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Recipe: Mexicana and chicken pizzas

One of my earliest jobs was working at a pizza restaurant as the most useless waiter anybody ever met.

Ever since then I’ve tipped pretty well.

The pizzas at this place were particularly good, and thus I engaged in a quest to achieve the ultimate pizza. This Mexicana is the latest iteration of that quest.

The chicken is because I fancied it.

I everyone else did too, as I wasn’t quite quick enough on the draw to get a pic of the whole thing…

dav

The base:

To make the base I’m going with Gordon Ramsay’s pizza base recipe. I’m only making three pizzas though, so I’ve cut down the quantities a bit.

Also I’m pretty sure the amount of salt he recommends is a typo, so I’ve cut down on that too.

  • 10g sachets dried yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp golden caster sugar
  • Just under a 250ml cup of warm water
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 375g bread flour
  • 1.5 tsp fine sea salt
  • Some tomato paste

When I first started trying to make pizza, one of the things that puzzled me was why my bread didn’t rise the way I’d noticed it rise at my then workplace.

Speaking to the owner of the place, he said he used bottled water in order to avoid the chlorine in tap water.

So with this pizza dough I mix the dried yeast and sugar – and use water that had been previously boiled in the kettle in order to reduce the amount of chlorine in it.

I then give the yeast a bit of time to grow, and mix my bread flour and salt.

What Gordon does at this point is make a sort of well, and pour in the oil and yeast mix, which he then brings together into a ball which he kneads until smooth.

This is very virtuous and probably the right way to do it. Personally however, I just stick it in a mixer with a dough hook and set it going for ten minutes.

Once it is smooth I put some more olive oil on it and I let it rest in a warm place for an hour or so to rise.

The mince:

  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp coriander spice
  • A bit of butter and oil for frying
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 diced red pepper
  • 500g mince
  • 1/2 a beef stock cube
  • 1 diced tomato
  • 1 chili
  • 2 tsp garlic

Stick the chili flakes, pepper, salt and coriander spice in a pestle and mortar and work out your general frustrations, turning them into a pretty nice spice powder.

Melt some butter with a bit of oil, this keeps the butter from burning, and pour your spice mix in to fry for about a minute, basically just until you can smell it.

Then add your onion and pepper. Stir fry until the onion goes translucent.

Now throw in the mince and stir fry it too. The idea is that you want to eliminate any lumps because when this goes on the pizza, you’re going to want it to go on in a thin layer.

Add your half stock cube, the tomato, the chili and the garlic. Turn your pan down to a low simmer and cook until dry.

The chicken: 

  • 1 thinly sliced chicken breast
  • 1 tablespoon yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • (optional) 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

To get your chicken breast thinly sliced, do it from half frozen. The reason I’ve got with it like this is because I’ve got a horror of raw chicken, and doing it thin should guarantee that it is cooked through on the pizza.

Other than that, there isn’t anything all that fancy here – just mix everything together and let it marinate.

The Yogurt:

  • 2 tablespoons double thick yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon roughly chopped coriander herb
  • zest of a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic

Just mix it together with a spoon.

The Pizzas:

  • The base
  • The toppings
  • (Optional) Some sliced jalepinos and peppadews
  • Some grated cheddar and mozzarella cheese

So now it is time to assemble the pizzas.

First, turn your oven on to about 250 degrees celsius. You want it as hot as it will go really, but this is the normal top temperature you can achieve.

Now divide up your risen dough into three balls. Flour them, and flour the surface you’re working on. I roll mine to about 2mm thick, but you can go thicker if you prefer a thicker base.

If it starts to stick, turn it over, add more flour and keep rolling. I tend to find Rawhide starts playing in my head at this point.

I’ve got specific pizza tins to cook mine in, but if you don’t have those a baking tray will do, you’ll just end up with a squarer pizza.

Anyway whichever way you go, rub some olive oil on the bottom of the tin, and then add your rolled out pizza base.

This is where the tomato paste comes in – you’re going to spread a thin layer of that on top. You want a thin layer here.

Now you can add your toppings. For the Mexicana you want to spread your mince as thin as you can get it.

This will mean as it cooks, it comes out with a really nice carmelised umami flavour. The fact that you’re putting a thin layer on this pizza is why you’re going for such a strongly flavoured mince to start off with.

Do the same with the chicken pizza.

Now add the cheese, and any sliced jalapenos or peppadews you want.

Once the oven is hot enough slot it in for about seven minutes.

When the seven minutes is up – turn the pizzas around, just to get them evenly cooked, and leave them for about seven minutes longer.

This part of the cooking is a bit less than precise, you may find it takes a minute or two longer to cook, so check it at this point.

Generally if your pizza is sticking to the bottom of the tin, it isn’t quite ready yet. It will still taste pretty good though, you’ll just need a knife and fork.

Take the pizzas out of the oven and drizzle your yogurt mix on top. Slice them up and enjoy.

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