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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thai Chicken Pizza

Once upon a time, when I was a starving college student, and my cousin was a starving graduate student, we found ourselves making dinner together one night. This memory almost feels like a dream, because my cousin lived on the opposite coast of the United States from me, and I am pretty sure that only once in our lives did we make dinner together.

Anyway, she had a new cookbook she was trying out, and we leafed through it together, to choose a recipe to cook for dinner that night. We chose the Pacific Rim Chicken Pizza, which was a sort of Thai-inspired chicken and veggie pizza with peanut sauce. Being as we were starving college students, we couldn't afford to buy all of the 13 ingredients it required, so we made some cuts and some substitutions and came up with a poor man's version of the dish. But as I recall, it came out great and we were quite proud of our culinary achievement.

I decided right then and there that I needed the cookbook. I am not sure why, as a student who couldn't afford to buy any of the ingredients to follow the recipes, I felt that I had to have this cookbook. But I did. My mother got it for me as a Christmas gift that year, and I have to admit that I haven't used it too much since then. When I do use it, though, I really like it.

Anyway, when I saw that the Improv Cooking Challenge this month was to use carrots and ginger together in a recipe, I immediately remembered this pizza, that I haven't made since that night 17 years ago  long ago  when I was in college.

This time, rather than substituting things that are cheaper, I made different substitutions. I made my own pizza crust instead of buying one (I find it easier to turn on my mixer than to run to the market). I also used orange marmalade since I like the tang of it better than mango chutney. Finally, I substituted a half of a leek for the green onions, since I got one in my Abundant Harvest CSA box this week.

Here is the Thai Chicken Pizza that I largely based on the Pacific Rim Pizza recipe from Eating Well is the Best Revenge.

Thai Chicken Pizza

1 pizza crust (I used my recipe, which you can find here)
3 carrots, cut into matchsticks (about 1 cup)
1 green bell pepper, cut into matchsticks (about 1 cup)
1/2 leek, diced
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (if you have leftover cooked chicken, that's great. If not, you can bake a breast while you work on the pizza)
1 tablespoon coarsely grated ginger
2 tablespoons orange marmalade (I make that too, which you can see here... or just buy it)
3 tablespoons unsalted peanut butter
2 tablespoons Asian cooking wine (or use some dry white wine or cooking sherry)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Start by making your pizza crust. Or if you are using pre-made pizza dough, roll it out. Trader Joe's has a great pizza dough in the dairy case. Heat the oven to about 450 degrees, and bake the pizza crust until it is about half-way done. (about 6-7 minutes). This will keep it from getting soggy when we load it up with the other yummy stuff.

If you are cooking your chicken, pop it in the oven once the crust is done, and take it out as soon as it is cooked through (about 10-15 minutes).

Meanwhile, start chopping the carrots, bell pepper, and leeks.  Set them aside, and in a small bowl, whisk together the ginger, marmalade, peanut butter, cooking wine, and vinegar.

Once the chicken is done, cut it into matchsticks also. Keeping all the toppings the same size and shape makes sure that each bite of pizza has a great balance of all the yummy flavors!

Toss together the chopped vegetables, the chicken, and the peanut/ginger sauce.

Spread it out evenly on the pizza crust, making sure to get it close to the edges all around.

Bake it for another 6-7 minutes, until the edges of the pizza begin to brown.

Sprinkle the chopped cilantro on top, slice, and serve.

This recipe is linked to the Improv Cooking Challenge.

Improv Challenge