California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) is a chain restaurant with locations all over the US. As the name suggests, one of their specialties is pizza, and their most famous one is their "Original BBQ Chicken Pizza", which they invented in 1985. It's SO good! There's something about the flavor combination of BBQ sauce, smoked Gouda, mozzarella, thinly sliced red onion and cilantro...it's a mouthful of heaven. I figured out how to make it a while back and find that (as with most dishes I make) it tastes better home made.
I like to make my pizza crust from scratch and to use whole wheat flour, which adds a nice nutty flavor and, of course, is much more nutritious than white flour. This pizza dough is so easy and super fast to make. It doesn't need to rise and turns out perfectly crunchy. Try it...you'll never go back to store bought!
Also, I use fresh mozzarella because I love how it melts and I like seeing the individual dollops on the pizza, but feel free to use the shredded kind.
Any type of cooked chicken will do here, shredded or diced. I've taken this pizza to the next level by using slowly braised in oil chicken thighs confit. It really elevates the pizza to gourmet status. As a bonus, I've included a quick mini Instructable at the end that shows you how to make the chicken confit. The chicken comes out melt in your mouth tender and is incredible with the flavors of this pizza.
Lastly, you can skip the sliced green onions and just add cilantro, but I like the freshness they add.
I hope you try making this pizza and get the fantastic results I get every time. My mouth is watering as I type this instructable! Oh that's right, I have frozen dough left over from last time. And I have chicken, gouda, mozzarella, cilantro... hmmm...
Just turned the oven on :)
Step 1: Gather the Ingredients
For the Quick (no need to rise) Whole Wheat Pizza Crust:
- 1 cup of water
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 tbs sugar
- 1 envelope or 2 & 1/4 tsp rapid-rise yeast (aka instant yeast)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2.5 cups white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour
- 5 tbs grated parmesan cheese
- If you don't like whole wheat crust, just use regular white all purpose flour. It turns out amazing as well!
- Feel free to just use your favorite store bought pizza dough, just read instructions about cooking time. And make sure to still use a little flour when rolling out dough to help with stickiness.
- The above amounts make two pizza crusts. I like to make two and refrigerate or freeze the other for a super quick meal.
For the Pizza:
- 8 to 12 oz cooked chicken (see note)
- About 1/2 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce (I love Baby Ray's!)
- 1/4 cup thickly grated SMOKED Gouda (MUST be smoked! That's what gives it the CPK flavor)
- 1 ball of fresh mozzarella (about 8 to 10 slices), or 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1/4 thinly sliced red onion
- 3 scallions (or green onions), green parts only
- 3 tbs or so chopped fresh cilantro
- Salt and pepper to taste
- You can buy already cooked rotisserie chicken for ease, you can dice a raw chicken breast or thighs and quickly sauté in a pan, you can poach chicken and then shred, or roast chicken in oven. Or, make chicken thighs confit, which I show you how to do at the end of this Instructable.
- These topping ingredient amounts are for one pizza, just double everything to top two
Step 2: Proof the Yeast:
- Preheat oven to 450 and place the rack in upper third of oven
- Place the baking pan you will be using (pizza stone or a baking sheet) on the rack so it preheats. This is very important, as it helps create an evenly cooked, delicious crust
- Heat the water to a lukewarm temperature, this is at about 110 degrees (can range from 105 to 115)
- In a measuring cup, mix the water with the oil and sugar
- Sprinkle the yeast on top and mix lightly
- Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, until the yeast looks foamy (this is called proofing the yeast)
Step 3: Make the Dough:
- In a food processor, mix the whole wheat flour with the Parmesan cheese and the salt
- Pulse a few times to combine
- While running the processor, slowly pour in the yeast mixture
- Process until a dough comes together, just a few seconds should do it
- Place the dough on a lightly floured surface
- Use your hands to knead the dough a few times until it easily shapes into a ball
- Cut the dough in half
- If you're making only 1 pizza, wrap the dough in plastic and either chill in fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to a month
Step 4: Roll Out Pizza Dough:
- If dough is sticky, sprinkle some flour on top and on your rolling pin
- I like to roll out the dough directly on parchment paper, it makes it easier to move it
- Roll out the dough into a 12 inch or so round shape
- Try to get it as thin as you can, it's ok if it doesn't look like a perfect circle
- Brush the top of the rolled out dough with a little olive oil
Step 5: Add BBQ Sauce to Chicken
- If you need to, shred your chicken or cut into small cubes
- Add 3 tbs of the BBQ sauce and mix into chicken, set aside
- Also season chicken with a sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper (a few grinds will do)
Step 6: Spread Sauce and Cheese:
- Using a spoon, spread the rest of the BBQ sauce on the rolled out pizza dough, leaving a 1 inch border uncovered
- Grate the smoked gouda, and sprinkle 1/4 cup of it over the pizza
- Slice the fresh mozzarella and distribute evenly over the gouda
Step 7: Top With Chicken, Onion and Bake:
- Spread the chicken evenly over the cheese
- Top with the thinly sliced onion (how much you use depends on how much you like onions, I like to use about 1/4 of a medium onion for 1 pizza)
- Carefully transfer the parchment paper with the pizza to the preheated baking sheet or pizza stone and bake until crust on the edges is cooked and the toppings are bubbling, about 10 minutes
NOTE: Start checking the pizza at 8 minutes to make are pizza is not burning. Every oven is different!
