In the Kitchen
The Pizza Chef: Not Everyone Loves Red Sauce
By Diana Coutu
Not Everyone Loves Red Sauce
By Diana Coutu
I’m not a big red sauce fan. Not anymore, that is. I used to be; I used to ask for extra sauce on every pizza.
I’m not a big red sauce fan. Not anymore, that is.
I used to be; I used to ask for extra sauce on every pizza. Then one night after going to the bar with some friends, we ordered our usual pizza with extra sauce from my workplace at the time, and it all changed.
This was years ago, before I owned my own pizzeria. The pizza arrived and it was almost soupy. My manager thought he was being funny by overdoing it. In his defense, he later said that he expected me to call back to complain and then he would send me a new one. I guess one should never assume anything when dealing with slightly drunk, hungry people.
We dove into the pie-soup and devoured it. Within 20 minutes I got wicked heartburn. The kind of heartburn that sends you home doubled over in pain. My girlfriend threw up. Somewhere between extra sauce and the soup mess that we got, the line from delicious to deadly was crossed.
Nowadays I still can’t stomach much of it. Every red-sauced pizza has to be light sauce, or the pangs of the unrelenting burn return as fresh as that fateful night so many years ago. As a result of that experience, I enjoy many different sauce alternatives on my pizzas, even pizzas without any sauce.
And I’m not alone. It’s amazing what happens to seemingly ordinary topping combinations once you change the sauce. Anyone who’s had a BBQ Chicken pizza with BBQ as the base sauce knows what I’m talking about.
I make a breakfast pizza with a fire-roasted jalapeno pepper salsa, Canadian back bacon, sliced hard-boiled eggs and cheddar cheese. The salsa compliments the bacon and eggs with a slightly spicy blend of jalapeno and red peppers. If I want to fire it up, then I’ll make the same breakfast pizza with a chipotle pesto. Both the salsa and the chipotle pesto are high quality ready made products which we order through one of our distributors and we only need to drain the salsa a bit in order to use it.
While we make our red sauce from scratch, these other sauce options have given us the benefit of offering new tastes to our clientele, without the increased from-scratch labour.
Testing the chipolte pesto brought to life our South West Chipolte Combo, with the spicy chipolte pesto, cajun chicken breast, strip bacon, onions, red and green peppers, roma tomatoes and a three-cheese blend. Then one of my staff created the “oh my god I think I’ve gone blind hot sauce,” which was essentially edible lava. The edible part is highly debatable.
Trying out the salsa gave us the inspiration to create our Taco pizza, with seasoned taco beef, tomatoes, black olives and ranch dressing smothered under a three-cheese blend. We serve it with taco chips and lettuce. It’s a messy pizza, but it’s also extremely tasty.
Like our Big D’s Bodacious BLT (a.k.a. Canada’s Best Pizza 2006), this pie doesn’t have any sauce, just cheese, capicolla and strip bacon baked to a golden brown. Then we add ranch dressing, diced roma tomatoes, a little sea salt and pepper and romaine lettuce. You could say the sauce for this pizza is ranch dressing.
Some of you may be saying, “ranch dressing?” But others will nod your heads in agreement, knowing that ranch dressing is really good on pizza. I have a driver, who hails from China, and at first he thought that we were really weird by adding ranch dressing to pizza combinations. Until he tried it, and now he puts ranch on all his pizzas, instead of red sauce. We joke that if he ever gets cut, he’ll bleed ranch dressing.
One of my favourite sauces is a simple olive oil and herb blend. We offer it on our menu and we’ve found that it’s very popular especially among our female clientele. It’s very light and quite flavourful.
Brush the center of the pizza crust with olive oil, and then sprinkle the herbs and spices that you use in your red sauce. We use minced garlic, pepper, oregano, basil and sea salt.
This sauce compliments many topping combinations, like our present taste of the month, ‘The Couch Potato.” This pie has the olive oil and herb sauce, teriyaki fried onions, seasoned beef, strip bacon, and seasoned wedge fries (cooked and sliced into bite size pieces) with a havarti garlic chive cheese blend then drizzled with ranch dressing. It’s lip-smackin’ yummy!
Very different than your average red sauced pizza, but then again, who wants to be average?•