The Free The Pizza Summer Tour 2022 has been bringing pizza to the people around the Eastern seaboard. We’re presently in Cape Cod, where a friend we’ll call JD requested one of my signature pizzas: shrimp and garlic.
I’ve known JD for well over a decade. I know some things about him. And I know that he hasn’t asked for some other toppings on that pizza that he would enjoy.
For instance: he loves overtly spicy food that can tear the head off of mere mortals, causing pizza sauce to gush from the open neck hole. With that intel, it felt like time to introduce JD to Pizza De Los Camarones Al Diablo: Pizza Of The Devil Shrimp. (Yes, it’s a Spanish name. It sounds more dangerous than its Italian counterpart, and is also more friendly to the American tongue.)
I stretched the dough and sauced it in a normal, unthreatening fashion. Then, I grabbed the large, economy-size drum of crushed red pepper and laid it on heavy.
Some guests seeing this began to worry. Not JD. Then came the layer of mozzarella and the dusting of Parmigiano Reggiano, followed by some large shrimp that ha been cut into small bite sized pieces. (There’s a lot of water in shrimp, and big shrimp are cumbersome. You get a pizza slice that is wet and unwieldy.)
After the shrimp came a handful of minced garlic, followed by a generous handful of sliced serrano and Fresno chilis. These sliced green and red hot peppers make it look a lot like Christmas. But the worried people watching the show began to look as if the were expecting a stocking full of something not nearly as pleasant as coal.
After baking the pizza about four minutes in a 550-degree oven beneath the broiler on high, it was delivered to the table sliced for business. There was trepidation among the newbies—but not among my wife, JD or me. None of us wasted any time in snapping up a slice of this satanic shrimp execution.
And it was good, if not for the faint of heart. After taking a bite, my wife said, “Oh, THERE it is.” If you’ve ever enjoyed an authentically spicy Indian vindaloo, you know the kind of burn this pizza delivers. It could peel paint. Babies and pets should be given K95 masks and be moved to another room.
And the courageous should smile as they indulge a pizza that harnesses the power of a chemical weapons classification. Was JD happy? Oh, yes. He was immersed in the magic of a capsicum-inspired endorphin rush complemented by shrimp, cheesy, garlicky, umami and crunchy char goodness.
Seeing the three of us survive and enjoy persuaded the others of having the courage to do the same. They seemed to find the correct level of joy.
There’s a reason we make pizza: it makes people happy. Not every pizza makes everyone happy. Witness the fanatical schism of the pineapple pizza. But at the end of the day, there are enough pizzas to go around, and enough styles to make everyone joyful, even the serious pepperhead whonever saw it coming. Pizza is people reveling in the moment with each other even if occasionally there is spectacle involved. So hold my beer and watch this…
WARNING, DANGER PIE AHEAD: Simple instructions you probably don’t want to follow for Pizza De Los Camarones Al Diablo
Evenly distribute an entire thin-sliced serrano pepper and an entire thin-sliced Fresno chili. More if you dare. If either or both of those chilis are unavailable, use jalapeños. Upgrading to habañeros is not recommended and is a foolhardy move. Ghost peppers are a death wish.
Launch the pizza into a 550 degree oven. Switch on the broiler. Bake for three minutes, then rotate 180 degrees. Bake for two more minutes, or until the crust is uniformly brown and there is sufficient char.
Remove pizza to a serving tray, slice and deploy. Keep dairy and sugary beverages at hand just in case.
WARNING: You serve this pizza at your own risk.
To learn more about manufacturing your own pizza madness. check out www.FreeThePizzaBook.com
Blaine Parker is the award-winning author of the new, unusual and amusing how-to pizza book, Free The Pizza. Also known as The Pizza Geek and "Hey, Pizza Man!", Blaine is fanatical about the idea that true, professional-quality pizza can be made at home. His home. Your home. Anyone's home. After 20 years of honing his craft and making pizza in standard consumer ovens across the nation, he's sharing what he's learned with home cooks like you. Are you ready to pizza?
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