Feelin’ hot, hot, hot
By Karen BarrFeatures Business and Operations In the Kitchen Ingredients Recipes Trends
Creative pizza chefs are feeding the need for heat with creative hot sauces
Hot sauce is a popular taste trend melding together ethnic flavours and various levels of heat.
The condiment also matches consumer demand for a product that is both healthy and vegan.
How can pizzeria owners incorporate more hot sauce into pizza menus?
Make your own sauces
The Grand Pizzeria and Bar in the Byward Market area of Ottawa is a company born in Naples and raised in Canada. Built on the original Grand Hotel site that opened in 1882, the business was reborn in 2009 with modernized décor and old-world recipes.
“When we first opened, we had a couple of pizza cooks from India. They generously offered to develop a recipe for a hot sauce to serve with our pizza,” explains David Mangano, Grand Pizzeria and Bar co-owner.
The natural next step was to bottle and sell the product. It’s labelled as The Grand Famous Hot Sauce. “Today, we sell close to 100 jars a week,” Mangano says. “The ingredient list contains canola oil, roasted red peppers, sunflower oil, raw red hot chili, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, raw garlic, and salt.”
The hot sauce is served on the side of the wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas. There are numerous signature pizzas with vegan cheese and gluten-sensitive pizza crusts available upon request. The Sofia includes mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms and goat cheese, topped with arugula and parmesan. The Tuscan Chicken is made with mozzarella, chicken, red onions, oregano and red peppers. The Meat Lovers is fully loaded with mozzarella, hot salami, prosciutto cotto, Italian pepperoni and prosciutto.
Some of the many thin-crust wood-fired pizzas at Maurizio’s Pizzeria in Parry Sound, Ont., have a mighty kick. Customers must sign a waiver before indulging.
“Our Inferno pizza uses Carolina reapers in a hot sauce we make. Carolina reapers ground down into dust and mixed into a tomato sauce,” says Chef Maurizio Mascioli, owner. “It’s straightforward and effective. Essentially, each pizza receives the punch of eight Carolina reapers. Almost 10 million Scoville of heat.”
You don’t have to make your hot sauce from scratch. Plenty of companies offer ready-made hot sauces to save time in the kitchen.
“I love pizza and never eat it without hot sauce,” says Nancy Shaw, co-owner of Heartbeat Hot Sauce Co. in Thunder Bay, Ont. “There are many fun ways to incorporate hot sauces into a pizza menu – a spicy take on classic pies, like a spicy Hawaiian or spicy meat lover. Well-loved ingredients like mushrooms marinated in hot sauce can add heat to any recipe. Pies inspired by the hot sauce itself are an option. Think spicy Heartbeat Dill Pickle Pizza,” Shaw says, referring to Dill Pickle Serrano that incorporates vinegar, onion, jalapeno, cucumber, serrano peppers, sea salt, garlic, dill, canola oil, spices and mustard seed.
“I like to use hot sauce as a base for my roasted veggie pizza,” says Jessee Long, owner of The Hot Sauce Co. in London, Ont. “I top it with mozzarella cheese, roasted zucchini, bell peppers and red onion.”
Long also likes to layer flavours. “Spread a thin layer of my Habanero and Mango Hot Sauce on top of your traditional tomato sauce, then add mozzarella cheese, grilled chicken, and red onions. After baking, add a sprinkle of fresh cilantro for a tropical vibe.”
“Hot sauce is a must with our Breakfast Pizza,” says Josh Paone, co-owner of The Lock Wood Fired Pizza in Port Colborne, Ont. The family business is run by Josh and his brother Jeremy, with dad Tony involved in the daily operations.
“The Breakfast Pizza combines eggs, mozzarella, bacon, sausage, onions and green peppers,” Josh adds. “We serve hot sauce, made by a local company, The Spicy Side of Chez Nous Farms, on the side with the pizza for dipping. ”
Chef Maurizio combines two of his favourite pre-made products. “Our Sloppy Eddie pizza incorporates Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce mixed with Bull’s Eye BBQ Sauce,” he says. Additional pizza ingredients include pizza sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes, Italian bacon, spicy Calabrese Soppressata, Genoa salami, pepperoni, chilli and honey drizzle.”
At Fiazza Fresh Fired, with four locations in Ottawa, new owner Alex Munro and Kory McCoy, director of operations and head pizzaiolo, are crafting a menu update. This incorporates Munro’s passion for hot sauce. “I just love it,” he says. “I have a section in my refrigerator dedicated to hot sauces. I eat it with breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”
The first new pizza is the Dolce Puntura. “Sweet Sting is the literal translation,” Munro explains. The Neapolitan-style pizza starts with a crust made from 00 flour. It’s layered with pizza sauce, grated mozzarella, and lots of pepperoni that curls when baked. Once the pizza is topped with florettes of ricotta cheese, it’s time for the hot drizzle. This is a combination of ItalFoods Spicy Bomba Calabrese mixed with lavender honey from a local aviary.
“Italfoods Bomba, or what we like to call ‘the bomb,’ is for those that like things ‘picante’ or spicy,” says Dom Scanga, co-owner from Italfoods, a fine foods distributor in Carp, Ont. ItalFoods Spicy Bomba Calabrese combines peppers, the famed Calabrian chilies, artichokes, eggplant and shallots with red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Adding the lavender honey to the Bomba Calabrese sweetens the pizza drizzle and takes some of the heat away on the first bite.
One customer is offered a tester slice of the Dolce Puntura pizza. “Wow!” he exclaims. “I don’t usually have a tolerance for heat, but I love the taste of this.”
For the new Sriracha Burrata pizza, an oval Pinsa skin from Pinsa Romana Canada is topped with grated mozzarella and heirloom grape tomatoes, sliced in half. It’s finished with a central ball of burrata, then drizzled with Tabasco Sriracha Sauce and sprinkled with fresh basil leaves.
“Tabasco Original Red Sauce is made with three simple ingredients that give it the signature kick,” says Valerie Nolet, brand manager at I-D Foods Corporation in Laval, Que. “Tabasco Sriracha Sauce is savoury and sweet with Tabasco sauce heat. Fun fact – cheese counteracts the heat in Tabasco sauce, making pizza the perfect food for experimenting with hotter flavours.”
Some pizzerias are making their hot sauces from scratch. Others add one of their beloved pre-made sauces directly onto the crust or layered over traditional tomato sauce. Still, others combine pre-made sauces with additional ingredients to create something new.
Pizza combinations using hot sauces are endless. Why not challenge yourself to create something new for your customers and National Hot Sauce Day on Jan. 22?
Karen Barr writes about arts, culture and cuisine. She is a graduate of George Brown College and a Red Seal pastry chef.
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