Mexican Chorizo Pizza with Gran Queso Cheese

Mexican Chorizo Pizza with Gran Queso Cheese

When you think of Mexican food, you probably don’t think of pizza crust, right? A pizza crust rarely becomes a vessel for the exotic flavors of Mexican food. When it is attempted, we are often left with a simple pizza topped with hot peppers, diced tomatoes, bland queso cheese and overseasoned hamburger meat. None of which really captures the true spirit of Mexican cuisine. One of my favorite Mexican meats is chorizo, a flavorful meat similar to Italian sausage. The unforgettable flavor of chorizo makes for a perfect pizza topping.

There are two different types of chorizo and it is important to know the difference between the two. First, we have Spanish chorizo which is a fermented, cured and smoked sausage generally meant to be consumed without cooking. Then there is Mexican chorizo, which we will use in this recipe. Mexican chorizo is made from fatty, ground pork and based on the uncured Spanish chorizo seasoning ingredients. The flavors of chorizo vary but they are generally a combination of pork butt, aleppo peppers, chili powder, garlic, oregano, paprika, cumin, coriander and cloves.

Mexican cuisine is distinguishable from other types of cuisine because of the peppers used during the cooking process. For that reason, I wanted to make a sauce that compliments the chorizo while still having a hint of spicy peppers. Using a combination of sweet red bell peppers, roma tomatoes and jalapenos for a little kick, I feel as though this sauce stays true to the nature of the cuisine.

Since many of us feel as if a pizza isn’t complete without cheese, I have opted to use gran queso for this pizza. Gran queso is an aged cheese and should be used similarly to Parmigiano Reggiano. It is important to avoid heat with this cheese as heat will destroy the flavor of the cheese. The flavor of gran queso is quite strong compared to an unaged queso. However, this strong flavor is desirable in this case, as the strong flavor of the cheese is needed to stand up to the robust flavor of the chorizo. A little goes a long way though and the idea is to not overpower the flavor of the chorizo, but to compliment it with the gran queso.

Ingredients

  • One New York Style Pizza dough, recipe and instructions
  • 175 grams (two) of roma tomatoes, roughly diced
  • 125 grams (half) of red bell pepper, roughly diced
  • 1/2 Jalapeno pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 225 grams (1/2 pound) Mexican chorizo sausage
  • 45 grams (1.5 ounces) gran queso, shredded or shaved

Tools Used

Directions

  1. Make and proof dough as per instructions (2-3 hours).
  2. Pre-heat oven and baking stone to 550°F (288°C) for 45 minutes.
  3. While oven is preheating; cut tomatoes, red bell pepper and jalapeno pepper. With immersion blender or food processor blend until a smooth puree.
  4. Pre-heat a medium stainless steel skillet on high heat and add sauce, pouring away from you. (Caution: pouring liquid into a hot skillet can spatter. Keep face away from skillet.) Cook for 3-4 minutes on high heat. This quickly reduces the sauce while preserving the fresh “uncooked” flavor. Once reduced to half of the original amount, typically takes about 3 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool.
  5. Cut Mexican chorizo into slices and pre-heat cast iron skillet on medium-high until hot.
  6. Add chorizo to hot skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes. Flip each piece after two minutes of cooking. Once cooked gather chorizo to one side of the skillet and let sit.
  7. After oven has pre-heated, form dough (instructions) on lightly floured wooden pizza peel to 12-13″ circle.
  8. Add sauce evenly to formed pizza dough by adding the sauce to the center and with a large spoon or ladle in a spiral motion spread outward.
  9. Add cooked Mexican chorizo sausage over the sauce.
  10. Optional: If you are not concerned about your fat intake, drizzle about one tablespoon of the very flavorful rendered fat from the chorizo evenly over the pizza in a thin stream.
  11. With a quick jiggle of the wooden pizza peel before to ensure the dough isn’t sticking, slide the pizza onto the pre-heated baking stone using the pizza peel.
  12. Bake on baking stone for approximately 5 minutes until crust and bottom are golden brown.
  13. While pizza is baking, shred gran queso cheese with your box grater or microplane.
  14. Use pizza peel to remove pizza from oven once crust is a golden brown color.
  15. Evenly spread gran queso cheese over hot pizza.
  16. Cut and Enjoy!

Photos

chorizo-pizza-making-pepper-tomato-sauce-1
chorizo-pizza-making-pepper-tomato-sauce-2
Notice the hot splatter pattern of the sauce on the pan. It is actually hovering over the hot pan until the pan cools enough for the sauce to sit on the pan. If you are not using an All-Clad pan, stir the sauce to keep it from burning.

chorizo-pizza-cooking-chorizo-sausage
The chorizo doesn’t stick to a cast iron skillet as it would to a stainless steel skillet. The cast iron holds enough heat to give a nice caramelizing effect to the meat, adding to the bold flavor.

chorizo-pizza-before-baked-adding-pepper-tomato-sauce
chorizo-pizza-before-baked
chorizo-pizza-after-baked-no-cheese
chorizo-pizza-with-gran-quesoThe gran queso cheese should be added after baking, as the heat will destroy the delicate, yet strong flavors of this aged cheese. The pizza retains enough heat to gently warm the cheese and bring out its full flavor potential.

 

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