How did I get from Chicken Salad to Here?

Today was a total fail on all accounts.  I woke up to early, couldn’t get myself out of bed, and then by the time I was up I was already running late.  Do you ever get those days? The worst.

In these hot months of summer, some of the “go to” Southern Staples to have on hand are chicken salad, pimento cheese, deviled eggs, basically anything kept in the refrigerator with some mayo thrown in.  It’s how we do it I guess.  And when it comes to chicken salad, there is allllways a debate about the best.

You can have a disagreement over almost every ingredient in Chicken Salad.  It seems so simple but Lord Honey in the South, you don’t play with the way things were done unless you do them right. My day was planned on tasting types to perfect my three (yes three) go to chicken salad recipes.

But damn it in the midst of baking (not boiling) my all white meat chicken, I caught myself perusing through pinterest and found a recipe for pizza dough that made no sense to me.  Cold water for active yeast.  Might’ve well have said to add sprinkles to asparagus or something.  That isn’t right.  I’m so meticulous in my bread making that I temp out my water/milk mixture to the perfect 110-118° window to get that yeast a workin’. So this whole cold water thing stopped me dead in my culinary tracts.

Chicken was still baked just fine and “hopefully” chicken salad will be in the works tomorrow.  But now, I had a pizza dough challenge. I halved the recipe because I knew this couldn’t turn out alright and you know… it made for some pretty flippin’ great pizza crust! I was so surprised.

How have I not known this for so long? Wow I can actually hone in on the benefits of using the cold water.  It was crazy.  Let’s just say next time I’m making pizza, cold water will be a must.

If you have a dough hook and a kitchenaid mixer this dough is pretty darn easy to pull together.  And thankfully I have an amazing spot to let dough rise so its warmed oh so naturally by the sun.   The dough didn’t rise nearly as much of course. But it did rise. And then it baked. And then it was beautiful. Gooey. Delicious. Cheesy.  Fresh basil and mozzarella really make all the difference in elevating a good pizza from a great one.  Well they elevate just about any and everything but you get the point.

The best part of the pizzas are using the a cooking stone.  Long ago my mom bought one and its been used as a glorified cookie sheet until me.  If you want that real brick oven pizza taste, pop that stone in and crank up the heat on your oven for a long time.  In hindsight I could’ve waited until a cooler day but my blinding skepticism of this cold water dough kept me driving forward.

Add your yeast, sugar, salt, and flout to your dough hook and knead for 8 minutes.  Set your oven to at least 500° after your dough has kneaded. Separate the dough into two or three pieces, coat in olive oil, cover with plastic wrap and let rest (for 45 minutes-hour).

Sprinkle out cornmeal onto a wooden surface to help dough spread. I try to form somewhat of an even circle pretty thin on the inside before placing on the counter. Then spread the dough into desired shape and top with whatever toppings of your choosing (Dont worry! I’ll finish that part in a minute).  Once your toppings are secure, quickly slide the pizza onto the stone in the oven and watch that bad boy get hot! You can start assembling your next pizza while the other bakes (about 8-10).

I like to warm mine up by throwing on the grill for a few minutes to keep that crust nice and crispy!

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Yes I had a slice before everyone got home… and it was so worth it

The Ingredients:

  • 5 c flour (+ extra for dusting)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Active Dry Yeast
  • 1/2 tsp Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 1/2 cups COLD Water
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • Corn meal (for dusting surface)
  • Toppings of your choosing!

Everyone’s toppings are their own, but always drizzle in a little olive oil and maybe rub some roasted garlic.  My choices? Fresh mozzarella, provolone, Parmigiano Regianno, Ricotta, marinara, Arkansas tomatoes, and fresh basil. Yum!

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Today, I failed.  I set out to make chicken salad, got two steps in and abandoned that at the reading of a recipe.  But the pizza was pretty phenomenal, so maybe it wasn’t a fail after all.

❤ E

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