Wow, you guys! I’m overwhelmed with chicken ideas. Thanks everyone! It’s going to take me awhile to eat my way through all of these, but you can be sure I’ll try.
(Click the cookie.)
Reading about chicken of course made me want to eat some. And I had some in the freezer. (Yes, I used our trip out to Tofino as an opportunity to clear out some freezer space. Turns out I not only pack car snacks, but ingredients and frozen stuff we haven’t managed to eat at home. Maybe we’ll eat it on the coast? Will its appeal improve when there is the option of fish & chips at a beach? Perhaps not.) I also, as I went through my cupboards and packed a cardboard box for our trip, mixed up a bag of hot chocolate mix to bring along. The fact that it’s April does not deter the boys one bit from wanting to frolic in the ocean, and so there have been many post-beach hot baths and mugs of hot chocolate this past week. To make your own hot chocolate mix, open a zip-lock bag and dump in about equal parts dark cocoa and sugar – maybe a little more cocoa. If you like, add a handful of mini marshmallows to save yourself a step. Seal and bring wherever you need to go. (To make hot chocolate, stir a spoonful into warmed milk, or many spoonfuls into a saucepanful.)
I also filled an insulated freezer bag with containers of frozen chili, some lamb shanks and a bag of frozen pulled chicken, which makes a pretty fantastic pizza, especially when you are charged with the care and feeding of two young boys.
Have I told you how easy it is to cook a whole chicken in the slow cooker yet? All you do is jam it in (if you have one of those oval ones, you won’t even need to jam it), cover and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours. It won’t be pretty. You won’t get crispy, golden skin. But you will get incredibly moist, juicy meat. After its long, slow cooking time you can pull it apart with forks, just as you would a pork shoulder, and moistened with barbecue sauce you have yourself pulled chicken. Hey, there’s more to pull than just pork.
For some reason, spinach goes very well on a chicken pizza. I had the last of a bag that was looking sad, so I wilted it and scattered it on, too.
Pulled Chicken Pizza
If you like, streamline the process with purchased pizza crusts, or use soft pitas or naan for individual pizzas. If you don’t have a slow cooker, roast your chicken whole, rubbed with oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper, at 375F for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear and the joints wiggle in their sockets. Remove the skin and chop or shred the meat before proceeding with the recipe.
1 whole chicken
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup bottled barbecue sauce, or to taste, plus more
canola or olive oil, for cooking
1/2 bag baby spinach leaves
2 cups grated mozzarella, Gouda, havarti or Montery Jack cheese
Pizza dough (below)
Put the garlic cloves into the chicken cavity and place it in a 6 qt oval slow cooker. If you like, add a half cup of water or stock – this isn’t necessary, as the moisture is trapped inside the slow cooker as the chicken cooks. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
When the chicken is done, remove the skin and pull the meat apart with two forks, or chop it roughly with a knife, discarding the bones. Transfer to a bowl (or keep it in the bowl of the slow cooker, with any juices that have accumulated) and toss with the barbecue sauce. Mash the garlic cloves into the mixture with a fork.
If the mixture is still hot, add the spinach and toss to combine well, then cover and let it sit until it wilts. Alternatively, heat a small drizzle of oil in a skillet set over medium-high heat and saute the spinach for a few minutes, until it wilts. Preheat the oven to 450F.
Roll out pizza dough (below) into two 10″ rounds on a floured, cornmeal-dusted or parchment-lined baking sheet. If you like, spread a little tomato sauce or extra barbecue sauce on your pizza dough, then spread the pulled chicken overtop (you may not need all of it – add it to taste) and scatter with wilted spinach. Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden. Makes 2 large pizzas.
Basic Pizza Dough
1 pkg. (or 2 tsp.) active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar or honey
2 1/2 – 3 cups flour – all purpose, whole wheat, or any combination of the two (I usually use about 2 3/4 cups)
1 tsp. salt
a drizzle (1 tsp. – 1 Tbsp.) olive or canola oil
In a large bowl, stir the yeast and sugar into a cup of warm water; set aside for 5 minutes, until it’s foamy. (If it doesn’t get foamy, either your water was too hot and killed the yeast or it was inactive to begin with – toss it and buy fresh yeast or try again!)
Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour, salt and oil and stir until the dough comes together. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for about 8 minutes, until it’s smooth and elastic, adding a little more flour if the dough is too sticky.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl and turn to coat all over. Cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for half an hour to an hour, until doubled in bulk. If you want you can let it rise more slowly in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours. Makes enough for 2-3 large pizzas.
Thanks again to Maple Leaf Prime (who produces some mighty fine, juicy chicken if you’re in Western Canada) for the free chicken, and for supporting our worldwide potluck with $25 gift cards over a dozen of you are already doing great things with. I’ll report back soon with some stories of our good deed doers!
April 08 2011 10:35 pm | chicken & turkey