02 May 2009

Spicy smoked chicken pizza

Did you know that per capita consumption of pizza in France is higher than in any other European country? That's what I heard on the TéléMatin morning show last week. The average French person eats 20 pizzas a year. All around France, 8.2 million pizzas are consumed each day, compared with 2 million sandwiches and 770,000 hamburgers.

The French eat 10 kg — 22 lbs — of pizza per person on an annual basis. Italians eat only 5 kg, or 11 lbs, and Americans are the champs, a per capita consumption of 13 kg (nearly 30 lbs.) of pizza every year. Here's a web site with all the details, in French.

A salsa of diced raw tomato, roasted red peppers, and
cooked white asparagus in olive oil with fresh oregano

Yesterday Walt and I made pizzas — one 12" pie each. He used a recipe for pizza crust that Loulou posted on her blog a few days ago, and it turned out great. The dough rose up perfectly. When cooked, it came out crusty not only around the edges but also on the bottom — no sogginess. The edges puffed up nicely and there was a tender, bready interior.

Spicy smoked chicken over the salsa

I think Walt ended up using less flour than called for in the recipe. He said he could "feel" when the dough had absorbed enough flour, and he stopped there. He used maybe 2½ cups of flour. And he used about 8 grams of yeast, because he looked up Fleishmann's on the web and found that that was about how much yeast they put in an American packet. A French packet is only 5.5 grams.

For the toppings, we decided we wanted spicy smoked chicken. We used to get a Wolfgang Puck smoked chicken pizza in San Francisco. There was a Puck pizza parlor in Macy's Cellar on Union Square, and later we could find the same pizza for sale frozen at the supermarket. The one we took home from Macy's was better, of course.

Grated raclette cheese over the pizza pie, ready to bake

For our version, I cooked four chicken drumsticks in a frying pan in a little olive oil. After they had browned a little on all sides, I turned the heat way down and put a lid on the pan. The chicken steamed like that, in its own juices, for 30 minutes. Once it was out of the pan and had cooled down, I took all the meat off the bones, trimmed it up well, and then cut the meat into chunks. Callie got all the trimmings as a sauce over her lunchtime kibble.

I seasoned the chunks of chicken meat with some liquid hickory smoke (just a drop or two), some Tabasco Chipotle sauce (also smoky), and some red pepper flakes. I put thechicken back in the frying pan and let it cook on medium heat for just two or three minutes to let all the flavors blend. Some purists might not like the idea of using liquid smoke, but I think it's good in very small doses and handy once in a while.

Spicy smoked chicken pizza

We had three little tomatoes, which I cut into fairly fine dice. We also had a few pieces of roasted red pepper with garlic cloves in olive oil in the fridge. I chopped up the peppers and poured all that over the tomatoes in a bowl. We also had five white asparagus spears left over, so I cut those into ½" pieces and added them to my tomato "salsa", along with another drizzle of olive oil.

To top the pies, Walt dipped the tomato salsa out with a slotted spoon and spread it over the pizza dough. Then he arranged smoked chicken pieces over that, and spread grated cheese over all. For these pizzas, I decided to try using a French raclette cheese. It melts smoothly and is tasty. Often we use mozzarella and parmesan cheeses on our pizzas, but the raclette was a big success.

The flavored olive oil left in the bottom of the salsa bowl was really good drizzled over the cooked pizza, by the way.

Just two slices left...

We use a pizza stone and preheat our oven and the stone to maximum temperature, which is 275C — 525ºF — to bake the pizzas. It doesn't take long to bake them.

Thanks to Loulou for the good pizza crust recipe. We'll be making these again.


  1. YumYumYum ... must try that myself one day. I have seen Loulou's post and the recipe intrigued me. I'm not sure if I'm capable of making it myself, but I'm certainly going to try.
    Luckily you didn't put in the spices from the very beginning ... it would have blown poor Callie's head off! Or maybe she likes spicy food ??? :)) Martine

  2. We eat pizza every couple of weeks. It's our standard busy mid-week dinner. I like to keep a couple of pizza bases in the freezer always. I use Sally Schneider's recipe from A New Way to Cook.

    My tip (also from SS) for adding smoke flavour is to grind up Lapsang Souchong tea into a powder and use it as a seasoning. (It makes CHM laugh – he drinks the stuff – can you believe it!)

  3. Hi Martine, no, I didn't put the spices on the chicken when I first cooked the drumsticks because I knew Callie would be getting all the scraps...er, trimmings.

    Susan, I've seen your recipes using Lapsang Souchong tea for smokiness, but I haven't tried it yet. I've tried the Lapsang tea myself, but I can't say it's my favorite. Meanwhile, I'll use the liquid hickory smoke I brought back from North Carolina. The ingredients listed on the bottle are Water and Natural Hickory Smoke Concentrate (whatever that is).

  4. Hi Susan. I sure had a good laugh! LOL

    Once I had a cup of that delicious Lapsang Souchong tea at the office and someone asked what was burning! LOL again.

  5. So happy that you enjoyed the pizza dough recipe! I made some again today, but turned it into calzones that I stuffed with spinach, feta, roasted red pepper and grilled onions. Delicious combination.
    Thanks for the raclette cheese idea. That sounds great!

  6. The most popular topping for Pizza in Korea is sweet potato.

    Basically it's a pizza base, tomato sauce, a little cheese, and then mashed sweet potato is piped on in a lattice pattern.

    It's... different. Definately.

  7. Looks good but I'm baffled by the stats, bearing in mind the number of take away pizza places in the UK!

    Something you get in France but not in UK is the Pizza Van. In LGP, there's one turns up every Sat evening and their pizzas are great - we even have a loyalty card! Of course a beer in the Prehisto while its cooking doesn't go amiss either.

  8. Bring it over and we will try it out in Tom's oven.

    Tom is making three pizzas tonight too: Mushroom, potato, and something with red peppers.

  9. Wow, that looks delicious!


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