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RBR Tailgating: Chicken Taco Flatbread

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It’s a mildly spicy Tex-Mex-ish dish and that appeals to me this week because even though nobody liked the word play when I used it a few years ago, I can’t stop giggling at “Olé Miss.”

8:00 pm?

That time slot is the rightful property of the Pac-12. I get that ESPN wants the state of Alabama vs. the state of Mississippi one-two punch and I get that Auburn vs. Mississippi State is likely going to be the better game as the gig looks to be up in Oxford, sending their prospects in a rather different direction than the Black Bears would like. But for us, this is a debilitating piece of scheduling from ESPN.

First of all, to fully enjoy the nuances of the Tide’s play, a beer or two with the early kickoff games is more or less out considering that we’re in it for the long haul. You may wish to cut out, or at least curtail, your intake while watching the SEC on CBS with Gary and Not Verne (I already miss him.)

Little kids aren’t likely to make it to the end. Post game phone calls to fellow non-Pacific Daylight Time Zoned friends are probably out. By the late hour when the game is finally over, college football Twitter will be so maximally in its collective cups as to be unbearable. But worst of all for fans in the stadium, the way we run and the way Ole Miss doesn’t keep people from running could combine for a very lopsided game very early. They will have to make a decision.

Unless I have kids with me, I typically stay to the very end of any game. That said, I understand why some may not. Weather can obviously be a factor. Traffic is probably the most pressing issue and the later the prospect of getting home, the larger the concern looms. Add into the mix a growing certainty of the outcome as the clock runs lower and lower and the scale can easily tip and a premature evacuation of the stadium begins.

Alabama fans have to weigh all of those factors in favor of leaving early against the wonderful joy derived from watching your team utterly destroy an opponent. But more important, they need to decide if they want to be on the scowled at end of a lecture, one whose groundwork has already been laid in a press conference this week, by our Dark Lord.

Saban has harped on this subject more than once before. You’ll be familiar with it by now. To paraphrase, it begins “I don’t understand it.” followed by some variation of “These guys work so hard to put a good product on the field. It doesn’t seem like so much to ask that the fans pay them back by cheering them the whole game through.”

This week, he added a new wrinkle, or at least not one that I’ve noticed before.

"The place is half empty by the time we get to the fourth quarter. Why should we ask the players to play sixty minutes?"

This is a very good argument if you are talking about fans leaving a close game on a pleasant fall afternoon. Not so much when the choice is between hitting the road before the final whistle of a blowout and watching the speedometer hover around twenty in bumper to bumper traffic until the wee hours of the morning.

If you plan on doing as coach asks and stay no matter what’s trending on the field, you should fortify yourself in case of a longer than hoped for trip home by eating well.

The following recipe is based on last Saturday’s daily special at one of our neighborhood haunts. Everything can be prepared the night before and the on-site assembly takes no more than a few minutes.

Chicken Taco Flatbread

- 1 lb. pizza dough

- 1 lb. refried beans (you won’t use anywhere near this much, but as far as I can tell, it’s only sold in 16 oz. cans and the excess is nice to have around for dipping)

- ¼ cup taco sauce, plus more for drizzling

- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

- ½ cup chicken, precook and shredded

- ½ cup yellow onion, diced

- 1 cup tomato, deseeded and diced

- 1 jalapeno, deseeded depending on heat preference and diced

- 1 handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

- juice of 1 lime

- 2 cups Romaine lettuce, chopped

- all purpose flour

- salt

This will be great on the grill. The sharper among you may notice from the pictures that I cooked it in my kitchen. Guilty. I didn’t want to clean my grill and I really didn’t want to not clean my grill, take pictures, and have you lot write in the comments “He needs to clean his grill.”

I’ll give times and temps for ovens, but if you decide to grill a pizza you want to hold it around the 350˚ to 400˚ range. Grills vary so much in temperatures and air flow that rather than give you a cooking time, I’d recommend covering and checking every few minutes.

If you want to make your own dough, here’s a link to a previous tailgate post with my wife’s recipe. You’ll need to start a day ahead to let it proof and rest.

Grocery stores with a bakery usually have a pretty decent pizza dough made in house. Publix has a pretty good one, but they aren’t alone in that.

If you want to use a pre-formed, pre-cooked dough like Biboli, go ahead. You’ll need to skip a step, but I’ll point that out when we get there.

To start, make pico de gallo. Add the onion, tomato, jalapeno, cilantro, and lime juice to a bowl and toss until mixed. Salt to taste and refrigerate until needed.

In a separate bowl, mix the refried beans with ¼ cup of taco sauce, salt to taste, and refrigerate until needed.

When ready, get the grill going and when at the desired temp. Right before adding the dough brush the cooking surface with a little olive oil. Alternately pre-heat an oven to 500˚. If using a pizza stone, let it sit in the oven at 500˚ for twenty minutes to absorb necessary heat. If you are cooking at home without a pizza stone, go ahead and use a baking sheet.

Dust a work surface and a rolling pin with a little flour and roll out a twelve inch or so pie. Stretch into whatever form you need to fit a baking sheet if using.

Par cook for four minutes in the oven or until the dough holds its shape but not so long that it’s crispy. Floppy is okay.

Make sure to have a long fork to pop any air bubbles that might arise.

Uncover and check every so often if you’re grilling, but it shouldn’t take more than five minutes. Skip this step entirely if you have a Baboli style crust.

Remove the flatbread from the heat and generously spread refried beans over it. Cover with cheddar and add chicken. Put it back on the heat until the crust is begins to crisp - about eight minutes in the oven, again keep checking on the grill.

When ready, set it on a cutting board, top with pico de gallo, lettuce, and if you like, drizzle with more taco sauce.

Cut it up into whatever you like, bite sized to large swaths. I suppose you can fold it half like a giant taco and eat it, but it’s harder to share that way.

Enjoy, no injuries, consider staying till the end, and Roll Tide.