I’ve long resisted putting chicken on a pizza. To my taste and sensibilities, chicken doesn’t work well with red sauce; turning to barbecue sauce just muddies the mix. So when I hit on using spinach as a base for this pizza, I realized I was onto a good thing.
This pizza rocks. Ham gives the spinach a zing that balances the chicken’s tender flavor without overwhelming it. The mix of Swiss cheese against the crust and aged mozzarella lightly baked on the surface strikes just the right note. And by making use of a double bake – once to set the crust and heat the spinach base, the other to reheat the precooked chicken – the whole thing comes together perfectly.
So here you go, a fresh take on flavor for a fabulous Spring!
Makes one 12” pizza
1 pound of fresh spinach, washed and drained
2 ounces of ham
2 Tablespoons of olive oil, divided
12 ounces of pizza dough (use your own or click HERE for our favorite)
2 ounces of Swiss cheese, sliced thinly
4 or 5 ounces of cooked chicken breast
Salt and pepper to taste
2 ounces of shredded mozzarella
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
Wilt the spinach: Wash and drain the spinach. Chop the ham into ¼” dice. Set a 12” non-stick frying pan over medium heat and add 1Tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté the ham for 3 minutes and then add the spinach (in 2 lots, if necessary). After a minute, turn the spinach over all the way and sauté the other side for a minute or two. The spinach should be mostly wilted but still bright green. Remove to a bowl. Once cooled somewhat, squeeze the spinach leaves by handfuls to remove most of the liquid. Discard the liquid and separate the leaves.
Prepare the chicken: You can use roasted chicken breast, prepared strips such as those available at Trader Joe’s, or you can fry a boneless breast. If you cook chicken specifically for this pizza, undercook it slightly for best results. Slice the chicken into strips ¼” thick, toss with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Make the pizza: Spread dough out on a floured counter to make a 12” round. Move to a wooden peel that has cornmeal on it and make sure the pizza blank ‘slips’. Put slices of Swiss cheese on the dough and sprinkle the spinach/ham mixture all over the pizza, leaving a margin at the edge.
1st Bake: Set a pizza stone on the center rack of a conventional oven and preheat it to 475°. If you have a woodfired oven, burn a fire for 2 hours until the ash turns white on the sides of the oven; move the fire to the back and sweep the floor clean. Slip the pizza directly onto the pizza stone or the floor of the WFO and bake it for 3 or 4 minutes until the crust becomes puffy and the spinach is steaming.
2nd Bake: Pull the pizza back out of the oven and quickly top with chicken strips and mozzarella. Sprinkle with oregano and send the pizza back into the oven. Bake for 3 or 4 more minutes until the mozzarella is just beginning to brown. Remove, let cool for a few minutes, and dig in.
Springtime? Bring it on!
Copyright ©2012 by Don Hogeland