When I hosted a big party last year, the first thing I wanted to figure out was what food to serve as, in my opinion, there are three things that make a party. 1. Having great guests 2. Serving delicious food 3. a great playlist to get everyone in a happy and festive mood.
The playlist was easy thanks to Songza.com (if you’ve never checked out this music app I would HIGHLY recommend you do. It’s awesome); and the ‘great guests’ part was no problem since my friends are amazing (: The booze was not an issue either. My husband is a bartender and everyone brought something to drink anyway. We set up a cocktail bar and ensured there was a variety of liquor, beer and wine, sparkling water, juices, etc., along with various fruits and herbs out for people to mix their own drinks.
So all I really needed to worry about was the food.
I wanted a ‘signature dish’ for the party that would have people talking. At least ONE thing that showed I had put some effort into it, as opposed to just going to Costco and picking up a bunch of frozen appetizers. (Not that Costco doesn’t have AMAZING appetizers, because they do. I also served some of that stuff so I didn’t have to spend all night in the kitchen). The food isn’t as important as the host having FUN and mingling with guests at their own party so try to find a balance between personal touches and effortless dishes that won’t stress you out!
I decided to do something fun and interactive. Enter the Jerk Chicken and Mango Flatbread. It was really cool because I had all the ingredients prepared before everyone got there so when people started getting hungry, they all gathered in the kitchen, drinks in hand, and watched me roll out the dough and put on the toppings. (I also put out a whole bunch of other toppings so guests could custom make their own flatbreads. The kids especially LOVED making their own pizzas!!).
The ‘showstopper’ of the night was definitely the Jerk Chicken Flatbread though. I literally had several people at the party tell me it was ‘the best pizza they had ever eaten’. Granted, hungry guests who’ve already had 2 or 3 drinks are incredibly easy to please! Haha.
Now I’m not saying that this will be the best pizza you’ve ever eaten because I’m not that pretentious, but I can almost guarantee that you’ll be extremely happy with it. It’s the PERFECT dish to wow guests with and serve on a summer night (or any time of year) with a big glass of your favourite white wine or prosecco.
TIME SAVING TIP: I suggest making the Jerk Marinade way in advance and freezing it so it doesn’t feel like you’re doing so much work all at once. There are a lot of ingredients in this so I also strongly suggest making 4 – 10 times the recipe and freezing this marinade in a zip lock bag. Then you can just spoon some out right out of the freezer whenever you want it!
STEP 1 – Marinate the Chicken one to two days ahead (I use skinless, boneless chicken thighs but you could also use chicken breast if you want less fat)
JERK CHICKEN MARINADE
- 1/2 bunch green onion
- 1 Tbsp fresh ginger – peeled
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 small white onion (about 1 cup)
- 2 – 3 scotch bonnet peppers – seeded unless you want serious heat! (habanero peppers would work too)
- 1.5 Tbsp fresh thyme (or 1 tsp of dried thyme)
- 1 lime juice (about 1/4 cup)
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp allspice
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon (freshly grated is preferable)
- 3/4 tsp nutmeg
- 2 Tbsp white vinegar
1. Combine all in food processor and puree. 2. Cover chicken in marinate and let sit at least 4 hours, but preferably over night.
STEP 2 – Make the pizza dough (make this dough 2 to 4 hours before you want to use it. You COULD just buy the dough, but I love making dough. It’s so simple and immensely satisfying. Plus then you get the bragging rights!)
PIZZA DOUGH – (Yields enough for 2 large pizzas)
- 2 1/4 tsp dry instant yeast
- 1/2 tsp sugar (or honey)
- 1 cup warm water
- 1/2 cup milk (or you could just use 1.5 cups warm water and omit the milk)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 1/3 cups flour (START WITH 3 CUPS AND ADD MORE AS NEEDED UNTIL DOUGH IS NO LONGER ‘GUMMY’)
METHOD – The method is VERY important here. If you don’t make the dough properly, it won’t rise properly and you’ll end up with a dense, cardboard like pizza.
