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Chicken as a Pizza Topping

  • j

I want to use boneless breast as a pizza topping. The pie will be a thin crust pizza cooked on a stone in a 550F oven. I have been having excellent results lately and want to expand beyond tomato/mozz pies.
Tonight's pie will have tomato, garlic, onion, maybe mozz, maybe pecorino romano, maybe calamata olives....or none of the above.....anything's possible.
But the question is: how to prepare the chicken before putting it on the pie. Marinate? Saute? Poach? I want maximum flavor but I fear overcooked shoe-leather (but I also fear undercooked disaster). I would very much rather not put it on the pie late--I much prefer to not pull the pie out of the oven before it is done.

So--what kind of ideas are there for delicious, not overcooked chicken on a charred thin crust pie?

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  1. I happen to think chicken is great on pizza. If it were me, I would precook the chicken but undercook it. I think I would poach it a little with whatever seasonings go with the rest of your pie, let it cool & then chop & spread over the pizza. I'm guessing the pizza isn't going to take long so the chicken should cook and maybe brown a little while the pizza cooks. I really like thai bbq chicken pizza--hoisin sauce, cilantro, green onions etc.

    5 Replies
    1. re: sparkareno

      I strongly regret that another really good response got tossed with the bath water. Thank you for the good ideas (quite similar and almost simultaneous with sparkareno's) and for recognizing the question being asked. I welcome you back to this thread should you choose.
      Although that hoisin direction sounds outstanding, I'm likely staying more Mediterranean this time 'round.
      I'm definitely heeding the idea of undercooking the chicken.

      1. re: JonL

        A pizza place I used to go to had "chicken parm" pizza, and I think that would be best here. It was breaded and sauteed, then cut in thin slices and laid out on the pizza. I think that will help keep it juicy, plus the breading will add a nice textural element. Plus, it just plain works with the theme.

        1. re: JonL

          i'd strongly recommend against poaching. Poached chicken breast is too often dry and stringy and I think this would get exacerbated in the oven. I would bread and pan fry. Then let cool to room temp before using, otherwise you will dry it out

          1. re: ESNY

            My poached chicken never comes out dry or stringy. I turn the heat off the minute the water starts to form bubbles, put the lid on & let it sit for 45 minutes. I suggested to the OP that she undercook it before putting it on the pizza.

            1. re: sparkareno

              Chinese method of poaching chicken IS the best. I thank the "frugal gourmet" for that one : ) I would grill or sear the breast for maximum flavor.

              Oh Lord, back in the burgeoning gourmet pizza days I cannot tell you how many Char sui chicken pizzas I made. Marie Osmond used to order them a lot. Her and Tony Orlando used to come into the place I worked frequently (in Branson... yes, I know the town is famous for crappy food, lol).
              Never got to meet them though!

      2. Funny you should ask. My son likes chicken on his pizza. I've always cooked it first in the oven, but most recently I forgot to plan ahead. It wasn't done, in fact it was half raw, when I put it on the pizza. Turned out juicy and much tastier than usual.

        1. you can also pre-cook it keeping it very moist, then add it five minutes before the pizza is done and sprinkle a tad more cheese on top over it.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Emme

            I work at a pizza place and we make a pretty popular chicken pizza. Never have had a problem with overcooking. We grill chicken breasts and slice them thin. The sauce is a white sauce, but I prefer pesto. I havent ever tried it at home. Our pizzas only take five minutes. We have a big brick oven. Might overcook if you need to cook the pizza a lot longer then that. But if you can get your oven really nice and hot it should work great.

          2. Depends on what kind of chicken experience you're looking for. You could do a shredded approach, in which case I would take a whole breast section or split breasts, brine them and slow roast it until it's done, with the skin off. Not looking for any browning, but just maximum juice retention. The slower you roast the better. Then you can take the meat off the bones and either shred or cube.

            To take the pie over the edge, I'd take the discarded skin and fry it crisp on a pan then sprinkle over the pie when it comes out of the oven.

            Otherwise I would dice the chicken up into cubes and go for a really fast browning in the pan with some italian seasoning. Leave chicken underdone to finish in oven.

            Or you can go for a chicken parm style breaded and fried approach. All would be delicious in their own way.

            1. My favorite chicken pizza is BBQ. I bake the chicken breasts for 30 minuts in BBQ sauce, covered. the pizza is BBQ sauce, chicken, fontina and gruyere, cilantro and thinly sliced red onion. I have made my own sauce and also used commercial. It's great, if you ever want to break away from the traditional sauces, etc.

              1 Reply
              1. re: cocktailhour

                Just want to thank everyone. I'll take some great inspiration from this. All I need to do is decide what I'll do and then make sure I don't try to do each and every tempting suggestion on one pie (I habitually tend toward that when I allow myself to improvise, often resulting in something that evokes a "what the hell is that supposed to be?!") Discipline.

              2. Are you totally committed to using white meat? Because I recently had a lonely chicken thigh and some pizza dough. I pan-fried the thigh, removed the skin (and I may have eaten it.... shhh don't tell), sliced the meat thinly, and put it on my standard tomato/mozz pizza pie with some veg toppings. It was SOOOO good that I now totally question why people always use breast on pizza. And the chicken did not dry out at all, although I also use a high oven. Granted I am a dark-meat lover so I guess it was just a matter of time before I figured this out.

