Pizza Lab #24: Pumpkin Pulled Chicken Pizza
Hot on the heals of like eight billion pumpkin posts, we here at Poor Couple’s Food Guide are pleased to present to you… another freakin’ pumpkin post! Yeahhh!
I joke though, we actually love pumpkins. As Meg mentioned in Food 101: Roasting Pumpkins, they’re really awesome because they’re a festive Halloween/Fall decoration, but can also be used as food as the season starts winding down to a close. We’ve made pumpkin pizza before, though that one was a dessert. This year we instead wanted to try and harness the savory possibilities that pumpkin possesses. That’s what led to Pizza Lab #24, Pumpkin Pulled Chicken.
For starters, the most important part of this pizza was the pumpkin. In case you didn’t read the last post, pumpkins can easily be roasted in the oven as slices, with some seasoning and butter, to produce a rustic and healthy treat.
It’s a simple process and the only difference being at the end we simply cut them away from the skin, rather than scraping it off like you would normally. This way we were left with nice, wholly edible pumpkin slices.
Next up we decided to take out both the chicken and sauce in one fell swoop. For a nice Fall-themed pizza like this, we wanted something dark and maple-y. Unfortunately just pouring a bottle of dark maple syrup onto the crust would be both messy and expensive. Rather, we added maple syrup to soy sauce, added some ginger and lots of brown sugar and created a sweet glaze with it. This glaze doubled as a sauce topping for the crust, and flavor for the chicken. The sauce itself was fantastic, so we’ll likely add it as an upcoming Quick Recipe post in the future!
Meanwhile the chicken was one variable that changed up from the usual flow of Pizza Lab. For the most part we generally recommend using grilled chicken and slicing it into pieces for use on almost all pizzas that include meat, but for this one we ended up forgoing it and instead shredded the chicken after it was cooked. Part of this was because pulled chicken is all-around damn tasty, and part of it was because the pumpkin slices were already pretty big, meaning the pizza would end up crowded if we used slices.
The chicken was added to the glaze and cooked for a few minutes just so it absorbed the maple soy flavor and became coated with it. Truth be told, the pulled chicken was good enough to eat on its own. It made for Top Tier leftovers the next day. But in terms of pizza-making, we added it sparingly since the star of this experiment was the pumpkin. For once, chicken was just a sidekick. And that’s okay! Chicken doesn’t always have to be the center of attention; it is a modest foodstuff.
As mentioned, you can see that the pumpkin slices are pretty big, so it’s for the best we used shredded chicken. It’s interesting though because the pumpkin gets pretty tender in the oven, so despite taking up a lot of room, it wasn’t anywhere as overwhelming as you’d expect since it was nice and smooth, and has a somewhat subtle flavor. There’s not a lot of foods out there which could be piled on with huge inch-thick slices and not take over every other taste in a meal, but hey, pumpkin is magical.
Last and actually least for once, cheese. Considering the forefront of this pie was pumpkin and fall flavors, cheese was really the last thing on our minds. While we played around with a few ideas like provolone or sweet cheeses, it seemed that for a pizza like this, you don’t need anything fancy. Mozzarella is the safe and most sensible bet.
The resulting pizza came out pretty spot-on to what we envisioned originally. The pumpkin flavor was prominent but not out of control. And fortunately, the maple-soy glaze went well with it, since if it didn’t that’d be a pretty fundamental flaw in the pizza’s conception. As mentioned, the chicken sidekick worked really well too. It added that nice protein texture in, but sat back and let the pumpkin shine. Not to keep stepping on the back of cheese’s everywhere, but to be honest the cheese didn’t add much at all, aside from garnish. And actually, that’s pretty much the only reason it was here in the first place, since it’s not a pizza without cheese.
Interestingly enough, as far as pizzas go, this one could actually probably qualify as ‘good for you’ considering the chicken was grilled, the cheese was limited, there wasn’t really much if any oils going into it, and pumpkin is a straight up health-food. Because duh, all orange foods are great for you. Joking aside though, overall it was definitely a success and certainly worthy of becoming a nice Fall tradition.
Rustic Autumn Goodness