I always have these grandiose plans of making a weekly pizza night happen in my house, but after about two weeks I get bored of having the same thing over and over again, and so sadly I drop all plans and dreams of this wonderful idea. I still love pizza though, so it’s not like I’m shunning it forever. It’s just that I need some diversity in my meals on a week to week basis; call me crazy. Because my love for pizza runs deep, I think the most obvious and smart thing to do is to think of new and exciting pizza recipes that will still fit the bill but with a fun twist. These Chicken Enchilada Pizzas are gluten-free thanks to corn tortillas, and then topped with beans, chicken cooked in homemade enchilada sauce, and sprinkled with an array of Tex-Mex taco toppings that we all know and love. It’s new and exciting enough to give pizza a second life at your house from week to week. If you’re a big fan of enchiladas, then I highly recommend these pizzas because it’s two of our favorites dishes rolled into one. They’re fully customizable so keep that in mind the next time you’re in need of a quick and easy dinner idea.
First thing we have to do is make the homemade enchilada sauce. Don’t let it scare you off. It’s actually super easy to make. Believe me, I always thought it would be a lot of work, but it’s actually really simple. The first thing you want to do soften the dried guajillo peppers by boiling them in hot water for 30 minutes.
**Tip: You can find guajillo peppers in most super markets now in either the produce section or the hispanic aisle. They’re a type of Mexican dried chili pepper that are mild to medium in heat.**
While the peppers cooks, let’s multi-task because cooking is all about multi-tasking if we want to get things done fast. We’re going to cook some chicken thighs in a bit of oil. Season both sides of boneless skinless chicken thighs with salt, pepper and chipotle powder (or paprika for a no heat seasoning). Brown in a very hot cast iron skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil, cooking for about 5 to 8 minutes on the first side, flipping over and continuing to cook for another 3 to 5 minutes on the second side.
Transfer the chicken to a plate or platter and then stir in the onions, tomatoes, and garlic into the same skillet. Cook, stirring often, until the veggies have begun to soften. Add in the cumin, salt, pepper, oregano, cumin and paprika. Cook for about 1 minute to develop the flavor.
Remove the veggies from the heat and transfer to a blender. Then once the chilies have soften, drain (reserving the liquid) and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, remove the stems and seeds, and throw into the blender as well with enough of the reserved liquid to create a pourable, but still thick, sauce.
**Tip: You can remove the seeds and stems before boiling the chilies, but I find that this is easier to do when they’ve softened. It’s up to you though!**
Heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in the same skillet as earlier (wiped clean). Once hot, carefully pour in the enchilada sauce, and cook stirring constantly for about 1 minute. Reduce heat to a simmer and add in the shredded chicken. Cook for about 4 to 5 minutes until the sauce has reduced slightly and thickened.
To assemble the pizzas, spread a thin layer of refried beans onto each corn tortilla. Then top with a bit of the shredded chicken cooked in that enchilada sauce.
**Tip: You can also make these with small flour tortillas if you wish! The texture wouldn’t be so crunchy, but rather crispy and flaky, which isn’t a bad thing.**
Sprinkle the top with shredded Monterey Jack cheese. It wouldn’t be a pizza without cheese. I find that Monterey Jack cheese is such a good melting cheese, but pepper jack would be great as well.
Cook the pizzas (in batches) on a very hot pizza stone that has been preheated in a 450 degree F oven until the edges are crispy and the cheese is bubbly and melted.
**Note: You really want the oven to be super hot, so turn it on as high as yours will go, and really let it preheat for a while to ensure that the stone is hot. This will ensure for crispy tortillas.**
Carefully remove the finished pizzas from the oven and place on a baking sheet or wooden cutting board. Then top with sliced avocado, sliced radish, tomatoes, cotija cheese, sour cream and cilantro. Cut into wedges and serve.
In order to ensure a crispy crunchy “crust” with the tortillas, I cook the pizzas on a pizza stone. If you have one already, you know that they’re wonders when making pizza at home. If you don’t own one, you can place a baking sheet upside down in the oven (with a piece of foil on top) and preheat it as you would a pizza stone. Just note that you won’t get as crunchy a texture as you would if you were to use the stone but it’ll get the job done!
If you want to keep these pizzas vegetarian, just omit the chicken steps and do everything else the way the recipe states. You would just spoon the enchilada sauce over the bean layer. You can even try adding chopped up grilled veggies if you’d like! Give these pizzas a try on your next family pizza night. Everyone will thank you for it.
- 3 cups water (or chicken stock)
- 2 ounces dried guajillo chiles
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ½ cup diced yellow onion
- 2 small tomatoes, diced
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon paprika or chipotle powder
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 16 corn tortillas
- 1 (16-ounce) can refried beans
- 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 2 ripe avocados, halved, seeded and sliced
- 2 small tomatoes, diced
- 3 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 cup crumbled cotija cheese (or queso fresco)
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ cup fresh cilantro
- To make the sauce, in a medium saucepan combine the water and chilies and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until soft and tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat, drain (reserving the liquid) and let cool to room temperature. Once cool enough to handle remove the stems and seeds and place in the blender.
- Place a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon oil. Season both sides of the chicken thighs liberally with salt and pepper. Once the skillet is hot, place the chicken in a single layer. Cook until the first side is browned, about 5 to 8 minutes, flip over and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes on the second side. Transfer the chicken to a plate or platter and set aside to cool. Once cool, shred the chicken with your fingers or two forks.
- Going back to the sauce, in the same skillet you cooked the chicken in, cook the onion, tomatoes and garlic over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper, oregano, paprika and cumin and cook for about 1 minute. Then transfer the veggie mixture to a blender along with the chilies and about ½ cup of the cooking liquid. Blender until completely smooth, adding as much of the remaining cooking liquid as needed to create a smooth pourable sauce that is still somewhat thick. Pour the mixture into a large bowl or measuring cup through a fine mesh sieve, discarding all of the pulp.
- Heat that same skillet once again over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon oil. Once hot, carefully add in the enchilada sauce, being careful to to get hurt from the splatters. Stir and cook for about 1 minute, then lower to a simmer and stir in the shredded chicken. Cook for about 4 to 5 minutes on low until slightly reduced and thickened.
- Preheat a pizza stone in a 450 degree F oven (or as high as your oven will go).
- To assemble the pizzas, spread the corn tortillas with a thin layer of refried beans. Top with the chicken enchilada sauce mixture and sprinkle with Monterey Jack cheese. Cook the pizzas in batches by carefully transferring the topped corn tortillas onto the hot pizza stone. Cook until the edges are crunchy and golden brown, and the cheese is bubbly and melted, about 5 to 8 minutes. Carefully transfer the cooked pizzas onto a baking sheet or wooden board. Continue cooking the rest in the same manner.
- Top the pizzas with avocado, tomatoes, radishes, cotija cheese, sour cream, and cilantro. Cut into wedges and serve immediately. Enjoy!