This recipe knocks out two dinners in one day: Slow cooker shredded chicken, which is great in tacos, and Salsa Verde Chicken Pizza.
Tomatillos are one of those things that I always say I'm going to use but never do. Last year and the year before they went in and out of season, heaping baskets full of bright green and deep purple varieties, and I never once thought to bring some home.
It wasn't that I didn't like their tangy citrus flavor, it was more that the buxom heirloom tomatoes that ripened around the same time would always steal the show, edging the firmer, husk-veiled tomatillos into the shadows. But recently, when I stumbled upon a few different recipes for slow cooker salsa verde chicken, I knew I was fresh out of excuses.
On Tuesday morning I made the salsa, and then I let the slow cooker work its magic all day long. Dinner that night was tender, spicy shredded chicken tacos, but before I served them up I made sure to save half a cup of chicken and salsa for tonight's pizza. Knocking out two dinners with one base recipe was quite the time saver, and it made me feel like a kitchen superhero. For the pizza, I figured I would keep it simple: salsa verde as the sauce, with shredded chicken, queso fresco cheese, scallions, black olives, and cilantro. The result was just as delicious as you would imagine, and not bad to look at, either. After one bite, I was already brainstorming all the other Mexican-inspired pizzabilities . . .
Salsa Verde Chicken Pizza
- Cutting board and knife
- slow cooker
- large rimmed baking sheet
- Food processor
- Rolling pin (optional)
- Large rimmed baking sheet or baking stone/steel
- Pizza peel (optional)
For the shredded chicken (makes about 3 cups)
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- Fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ½ medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 bottle lager or other light beer
- 2 cups Salsa Verde (homemade or store-bought)
- Juice of 1 lime
for the salsa verde (makes 3 cups)
- 2 pounds tomatillos, husked
- 2 serrano chiles (or 3 if you like it hot)
- 1 poblano chile
- 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt or coarse sea salt
- ¾ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
For the pizza
- 1 (14- to 16-ounce) ball pizza dough
- 5 ounces queso fresco, crumbled
- ½ to ⅔ cup shredded cooked chicken (use the recipe that follows, or shred the meat of a store-bought rotisserie chicken)
- ½ cup salsa verde (use the recipe that follows or your favorite store-bought version)
- 2 scallions, white and light green parts sliced
- 1 (2.5-ounce) can sliced black olives, drained
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
To make the shredded chicken
- Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and arrange them in the bottom of a slow cooker. Scatter the onion over top, sprinkle in the cumin, and then pour in the beer, salsa, and lime juice. Using tongs, stir the braising mixture and turn the chicken to coat.
- Cook for 3 hours on high heat or 7 hours on low heat, until the chicken falls apart easily. Transfer the chicken to a bowl and shred using two forks.
To make the salsa verde
- Preheat the broiler to high with a rack set close to the broiler.
- Rinse the tomatillos under warm water to remove any stickiness, then arrange them on a rack in a broiler pan along with the serrano chiles, poblanos, and garlic cloves. Broil the vegetables for about 7 minutes, flipping them halfway through, until they are softened and partly charred.
- Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the broiled vegetables to a cutting board. When they are cool enough to handle, peel the garlic cloves and trim and seed the chiles.
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the tomatillos, garlic, chiles, onion, and salt. Process until smooth, then stir in the cilantro and lime juice. The salsa will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days.
To make the pizza
- Preheat the oven to 500°F (if using a baking sheet) or as high as it will go (if using a baking stone/steel; place the stone/steel in the bottom third of the oven before you start preheating). Let the oven preheat for at least 30 minutes. Then, if you’re using a baking stone or steel, switch the oven to Broil on high.
- Stretch or roll out your dough to a 12- to 14-inch circle, then transfer it to an oiled or parchment-lined baking sheet or a lightly floured pizza peel (if using a baking stone/steel).
- Spoon the salsa onto the dough and spread it evenly, leaving a ½-inch border of dough. Sprinkle the shredded chicken over the sauce, followed by all but 2 tablespoons of the scallions and all of the olives. Top the pizza with all but 2 tablespoons of the crumbled cheese.
- Transfer the pizza to the oven and bake until the crust is golden and the cheese has browned in spots—8 to 10 minutes on the baking sheet, 6 to 8 minutes on the baking stone/steel.
- Remove the pizza from the oven and let it cool for at least 5 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of scallions and queso fresco over top, then the cilantro. Slice and serve.
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