What the Cluck? Pie


Shout-out to one of my good food-making BFFs for coming up with the idea of putting crispy chicken skin on top of pizza, and then making me crispy chicken skins as a gift so that I could execute it. Chicken thigh skin with that fat rendered out of it is a strangely touching gift to receive.

OK, so, there are a few basic teaching points to be had in the making of this here pizza pie:

1. Unless you got something to prove or you don’t have a grocery store that offers fresh dough in your geographic vicinity, please don’t bother making your own pizza dough. Ever. It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort, and for what? The stuff from the Publix deli will probably turn out better than yours. If you’ve never done it and just want to try, OK, buy some yeast and give it a go. But don’t go feeling like you’re cheating if you buy some. I promise, you ain’t.

2. Your homemade effort is better spent on making your own pizza sauce. It does not take a lot of time or effort, and the quality difference between that and what you buy at the grocery store is leaps and bounds.

3. Ranch dressing is another item that’s always worth making yourself. It’s just a matter of dumping stuff in a bowl and stirring. You can do it!

4. Ranch + chicken skin + pizza is a really great thing that you need in your life. Trust me.

4. There’s no need to feel bad about eating carbs + cheese + chicken skins + ranch dressing as a meal. Scallions  count as a vegetable. You’re covered. Again, trust me.

5. If you want to have the most popular dish on a potluck table, bring this pizza. It’s a foolproof winner. I speak from experience.


One other note– all of the recipes below for each component of this pie are going to make far more than what you need for a single pizza. Making 2 pizzas is not a terrible idea. But if you ain’t going that route, none of these items are awful things to have in excess. Here’s how to deal:

-Ranch dressing: Store in an airtight container for up to a week. You can also use this for dipping veggies and chicken wings.

-Pizza sauce: Store in a airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or freeze in an airtight container for later use. You can also use this on other pizzas, pasta, toasts, etc.

-Chicken skins: Store in airtight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 days max. You can also use these as delightfully crispy snacks, for crunch on a sandwich, or as soup/salad toppers.


What the Cluck Pie

Ranch Dressing

1 cup whole buttermilk

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1.  Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl; whisk to thoroughly combine.


Ranchy Tomato Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon fennel seed

1 small Vidalia onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 (28-ounce can) fire roasted diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

10 tablespoons ranch dressing


  1. Melt oil and butter in a large, high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add fennel seeds to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add onion and garlic to pan; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until softened and beginning to brown slightly.


  1. Add tomatoes and tomato paste to pan, stirring with a wooden spoon; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; gently simmer tomato mixture 25 to 30 minutes or until thickened to a chunky sauce consistency, stirring occasionally. Stir in the next 6 ingredients (through pepper); cook an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat; cool slightly.


  1. Transfer sauce to a blender; blend until smooth(ish). Stir in ranch dressing.


Crispy Chicken Skins

Skin from 10 chicken thighs

Kosher salt

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.


  1. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Arrange chicken skins in flat single layers on the line baking sheets. Top chicken skins with another sheet of parchment paper; top parchment paper with another rimmed baking sheet to weight paper and skins down. Bake skins at 375° for 40 to 50 minutes or until golden and crisp, rotating pans halfway through baking.


  1. Transfer skins to a paper towel-lined trey to drain.



What the Cluck Pie Assembly

16 ounces refrigerated fresh pizza dough, at room temperature

Ranchy tomato sauce

4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

2 ounces grated manchego cheese

2 scallions, sliced

Crispy chicken skins, broken into pieces

Ranch dressing

Sriracha or hot sauce of choice

Fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces


  1. Place a pizza stone on the middle rack of oven Preheat oven to 500°.


  1. Lightly flour a large sheet of parchment paper. Working on the parchment paper, spread the dough into a 12-inch circle. Starting from the center and working outwards, spread desired amount of tomato sauce over dough, leaving a 1-inch border for crust. Evenly sprinkle cheeses over sauce; evenly sprinkle scallions over cheese.


  1. Slide parchment onto a pizza peel, then onto stone in oven. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until crust is golden and cheese is bubbly. Press chicken skin pieces into warm cheese evenly over surface of the pizza. Drizzle pizza with ranch dressing and Sriracha; top with fresh basil. Use remaining ranch sauce for dipping pizza crusts.



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