Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Thin Crust Chicken Masala Pizza with Spinach and Parmesan Cheese

I'm supposed to be in Green Bay right now, only I'm not; I'm sitting in my own kitchen typing this. In my two years of working in a position where I travel 50%, this is the first time that my flights have been completely cancelled. Not just delayed, but cancelled. I consider myself lucky on two accounts: 1) that this is the first time, and 2) that I found out when I was still sitting in this chair at home 2 hours before the flight. I'm just grateful I didn't have to find out at the airport or worse, wasn't stuck waiting at the airport as they delayed the flight repeatedly before they cancelled.

So since I was stuck at home I decided to try making some chicken masala since I'd been thinking about learning how to make Indian food. I started off small, though, and bought the Trader Joe's masala simmer sauce instead of making my own and just added cut-chicken breast and some frozen spinach. Heaped on top of brown jasmine rice, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't...satisfying. My two roommates had already helped themselves to some, so I just had a little bit left, maybe a third of a cup. It wasn't exactly enough to toss, but not enough for another meal either.

And then I thought, why not try to make a pizza out of it? I seriously don't even know where the idea came from, but it didn't seem absolutely far-fetched. The masala was tomato-based, and I'd seen plenty of pizzas with chicken and spinach on them. The only cheese I had in the fridge was some shredded parmesan, but why not give it a shot? I dug out The Kitchn's old thin crust pizza recipe, which thankfully did not need a lot of time to make.

Less than an hour later, I was taking the first bite of this strange, new pizza. The crust was exactly as it had been described: slightly crunchy but with a bit of a chew to it, and innocuous enough for whatever you wanted to pile on top. The pizza as a whole kind of reminded me of California Pizza Kitchen's BBQ Chicken pizza except that instead of bbq sauce, it was masala sauce, so spicier and less sweet. I only added a very light sprinkle of the parmesan so that you can barely taste it, but something about the texture kind of tempers the spiciness of the masala sauce.

Copying Bon Appetit

Thin Crust Chicken Masala Pizza with Spinach and Parmesan Cheese

makes one 8"x11" pizza

1/2 jar Trader Joe's masala simmer sauce
9 oz. chicken breast meat, cut into 1" chunks
3/4 cup frozen spinach
1 thin crust pizza dough (I used half the recipe from here)
1/4 cup shredded parmesan or mozzarella cheese

Add 1/2 cup water and chicken to the simmer sauce. Heat to boiling and then reduce to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occassionally. After 10 minutes, add the spinach and stir to mix.

Have 3 small girls eat their 3 small servings over rice and save the remaining 1/3 cup. Shred remaining chicken.

Heat oven to 500 °F and place a baking stone in the lower middle rack.

Place the pizza dough on a 12" sheet of parchment paper and use your hands to spread the dough out to 1/4" thickness or less. Top with the chicken masala mixture and spread out with a spoon. Add more masala simmer sauce if necessary to cover.

Transfer the pizza to the baking stone using a baking sheet or thin cutting board. Bake for 5 minutes and then turn 180° and bake another 3 minutes.

Sprinkle cheese on top and bake for another 2-3 minutes.

Remove from oven and let sit on a wire rack to cool for at least 5 minutes (this is when the crust gets crispy so it's worth the wait!).

Thin Crust Chicken Masala Pizza with Spinach and Parmesan Cheese

I still have one ball of pizza dough left so I think when I come back from Green Bay and Chicago I'll try making a breakfast pizza with eggs on top. Or maybe the bbq chicken pizza. We'll see....

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