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Feel a little embarrassed that I even made a pizza today. I mean, I live in the Land of Amazing Pizza: on every street corner here you can get a slice that blows your mind, pizza that is so freaking good you’ll swear off Dominos for life. And I ignored all those pizzerias and just went ahead and made a pizza in my own kitchen. I could have just walked down to the end of the block and gotten a slice of Artichoke pizza, which is pizza so insanely good you can’t even believe it. Don’t ask me why I made this myself when even a dollar slice could have worked just fine. I had a pizza-making craving, and that itch just had to be scratched.
Ok, ok, I’ll be honest… the real reason for the pizza-making craving? Cheese. Yeah, I said it. Cheese. I can feel the Big Man heaving a sigh from the other room already, but there you have it. I need more reasons for cheese in my life. My fridge had a pint of heavy cream just begging me to make it into ricotta and what was I gonna do? I’m not gonna ignore a fresh pint of cream, for heaven’s sake. So fresh ricotta it was. It’s called logic, people.
And then I had half a quart of buttermilk left over from baking brown bread the other day and beautiful organic chicken thighs in the freezer and some Seckel pears gone past their prime in terms of freshness, and this whole thing just sort of… happened. And it was good.
So here it is: a multi-step recipe for people who are too lazy to walk down and up five whole flights of stairs just to buy a slice of famous New York pizza, and who need an upteenth reason to inject even more cheese into their already dairy-heavy diet. You’re welcome, America.
Ricotta, Pear and Buttermilk-Braised Chicken Pizza
for the pizza dough:
- 1 package dry active yeast (about 1/4 oz)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 cup spelt flour
- 1 cup all-purpose unbleached white flour
for the toppings:
- 2 Seckel pears, or one large Bartlett pear, thinly sliced with the skin on
- 1/2 cup fresh made ricotta cheese (see my recipe for fresh ricotta here)
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
- Rinse the chicken thighs in water and pat dry. Lightly sprinkle each side with the paprika, coarse salt and fresh pepper and set aside. In a large, wide, stainless steel saucepan, whisk together the buttermilk and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken and cook on very low, turning to chicken occasionally.
- While the chicken is cooking, make the pizza dough. Add the yeast to 3/4 cup warm water in a large bowl and let sit until the yeast has begun to proof (you’ll know when it turns a little foamy) This should take about five minutes.
- Once the yeast has proofed, add the salt, olive oil and honey (tip: add the olive oil before the honey using the same tablespoon: the honey will come off the tablespoon easier if that spoon has been coated with olive oil first). Add the flour one cup at a time and combine until you have a very sticky dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in volume, about one hour. I find that my oven with just the pilot light on works as a perfect rising location.
- While the dough is rising, continue to cook the chicken on low, turning every once in a while and stirring the braising liquid. The braising liquid may start to separate: just give it as much of a stir as you can and don’t stress about it.
- Once the dough has doubled in volume, sprinkle the top of the dough with a small handful of flour and gently coax it onto a floured work surface. Gently knead the dough once or twice and form it into a ball: the dough will be very soft and warm and will want to start falling apart, just make sure you keep it together as much as possible. Place it on a pizza pan or a baking sheet layered with parchment paper. If you’d like, you can sprinkle the parchment paper with cornmeal prior to placing the dough on it, but its not needed. Set the dough aside and preheat the oven to 400*F.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and pour the braising liquid into a bowl. Cut the chicken into a rough dice and set aside. Carefully spread the pizza dough out into your desired shape, leaving the edges slightly thicker than the middle. Using a basting brush, brush a thin layer of the braising liquid onto the top of the pizza. Scatter the pizza with the chicken, then dot it with the fresh ricotta. Scatter the pizza with the pears and place immediately in the oven.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the crust of the pizza has cooked all the way through. Let cool slightly before serving.