When Chili’s recently retrofitted their kitchens with new equipment, including a conveyer oven, the chain introduced a line of flatbread pizzas that were not only a big hit with customers, but this new dish also went on to win the Menu Masters 2014 New Menu Item Award from Nation’s Restaurant News. For my hack of the very popular California Grilled Chicken Flatbread you first must make a couple of 16-inch-long flatbreads from scratch—and don’t worry, it’s not that hard to do. The flatbreads are topped with an easy-to-make roasted garlic aioli, pico de gallo, and grilled chicken. Once these components are made, you assemble the flatbreads and bake them for about 10 minutes. There’s no need to make the tomato-based sauce from scratch since I found that Ragu traditional pasta sauce is a close enough match to what Chili’s uses to top its flatbreads and it’s one of the most widely available and inexpensive sauces in stores.

7 ounces (1⅓ cups) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fast-rising yeast
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ cup warm water (105 to 110 degrees F)

4 large garlic cloves (see Tidbits)
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon milk
½ teaspoon lime juice
Pinch of salt

½ cup diced Roma tomato (1 large tomato)
2 tablespoons diced red onion
1 tablespoon diced jalapeño (½ of a jalapeño)
½ teaspoon lime juice
Pinch of salt

1 skinless chicken breast fillet
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Ground black pepper
6 tablespoons Ragu traditional pasta sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 slices cooked thick-sliced bacon, crumbled or chopped
2 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
8 avocado slices (½ of an avocado)
2 teaspoons chopped cilantro

Cooking method

1-Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a medium bowl. Make a well in the flour and add the oil and water and mix by hand until you can pick up the dough, then knead it with your hands for 5 minutes. If the dough is tacky, add a little more flour. Cover the dough and let it stand in a warm spot for 1 hour.

2-While the dough rises, make the garlic aioli by first roasting some garlic. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and rub 4 large peeled garlic cloves with 1 teaspoon of oil. Arrange the garlic in an oven-safe dish or on a small baking pan and roast them in the oven for 10 minutes, then flip the cloves over and roast for another 10 minutes. They should be starting to turn brown. Cool, then smash the garlic with the flat side of a chef’s knife and finely mince. Combine the minced roasted garlic with the other aioli ingredients, then set it aside until needed.

3-Make the pico de gallo by combining all of the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

4-After the dough has been sitting for 1 hour, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.

5-Roll the dough out to slightly more than 16 inches long by 10 inches high on a well-floured surface. You are going to trim the dough to 16 x 10 inches with straight edges so you want some extra dough to trim off. It will be very thin. I find that a pizza wheel works great to trim the dough. Once you have a 16 x 10-inch rectangle, slice through the middle, creating two 16 x 5-inch portions. Carefully place the dough portions on parchment paper on an 18 x 13-inch sheet pan. Brush with extra virgin olive oil and use a fork to poke several holes in the dough to prevent bubbles from forming. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until the top is just beginning to brown. Use a fork to pop any bubbles that begin to form. Remove the flatbreads from the oven and cool. When cool, seal the flatbreads in plastic wrap if you’re not using them right away. They will last for a couple of days.

6-Preheat your grill to high heat to cook the chicken. Flatten the chicken breast with a kitchen mallet, then rub it with some oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes per side until done. You can also cook the chicken using a grill pan on your stovetop preheated over medium heat. Slice the chicken into bite-size pieces when it’s done.

7-When you are ready to bake your flatbreads, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. With the flatbreads on the 18 x 13-inch sheet pan, spread 3 tablespoons of pasta sauce on each. Combine the shredded cheeses and cover each flatbread with cheese. Divide the chicken and arrange the pieces on the cheese, then sprinkle each one with the crumbled bacon. Bake the flatbreads for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown on top and the flatbread is darkening around the edges.

8-When the flatbreads come out of the oven, sprinkle each one with about 1 teaspoon of Parmesan cheese. Drizzle garlic aioli over the top of each one (a squirt bottle works well for this) and sprinkle some pico de gallo over each flatbread. Arrange 4 avocado slices on each flatbread, then finish each with a sprinkle of chopped cilantro. Use a pizza wheel to slice the flatbreads into four even portions, then sliced diagonally through each of those pieces making eight triangular slices for each flatbread.

You want enough garlic so that you will have 1 tablespoon of minced garlic after it’s roasted. Rather than roasting your own garlic, you can use 1 tablespoon of bottled roasted garlic, which is found in many stores.

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