, ready to turn out and prepare for pizza. You’l notice this dough is not a high riser. It won’t double, but will look full and puffy between folds.
Time to preheat the oven to 450°F, please.
Let’s get back to our chicken topping.
In a large sauté pan, cook the chicken over medium-high heat, along with about half the marinade. Cook until the chicken begins to brown, and the sauce has thickened and clings to the chicken.
Allow the chicken to cool slightly, then chop into bite-sized pieces. I like to use parchment paper to keep the sweet sauce off the cutting board and on the chicken.
Why not cut the chicken into small pieces first? The larger pieces will keep the chicken moist during cooking, so they won’t be dry on the pizza.
Chop the scallions into 1/8” slices, and set aside.
Divide the dough in half, and place one piece on a sheet of parchment paper. For this wet dough, parchment paper will be your best bet; it’s well worth the investment.
Pat and stretch the dough into a 10” circle. Keeping your hands wet will help.
Take your time, and let the dough rest for a few minutes if it fights back. The dough should be about 1/2” thick, and slightly thicker at the edges. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
Spread about half the peanut sauce on each crust. Top with the chopped chicken, scallions, and your choice of pizza cheese, then it’s off to the oven.
Bake the pizza on a hot pizza stone or baking sheet until the cheese bubbles and the crust is a light golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes.
The underside of the pizza will be crisp and browned.
Sprinkle torn cilantro over the top of the pizza, and serve immediately.
เพลิดเพลิน! Phelidphelin! Enjoy!
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