1. Dissolve yeast in warm water. 2. Add milk and sugar and whisk together. 3. Let sit for a few minutes. 4. Add oil and salt and mix all together. 5. Now add about 3 cups of the flour and start to combine. 6. Add in the remaining flour as needed and knead the mixture until it’s all combined and forms a nice roundish ball.
NOTE: The dough should just come together. It shouldn’t be wet enough that it’s sticky, but you don’t want it so dry that it’s flaky and falling apart.
7. Once you’ve formed a nice ball, turn the oven on for a minute and then turn off as soon as it’s warm. 8. Put the ball of dough in a clean dry bowl with some olive oil in the bottom (so it won’t stick once it rises). 9. Put a cloth over the bowl and place in oven for 1 – 1.5 hours. 10. Take dough out of bowl, knead it a few more times and then let rest again for 5 minutes. 11. Using your hands, press out the dough onto lightly greased baking trays (I use 2 sheet trays ).
ONCE THE CHICKEN and VEGGIES ARE COOKED PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 450 DEGREES.
COOKING: Put trays of dough into oven and cook for about 6 minutes. Take dough out, add toppings and put back in to finish cooking for another 6 – 8 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
STEP 3 – BBQ the Jerk Chicken and grilled vegetables (you can do this a day ahead!)
- 6 to 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs – marinating in Jerk Marinade from 4 hours to 2 days
- 1/2 red bell pepper
- 1/2 orange bell pepper
- 1/4 large red onion
- 1 tsp garlic – minced
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
(Ignore the mushrooms and zucchini in the below picture. I just threw it on for another recipe to save time)
1. Turn BBQ heat on high. 2. Toss veggies in garlic, oil, salt and pepper (this can be done hours ahead of time) 3. Once Temperature on BBQ reaches around 400 degrees, put chicken and veggies on grill and cook meat for about 4 – 5 minutes per side or until cooked through (this will vary depending on the size and type of your chicken). 4. Cook veggies until just starting to char but still firm. About 2 minutes per side. 5. Remove all from grill and let cool.
STEP 4 – “Smashed” tomatoes in garlic oil (can be made up to 3 days ahead)
- 2 cups ripe tomatoes (use whatever kind you like the best/have on hand!) – LARGE DICE
- 1/4 cup white onion – diced
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 tsp garlic – minced
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- pinch red pepper flakes
1. Put oil, red pepper flakes, onion, and garlic in pot and place on medium heat. 2. Cook for about 5 minutes or until garlic is fragrant (there should be NO colour on anything). 3. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and continue to cook for another 2 – 3 minutes. Turn off heat and let tomato mixture sit in pot until ready to use if using within a few hours.
NOTE: The tomatoes should still be holding their shape. You want to cook just enough to infuse all the flavours together but not so much that it turns into a tomato sauce.
STEP 5 – Assemble Jerk Chicken Flatbread!!
- 2 large pizza dough (already par cooked for 6 minutes)
- 1 cup mango – medium size chunks (I use frozen mango and just defrost it about 20 minutes before using)
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 1 cup smashed tomatoes in oil
- 1/2 cup feta – crumbled (feel free to use more if you want more!)
- 1/4 red onion – grilled and sliced or diced
- 1/2 red bell pepper – grilled and sliced or diced
- 1/2 orange bell pepper – grilled and sliced or diced
- 6 Jerk chicken thighs – grilled and sliced
- OPTION: Yogurt sauce with cumin, chipotle, lime which you can drizzle over the pizza using a squeezy bottle. I had some leftover from fish tacos so I used it, but the pizza is great without it too
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 2. Place dough on 2 greased trays and ‘par cook’ (meaning partially cook) in oven for about 6 minutes. 3. Remove dough from oven and add all the toppings starting with the smashed tomatoes in garlic oil – except the cilantro (and sauce, if drizzling on). 4. Place flatbread with toppings back in oven and cook until crust is golden brown. Around another 6 – 8 minutes. 5. Remove flatbreads from oven and top with cilantro. 6. Cut into as many pieces as you want and serve!