what a better way to bond with your guy this Valentine’s Day weekend than to get your hands dirty in the kitchen together. this recipe revolves around bacon, bbq sauce and pizza…you can’t go wrong. my boyfriend enjoys bbq chicken pizzas, and i thought i’d give it a whirl, but i really wanted to take the ingredients up a notch. i made the components earlier in the day, and we got together and assembled the pizza together that evening.
first step was cook the bacon. i made sure to do this first since i wanted to use the bacon fat to cook the remaining ingredients in. i’ve found that the easiest way to cook up some bacon that you’re going to crumble anyway, is to take bacon right out of the fridge, pull out as many pieces as you need, leave them stuck together, and slice them with a sharp knife. once they get room temperature they start to get stretchy and a little more difficult to cut. the bonus side to this method is that you don’t need to mess around with crumbling the bacon by hand and getting your hands all greasy after cooking.
i sprinkled my bacon with a healthy dose of pepper to take it up a notch. peppered bacon is super expensive, so this route is a little less glamorous, but definitely more cost effective. once your bacon is cooked, remove it from the pan and drain using a paper towel lined plate. try to avoid eating all of it because it will be set aside for quite some time. also, your man will probably try to steal some too…so either make more than is called for, or put it away. far, far away. at this point, i put the majority of the bacon grease in a glass dish and set it aside for caramelizing some of the onions in. i didn’t want my chicken swimming in bacon grease.
while the pan is still hot, cook up your diced chicken. the grocery store i go to has marinated chicken in their meat department, so i grabbed some chicken that had already been marinating in bbq sauce. it’s not necessary, but i thought it might further drive home the bbq theme. once the chicken is cooked, set aside in another dish. i added about a tablespoon of prepared bbq sauce to the chicken so it would continue its marinating until we were ready to assemble the pizza.
next step is to slice up the red onion thinly, and i mean thinly. about 1/8″ thick. p.s. check out my super artsy photograph above featuring my new favorite knife. to the onion, add about a tablespoon of the bacon grease, and another of olive oil. season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with just a little bit of honey which helps with the caramelization process.
this photo was taken about half way through cooking. i should note that this is the one and only time that i properly and successfully ended up with caramelized onions. i found this awesome article by Bon Appetit about caramelizing onions. it made me realize i had been doing just about everything wrong in the past. this process takes a long time, like 40-45 minutes, so be prepared to spend some time on it, and be patient. once the onions are done caramelizing, de-glaze the pan with a splash of balsamic vinegar, and be sure to scrap up the little flavor bits on the bottom of the pan. you can really use whatever you want to de-glaze the pan…my initial thought was to use some beer, but i liked the idea of the sweetness of the balsamic a little better. plus it was early in the day.
i am not a baker, and i do not mess around with dough. i have very little patience for measuring and mixing and kneading and whatever other tedious things come with baking. buy store bought pizza dough and save yourself the frustration. we used the store brand pizza dough you get in the refrigerated section that rolls out, and it was just fine. we both really prefer the thinnest possible crust, and this was not bad, but i think i’m going to look into other options for thin crust next time we make pizza together. or maybe try to roll it out thinner, and since i don’t have a rolling pin, it might end up a little shotty, but i’m willing to try.
now the fun part. the assembly.
spread a small amount of bbq sauce on your outstretched dough. i am notorious for too much sauce, salad dressing, etc…more of a delicious thing isn’t always better. a light spread will do. we placed the caramelized onions down next, spreading them out so there weren’t large globs of them. next the chicken and the bacon. i am a jalapeno lover, and you can see on the upper half that we added some pickled nacho-style jalapenos on my half 🙂 then covered in shredded colby-jack cheese.
the pizza turned out great, although we both agreed that the bacon got a little lost. more might be the answer…yep, more bacon is always the answer.
bbq chicken, bacon and caramelized onion pizza
4 (or more) slices of bacon, diced
salt and pepper to taste
1 chicken breast, diced in 1/2″ to 3/4″ cubes. (think small bite size…or the size you’d give a toddler?)
1/2 cup + 1T bbq sauce, divided
1/2 small red onion, about 1/8″ thick
1T bacon grease
1T olive oil
Drizzle of honey
Splash of balsamic vinegar, or beer, or wine, or even water for deglazing
1 store bought pizza crust
1-1/2 cup shredded colby-jack cheese (we used the 2% cheese…you know, to make this healthy)
6-8 slices of nacho-style jalapenos (optional)
1. pre-heat oven according to the directions on your pizza dough.
2. heat a cast iron (or your favorite non-stick pan) over medium heat.
3. add diced bacon and add pepper to taste. cook thoroughly and drain on a paper towel lined plate. reserve about 1/2 of the bacon grease for later use.
4. add diced chicken to same pan and cook through, about 10 minutes. remove from pan and add 1T of bbq sauce to cooked chicken, stirring to coat. set aside.
5. in heated pan, add about 1T reserved bacon grease, and 1T of olive oil. add thinly sliced red onion and turn heat down to low. If you’re using a gas stove, the flame should barely be on. if you’re using an electric oven, turn it down to the lowest temperature you can. season with a little salt and pepper, then drizzle with a little honey to give the caramelization process a little head start. you will need a solid 40 minutes or so for these, stirring frequently. don’t forget to read this article on caramelized onions before starting this.
6. once it looks like the onions are about done (probably at the 35 minutes mark or so) add a splash of whatever deglazing liquid you choose. start small. you don’t want to drown your onions or make it soup. you just need the pan to sizzle a little, then use your wooden spoon or utensil of choice and scrap the bottom of the pan. set aside once done. cook for another 5 minutes or so.
7. roll out (or unwrap) your chosen pizza dough. top with 1/2 cup of your favorite bbq sauce. use your judgment here…if you prefer more sauce, or think that might be too much for the size of your dough, adjust the recipe as needed.
8. spread out your caramelized onions, chicken, jalapenos (optional) and the 1-1/2 cup cheese.
9. bake according to the directions on your dough.
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