It’s Friday night, it was a particularly long week, and I decided that cooking was not specifically on my radar, at least nothing complicated. But looking in my fridge, I notice left over chicken breasts (the kind that are individually packaged are my favorite so I’m not pressured to use an entire package in one meal), Mexican cheese, cilantro, and given my love of the cuisine, I of course have all sorts of tortilla vessels in my cupboard (tostada, soft shell, hard shell, it’s all there, staring me down). And instead of doing tacos, I thought I’d cook out of the box and just…wing it. I KNOW! ME? WING IT? IMPROVISE? Yes yes I know that Frankie is a MUCH better improviser than me, but you know what, I took a stab at the whole idea and process of being spontaneous and I think I did a pretty good job, considering it was pretty easy what direction I was going to go in.
And instead of your everyday quesadilla, I decided to do a Mexican pizza! It’s easy, fun, and I can play with the filling and topping combinations for ultimate yummage! Looking back at my fridge, there’s a jalapeno (also usually keep one or two of these on hand every week), and some limes, a little leftover cilantro, and some tomatoes! Excellent! Can you see it coming together yet? Can you guess what I did next?
I BLISTERED THE JALAPENO! I mean, I did a few other things before that, but I’m a total convert now. If I can blister the pepper, I’m going to blister the heck out of it, and boy oh boy am I ever so happy that I did!! I’ve used raw jalapeno in my mexican chicken before, just cooking it out a little, but blistering it first and then cooking it with the chicken and spices, WHAT A DIFFERENCE! The flavor profile is twice as robust and the heat is more subtle, but by no means lost (though I did keep a few seeds just for a little extra kick for the man who loves the spicy stuff). And if that’s all you learn from this post, I’m going to be 100% okay with that. (BLISTER! BLISTER! BLISTER!)
What I didn’t improvise, or rather, didn’t have to was the seasoning. I don’t know about you, but I find the prepackaged stuff to be just a little bit on the…processed side of things. It’s too salty and it’s got a real metallic twang to it that I just really don’t like on my tongue. So, I don’t use it unless I’m out of a certain spice for my homemade version, which I’ve included below. Frankly, using a homemade spice mix, rather than the prepackaged stuff makes my food taste more authentic anyway, in addition to being fast to make and a much healthier alternative. So in short, save your dollar for something better, and buff up your spice rack a little more, especially given how versatile the spices that are included in the mix are. When am I not using crushed red chili pepper? (Pretty much never, that’s when. Okay, maybe not always when I bake, but I definitely use it a lot.)
Okay, so we have our fun little twist of jalapeno, and we’ve thrown it into the chicken, and we’ve got it all seasoned up nicely (with some lime) and now we add a little Cholula! Yes, Cholula Hot Sauce, mostly because it’s delicious, and ever since my one friend, who buys the sauce by the gallon served it on some delicious grilled chicken tacos when I spent an afternoon with her and her husband on their deck, I haven’t been able to have a taco without it. I don’t want to say it makes the dish, but it does help make the dish, a kick that isn’t abrasive, but just perfectly peppery. So if you’ve never tried it, give it a go! It’s not necessary though if you’re not a hot or spicy food lover. And there’s our filling! Hooray! Now, CREATE! I’ve included the combination that I used, but this is where your desires for how you want your pizza to taste is all up to you and your preferences! That’s the beauty of this dish. Not only is it quick and easy, but it’s fun to make, and the combinations are absolutely endless! Throw the tomatoes inside, keep them on the outside, or both. Use one cheese, use two, use many. Include more toppings than I did, maybe some guac! The point is, sometimes, at the end of a very long work week, when the last thing you want to do is cook, you keep things fun and easy, and this dish is a perfect one to make any Friday better. Happy Eating!
Quick [Improvised] Chicken Mexican Pizzas
- 3 chicken breasts, cut into small bite sized pieces
- 1 jalapeno, charred, seeded, and finely diced
- 1 tablespoon Cholula Hot Sauce (use less or add more to taste)
- Homemade Taco Seasoning (recipe below) OR 1 packet of preferred taco seasoning (about 3 tablespoons worth)
- 1 part chili powder
- 1 part ground cumin
- 1 part garlic powder
- 1 part onion powder
- 1/2 part crushed red pepper (use less or add more to taste)
- Lime Juice (from 1/2-1 lime)
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 cup Queso Chihuahua Cheese, for inside pizza
- More for outside pizza or use a different cheese
- 8 Tortillas
- Optional: 1/2 to 1 cup Montery Jack or Taco Cheese
- Garnish: Cilantro, Sour Cream, more Cholula hot sauce, and Beef or Roma Tomato (finely diced)
- Preheat oven to 375°. Lay two of the tortillas on a baking sheet and sprinkle the Chihuahua Cheese on top, giving it a nice layer.
- Before you cook the chicken, char the jalapeno over a burner on your stove, and when charred on all sides, place in a small bowl and cover (with cling wrap, foil, or a towel) for a few minutes. Remove the skin, cut off the top, remove the seeds (or leave a little if you want an extra kick of heat), and finely dice. Set aside.
- Over medium-low heat, start to cook the chicken pieces, and halfway through, add the taco seasoning, jalapeno, lime juice, and Cholula hot sauce. Cook until done, then remove from heat.
- Place 1 or 2 scoops of the chicken on top of one of the tortillas with cheese, sprinkle a little bit of cilantro and place another tortilla on top. Do the same for the other cheesey tortilla. Bake for about 10 minutes (or until Chihuhua cheese is completely melted), then remove from the oven.
- While the tortillas are baking, dice up the tomato, and when initial baking is done, sprinkle either more Chihuahua cheese or another cheese of your choice on top of each tortilla pizza, and top with some of the tomato. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes (or until top cheese is melted).
- Remove pizzas from oven, garnish with a dollop of sour cream, more cilantro and Cholula, then serve hot!