It took me a while to get excited about homemade pizza. Even most frozen varieties seemed to taste better than my experiences with the homemade stuff. See my story about being traumatized by homemade pizza as a 9 year old. It would scare you off too. I’ve gotten over my fear at least enough to make it myself, but I still don’t make pizza from scratch as often as I would like.
I was humbled to be named the WINNER of the April “You Want Pies with That?” round-up for my springy Pineapple Strawberry Pie (THANKS ALL!) and had the honor of picking May’s theme. I picked…you guessed it…PIZZA PIES!
I picked it because I knew everyone could get really creative with it. If there was ever a blank canvas in the world of food, it would be an empty pizza crust ready to be piled with toppings. There are no limits.
That said, I was all excited to go crazy with pizza. It’s fun to take the flavors of other meals and pile them on top of a homemade crust. Tacos, chicken wings, cheeseburgers and BBQ are all items that translate well into the world of pizza. Those are all well and good but I wanted to create a pizza like nothing I had ever seen before.
Off I went on my merry way. To CREATE!
One of my husband’s favorite summer meals is a shrimp and sausage boil. It’s a pretty simple concept with four distinct pieces to the puzzle – shrimp, smoked sausage, red potatoes and corn on the cob. It’s all boiled up in a broth seasoned with Old Bay seasoning and lemon. It’s quick to put together and all the different textures and flavors make for a really satisfying meal.
So…I got thinking. Is it possible to put all the goodness of a shrimp and sausage boil on a pizza? Would that work? Is it crazy? Have I gone off the deep end here?
I’m brave. I like to try new things. I could do this. And if it flopped, well, so be it. I’m no stranger to that either. Bring it!
Here’s what imagined:
Homemade pizza crust, topped with a garlicky Parmesan/Old Bay “cream” sauce. I say “cream” because I actually made a béchamel with low-fat milk – per usual. On top of that, chunks of shrimp, marinated in beer and sprinkled with a bit more Old Bay, lemon-pepper corn kernels, sliced turkey kielbasa (any smoked sausage would do) and paper thin slices of red potato. To finish it off, just a dusting of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of fresh parsley for a bit of brightness.
Now, did I succeed with this ambitious project?
The correct answer is…YES!
This was an awful lot of work as everything from the crust to the sauce to the toppings was made from scratch but in the end it was worth it. So many different flavors going on here that combined very well on a golden brown crust.
Let’s talk about a couple of the individual elements, shall we? Namely, the crust and potatoes
First the crust. Now, I really like this thin and crispy recipe from Cooking Light. I actually haven’t made any others since I found this one. I decided to go ahead and try the Baking Illustrated recipe this time (as seen at Brown Eyed Baker and Annie’s Eats ). It’s very good. I liked the flavor and it got nice a crispy on the bottom which I like. However. I did find that it to be almost too much crust. It puffed up so much, it was like eating a chunk of white bread (not to say that’s bad…that’s just not how I like my pizza) It could have been operator error, I admit that. After the initial rise, I didn’t get down to the business of rolling and baking right away because I wasn’t ready. So it sat there on the counter for what was, essentially, a second rise. That could have affected the outcome of my final product for sure. Even so, the ease and the texture of the thin and crispy recipe will still probably keep that one at the top of the list. At least for now.
And the potatoes. This was the part that worried me most. I knew if I left the potatoes in chunks, they would have to be par boiled before going on the pizza. Then I was worried that they would just turn to mush and I didn’t want that. So I decided to go with super thin slices. I don’t have a mandolin, and frankly those things give nightmares about lost fingers and bleeding out alone on the kitchen floor, so I used the thin slicer blade for my food processor to slice up the potatoes. I hadn’t used that particular blade yet, but let me just say I am IN LOVE. In fact, I went a little crazy, feeding potato after potato through the tube and watching them instantly transform into magically thin slices while squealing with delight. Really, you only need 1 to 2 good size reds to have enough for the pizza – it’s only a 12-incher after all. After they’re sliced, I soaked them in water for a good 20-25 minutes or so to remove the starch. Before I was ready to put them on the pizza, I drained off the water and patted them dry with a clean kitchen towel.