                1. Jules and Cocktailhour's ideas sound yummy.

                  I've used chicken on my pizzas a ton of different ways. I just bake the breast til it's done, then thinly slice. However, I like chicken better with a white sauce, not red. I usually just whip up some simple Alfredo sauce, and cheat a bit by using a small can of evaporated milk, instead of cream, to cut back a bit on the calories. While the chicken's baking, you can throw in a head of garlic with the top cut off and some olive oil on it. Might as well roast up some garlic in the oven while the chicken bakes. It goes well with the white sauce and chicken.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: natewrites

                    Agreed re: the chicken with a white vs. red pizza sauce. An alfredo/white sauce, roasted garlic or caramelized onions as I noted below, and maybe some spinach if you want to be virtuous and have something green on the pizza. :-)

                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      LindaWhit, add some pinenuts to your white sauce, chicken, spinach and roasted garlic pie and you have my all time favorite pizza!

                  2. Oh, and don't worry about the chicken drying out. You're not cooking the pizza that long anyway, and besides, if it's under the cheese, the oil from the cheese is going to help keep it moist.

                    1. Actually, my only departure from your scheme would be to use thigh meat instead. But if I were using breast--which obviously is fussier in the overcooking dept.--then I'd par-freeze the breasts to facilitate cutting them into very uniform small chunks, then marinate the pieces and cook them from raw on the pizza (if you're truly cooking at 550). Maybe I'd very briefly sautee them, though, if the pieces seemed to need firming up for spreading.

                      Given your Mediterranean interest, I'd marinate them in this mixture, modified a bit from what I use to grill chicken breasts (and beholden to a Cooks Illustrated grilling recipe some time ago):

                      1 tsp Dijon mustard
                      2 tsp lemon juice
                      6 tbs olive oil
                      Minced fresh parsley and/or oregano leaves to taste
                      1 tsp sugar
                      2 tsp Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
                      2-3 minced garlic cloves
                      2 tablespoons water

                      When the chunks are small and uniform, I think that even 30 minutes marinating is plenty, and 5 minutes or so is long enough to cook little chunks, if they not buried under cheese.

                      1. I just made a chicken, mushroom and roasted red pepper pizza last night for dinner with a caramelized onion sauce (made a basic medium-thick white sauce to which I added some previously caramelized onions).

                        The chicken was thinly sliced into small, single bite pieces and simply seasoned with salt and pepper. They were then pan-sauteed over medium to medium-high heat until they were slightly browned and done. It was all spooned into a small bowl until I needed it, *including* the juices in the pan, so that helped to keep the chicken moist.

                        The pieces then got put onto the pizza dough that had been sauced, I added slightly sauteed mushrooms, then sprinkled chopped roasted red peppers on top. Grated Parm-Reg to finish it and into the oven it went until the crust was done...which doesn't take all that long - maybe 10 minutes (I think I cooked mine at 400 on a baking sheet, as I don't have a stone). The chicken wasn't dry at all!

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          Oh, that sounds yummy. We have gotten into making more pizza's at home so I will have to try this. Thanks for the suggestion.

                          1. re: boyzoma

                            All of you rock.

                            I could respond to everything that's been said but I'd bore myself and anyone else.
                            --breast meat because I had some thawing. I lean toward white meat but I know that dark has a lot going for it in flavor & moistness. I'll finally get to making this pie later today. I marinated the whole breasts and seared them off, very hot and glazed at the end with a balsamic reduction. I'll either slice or chunk them for the pie. There will be sliced grape tomatoes, calamata olives and onions. There will be a lot of olive oil and garlic. Some fresh mozz. Some grated pecorino. I reserve the right to do all of this or none or more---we'll see what happens.
                            The only thing I know for sure...it will be good.
                            In the future I will, for certain, do a chicken parm thing. That sounds great. I will also do a francese thing, flour/egg batter with an oil/lemon/garlic/wine treatment. Damn.....

                        2. first things first...once you place chicken on it, it is now a flatbread versus a pizza.

                          jfood likes a chicken flatbread with some sauteed mushrooms, cheese and roasted garlic. in the summer when the corn outhere is sweet as sugar sprinkling a handful of sweet corn on top is outstanding as well.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: jfood

                            first things first...once you place chicken on it, it is now a flatbread versus a pizza.
                            Why is that? Pizza doesn't *have* to be just tomato sauce and cheese with a sprinkle of basil.

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              with all due respect to the left coast...yes it does. bolognese is made with meats and tomatoes, coq au vin is made with red wine and falaffel is chick peas.

                              although jfood loves many of the creativity of great chefs on your side of the USA, a pizza does NOT contain chicken, pineapple, mexican, thai or any middle eastern cuisine. jfood has been very consistent in this theme (and he understands he may be an outlier) but once you move from a traditional pizza by adding non-pizza toppings, then it moves into flatbread territory.

                              jfood had this same conversation with the owner of his favorite pizzeria just yesterday when he saw a pineapple slice delivered. he is 8" taller and 100 pounds heavier and jfood took him to task for selling out. his response was a shrug and, "it sells." gotta love it when entrepreneurial trumps tradition. jfood stills loves the guy.