Step 8: Top With Cilantro and Scallions:
- And now for a very important step: Sprinkle some herby freshness over your delicious pizza! This is a MUST
- Finely slice the green onions (aka scallions, use green part ONLY) and chop up the cilantro and sprinkle on top
Step 9: How to Make Chicken Thighs Confit:
I remember the days when the word “confit” was a rare treat I could only order at a fancy restaurant. Those were sad days. Luckily, my never-ending culinary curiosity led me to research how to make my own confit at home. I was surprised at how easy it was and how decadent and useful the results were.
Wether you’re making duck, chicken, garlic, or anything confit, the final product will keep in the fridge for several days and up to 3 weeks, (depending on the type of fat you use), supplying you with incredibly delicious weeknight meals ready in minutes.
Of course, duck fat renders fantastic results and keeps the longest, but I have found that two common pantry staples mixed together, olive and canola oil, work just as well and are much easier to work with and not to mention cheaper. I also really like using chicken thighs for several reasons: They are less fatty than duck, but taste almost as rich when cooked confit style, the dark meat of the thighs falls right off the bone and is easily shreddable, you can fit more thighs in the pan using a minimal amount of oil, and, once again, they are MUCH cheaper.
The whole process takes a couple of days, but the actual hands on time is very short. Just throw the brine on the chicken on day 1 and leave it in the fridge overnight. The next morning, rinse the chicken and pat dry, place in a roasting pan or slow cooker, add aromatics, cover with oil, and cook low and slow for 6 or 8 hours. Let cool and place back into the fridge until ready to use. Covered in the oil, the chicken has lasted me for up to a week, though it never makes it that long :)
Makes 6 to 8 chicken thighs
- 6 to 8skin on, bone-in chicken thighs
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 or 4 thyme sprigs
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil (or enough to cover chicken)
- 2cups canola oil (or enough to cover chicken)
Special Equipment: Slow Cooker (or follow instructions, but slow cook in oven)
- THE DAY BEFORE COOKING: If chicken is wet, pat it dry so spices adhere easily. Season thighs evenly on both sides with the kosher salt and pepper.
- Place chicken thighs into a gallon size Zipock bag (or a large dish or bowl), add the smashed garlic, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves. The benefit of the bag is that it uses up the smallest amount of space and is much easier to fit in the fridge. Also, you can easily rearrange the chicken in the bag so it gets evenly flavored by the garlic and herbs, without having to open up the dish and dirty up another utensil.
- Close bag, squeezing all the air out. Use your hand to mix ingredients slightly, so they are dispersed somewhat evenly. Place in fridge (I like to rest the bag on a small plate) for at least 12 hours or, preferably, overnight. If possible, at some point mix the chicken up slightly to move the garlic and herbs around.
- ON THE DAY OF COOKING: Preheat oven to 225°F if slow roasting. Otherwise, get your slow cooker out.
- Remove the chicken from the bag and place in a colander, reserving the aromatics. Rinse to get some of the salt off and pat dry very well.
- Place the thighs into a roasting pan large enough to hold all the chicken, but not so big you can't cover it with oil. Or place chicken into the slow cooker.
- Disperse all the aromatics you used when brining. Add rosemary, if using, and scatter the sliced onion over. Add a 50/50 mixture of olive oil and canola oil until the chicken is completely submerged. It has to be totally covered with the oil, or it will not cook evenly.
- Cover and roast in the oven for 6 to 8 hours. You can check the chicken at the 6 hour mark, it should be really tender. If using a slow cooker, cook on low for 3 hours, then increase heat and cook on high for another 2 hours.
- Let the chicken and pan come to room temperature. You can pull out some thighs right away if you want to use them immediately, or cover and place in the fridge. It might be easier to move the thighs to another bowl, just make sure they are always submerged in the oil and covered tightly. The chicken will keep for 5 or 6 days. Also, strain the oil and reserve to fry the chicken in it, or other foods like potatoes.
- When you want to use the chicken, just remove the desired amount and fry in the reserved oil, starting skin side down over medium heat. Let the skin get really golden before flipping, so it doesn't stick.