Chicken Club Pizza

Hiver 2008
food and drink

BY: Marilyn Bentz-Crowley

A club sandwich is just as terrific as a pizza. Turkey is an excellent alternative to chicken.You can skip the sautéing and use cold, cooked shreds of chicken or turkey.

1 recipe pizza dough (recipe follows) or purchased dough, about 1 lb (500 g)
6 to 8 slices thick-cut bacon, preferably double-smoked
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts or 4 skinless, boneless thighs
1 cup (250 mL) thick ranch salad dressing
¾ cup (175 mL) freshly grated `Za hard-cheese blend (recipe follows) or hard-cheese of choice
3 cups (750 mL) cubed `Za soft-cheese blend (recipe follows) or soft cheese of choice
1 cup (250 mL) cherry or grape tomato halves or seeded, diced Roma tomatoes, drained
¼ cup (50 mL) coarsely chopped fresh parsley

1. Pat out dough in two 12-inch (30-cm) round oiled pizza pans for thin crusts or a half-sheet pan for medium-thick crust. If using a jelly-roll pan for thick crust, reduce topping quantities by a third. Form a rim around edges. Dough resists flattening so let rest between patting while continuing with toppings.

2. Cut bacon crosswise into ¾-inch (2-cm) pieces. Sauté in a large frying pan over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until well-rendered and just starting to brown. Remove bacon to paper towels to drain.

3. Meanwhile, slice chicken into pieces slightly smaller than those for a stir-fry. When bacon is out of the pan, increase heat to medium-high; add chicken to drippings. Stir-fry for 5 to7 minutes or until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels. (Bacon and chicken can be made ahead, covered separately and refrigerated for up to a day.)

4. Arrange oven racks with one on the lowest level and one on the upper level.

5. Preheat oven to 475°F (240°C) at least 15 minutes before baking.

6. Spread dough with ranch dressing; then sprinkle with hard-cheese mixture and chicken. Scatter evenly with cheese cubes; then top with bacon and tomatoes. Let rise, uncovered, for 10 to 20 minutes or until dough is almost doubled.

7. Place on lowest rack. Bake 5 to 10 minutes. Use a spatula to turn up one corner of the dough to check for browning. When nicely browned, move pizza to top rack for 5 to 8 minutes or until top is golden. Scatter hot pizza with parsley. To preserve crispy bottom crust, slide onto a cooling rack; use kitchen shears to cut into pieces.

Serves 4 to 6

`Za Cheese Blend
12 oz (375 g) mozzarella
12 oz (375 g) mild provolone or unsmoked, fresh scamorza
12 oz (375 g) Friulano
4 oz (125 g) Parmesan
4 oz (125 g) Romano or Asiago

1.    Using a heavy chef’s knife, dice mozzarella, provolone and Friulano into scant ½-inch (1-cm) cubes. Toss to mix. There should be about 6 cups (1.5 L).

2.    Using food processor fitted with a medium grating blade or a hand grater, grate Parmesan and Romano or Asiago. There should be about 4 cups (1 L).

3.    Transfer cubed soft cheeses to a freezer-weight reclosable plastic bag. (Heavy-gauge bags prevent cheese from picking up refrigerator odors.) Grated cheese is best placed in a rigid-sided container to avoid clumping.

4.    Chilled, cheese keeps well for a week. Or better still, freeze and use on future pizzas directly from the freezer. (Cheese used for cooking suffers little loss of quality when frozen.)

Pizza Dough

Basic Dough
1 to 2½ tsp (5 to 12 mL) bread machine or instant dry yeast
2½ to 3 cups (625 to 750 mL) bread (hard) flour or all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1¼ cups (300 mL) water
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil

1 To make dough in bread maker, use 1 tsp (5 mL) bread machine yeast and 2½ cups (625 mL) flour. Layer into canister along with salt, water and oil, using manufacturer’s directions; use dough mode. (Use the programming device so the dough is ready at suppertime.) Check at the beginning of the cycle. If dough seems too wet to form a soft ball, add some flour and if already a firm ball, add some water. When cycle is finished, place dough on oiled pans. Let rest 10 minutes, then pat out.

2. To make dough by hand, stir 2 ½ tsp (12 mL) yeast with 2½ cups (625 mL) flour and salt in a large mixing bowl; make a well in the centre. Set remaining flour aside for use in kneading. Add water and olive oil. (Water should be very warm to the touch, like bath water.) Stir until all flour is incorporated into dough. If dough seems too wet, add some flour and if too dry, add some water.  Turn out on floured surface. Knead 8 to 10 minutes using small amounts of remaining flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Place dough ball on oiled pizza pan; flip over so dough is coated with oil. Let rest, uncovered, 10 minutes―this is the first “rise.”

3. Arrange oven racks with one on the lowest level and one on the upper level.

4. Preheat oven to 475°F (240°C). Pat out dough in oiled pan(s); form a rim around edges. Spread with sauce; then sprinkle with toppings. Let rise, uncovered, for 10 to 20 minutes until dough has almost doubled in thickness.

5. Place pizza on lowest rack. Bake 5 to 10 minutes. Use a spatula to turn up one corner of the dough to check for browning. When nicely browned, move pizza to top rack for 5 to 8 minutes or until top is golden. Ovens with exposed heating elements brown crust fastest so watch carefully; then adjust baking times for future pizzas to suit your individual oven.)


Extra Crispy:

Add ¼ cup (50 mL) fine cornmeal to water; let soak at least 15 minutes before making dough to prevent graininess in baked crust.


To add a whole-grain flavour, substitute 1 cup (250 mL) spelt flour for same amount of  bread flour. Spelt is ancient, low-yield wheat popular in Europe and has a fine, almost nutty, taste.


Soak 1 cup (250 mL) fine cornmeal in 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) water for 15 minutes. Reduce bread flour to 2 cups (500 mL). Use a bread machine or mixer with dough hook to keep dough extra-moist.

Pizza stone:

To replicate a pizzeria oven, buy a ceramic “stone” or enough unglazed tiles to snugly line oven rack. Long cotton sleeves and long oven mitts prevent burns when using this technique. Place stone or tiles on lowest rack; preheat oven to 475°F (240°C) at least a half hour ahead of baking. Make a pizza with a medium to thick crust for easier handling until you become proficient. Place prepared pizza in pan or baking sheet on heated ceramic area. Bake 5 to 10 minutes; then peek at bottom. If somewhat browned and stiff enough to lift, remove pizza from oven. Loosen pizza completely, open oven and slide pizza minus pan onto hot stone. Continue baking another 5 minutes or until bottom is richly browned. Position original pan or a wooden peel next to pizza and slide on baked pizza. To preserve crispy bottom, slide onto a cooling rack; cut pizza with kitchen shears.

What to Serve