I couldn’t decide if I should try to give the potatoes a head start on some color by giving them a quick roast in a hot oven. In the end, I didn’t, but next time I will. Although the potatoes were tender after the pizza was done baking, I think the end result would be more attractive with a bit more golden brown deliciousness over the top since there’s not much cheese. I included that step in my recipe below.
So there you have it! A delicious and creative pizza treat! Enjoy!
SHRIMP AND SAUSAGE BOIL PIZZA (Recipe inspired by this meal)
Please excuse the craptastic photo – it’s the only one I had uploaded to Photobucket before my computer crapped out. It’s all I got, kids. Be gentle, I just lost an old friend. I’m grieving. LOL.
For the Crust:
- 1 lb pizza dough of your liking (Here’s the recipe I used this time. Here’s the one I like the best. Premade works too, whatever your preference.)
For the Shrimp & Sausage:
- 1/2 lb. raw jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (or thawed if you’re like me and use frozen), and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- About 6 ounces beer
- About 4 ounces smoked sausage, very thinly sliced (this is about a quarter of a 1 lb. package, any kind you like will work. My preference is turkey sausage)
In a bowl, combine shrimp, Old Bay and beer and toss to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes.
While the shrimp marinates, heat a skillet over medium heat. Gently brown the sausage slices on both sides. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
In the same skillet, cook the shrimp pieces until just barely done – 1 to 2 minutes TOPS. In fact, if the pieces are a little underdone, that’s okay, they’ll finish cooking in the oven. Transfer to another plate and set aside.
For the Corn:
- 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
- 1 teaspoon butter (I used Smart Balance here)
- The juice of half a large lemon (or less if that’s too lemony for your tastes)
- Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Combine corn and butter and steam in the microwave until defrosted and just tender – about 2 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and pepper. Set aside.
For the Potatoes:
- 1 to 2 good sized red potatoes (eyeball it), sliced ultra thin
- Olive oil
- Salt & freshly cracked black pepper to taste.
Place potato slices in a large bowl of cool water and soak for 20 to 30 minutes. Drain the potatoes and dry the slices thoroughly with a clean kitchen towel.
Put the slices on a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Brush the tops of each one with a little bit of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in a hot oven (450 degrees) until just barely golden brown – 5 to 10 minutes.
Helpful hint: Roast your potatoes while you preheat your pizza stone!
For the Sauce:
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1/4 cup finely minced onion
- 4 large cloves of garlic, finely minced or pressed
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- 3 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning (or to taste)
- Salt & freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
In a saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add onions and garlic and cook until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
Add remaining butter to saucepan and allow it to melt. Add flour and stir until combined and golden brown – about 1 minute. Slowly add milk, stirring constantly. Continue to stir until the milk just bubbles and thickens – about 5 minutes. Add Old Bay and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and add Parmesan cheese, stirring until melted and combined. Set aside.
To assemble and finish:
- Olive oil for brushing the crust
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Prepare pizza stone by preheating in a 450 degree oven for about 30 minutes (or per your stone’s instructions)
Meanwhile, roll out pizza dough into a 12-inch circle on a flour surface (I have a pastry mat I like to use, but parchment paper works fine too.
Brush the crust with olive oil all the way to the edge. Spoon on the sauce and spread out, leaving about an inch of crust uncovered around the edge. Sprinkle the shrimp and corn evenly over the sauce. Next make a layer of potato and sausage slices over the top. Sprinkle with cheese.
Remove pizza stone from oven and sprinkle the surface with cornmeal to keep the dough from sticking, carefully transfer the pie from the floured surface to the stone. Bake at 450 for 10 to 15 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly. Sprinkle with fresh parsley just before serving.
WHEW! Now pop the top on a bottle of beer and ENJOY! You deserve it after all that hard work!