Thursday, February 25, 2010

Recipe: Shrimp Scampi Pizza

Pizza with shrimp on it reminds me of Montreal. My great grandparents were Quebecois and Montreal has always been a nice weekend getaway for me so I've been to the city many, many times. The city is about as European as you can get in North America and going there is kind of like going very far away, but not traveling all that long to get there. That's a unique feeling. It's been a few years since my last visit and I feel one coming on.

One of the features of Montreal is good food. The city has more than its fair share of great restaurants, cafés and other kinds of eateries. One of my first stops when I'm in town is a wood-fired brick oven pizzeria named "Pizzaiolle". It occupies two floors in a narrow and old victorian building on Rue Crescent. It is a tight fit and the tables are close, but that just adds to the coziness and atmosphere.

My favorite pizza at Pizzaiolle is the #12 of the "Tiziana" whose ingredients are listed as "sauce tomate, crevettes, fromage, ail." Sure, it does have that in it and a few things they don't mention. That big 'ol wood fired brick oven sure doesn't hurt either! In any event it is delicious and I have had many. If you're ever in Montreal, be sure to check out Pizzaiolle, they now have several locations and I'm sure none of them will disappoint you!

My shrimp scampi pizza recipe below is inspired by Pizzaiolle, it is not an homage. Pizzaiolle creates the Tiziana with a thin crust and delicate "baby" shrimp. I opt for something a little more substantial because my pizzas usually have to feed up to 10 guests at a pop. Also, I can't help it, I am an American!

Before we move on to constructing the amazingly delicious Shrimp Scampi Pizza below, allow me to address four primary ingredients that all but guarantees you can make pizza at home that is as good or better than the average local shop. Get used to seeing these important "ingredients" because I am going to add them to every pizza recipe I write on Chop Onions, Boil Water. They are critical to your success.

Cornmeal's tiny grains act like little ball bearings between flat surfaces. Spread cornmeal on the surface of what you build your pizza on and you'll be able to slide your masterpiece right off it and into your oven. Speaking of what you stretch your dough on, go get yourself a...

Pizza peel: Buy one, construct your pizza on it, use it to put your pizza in the oven, use it to take your pizza out of the oven. Seems like a small thing right? Try it! By the way, when you're using your peel to slide your pizza into your oven make sure your oven contains a...

Pizza Stone: Nothing is going to make your home pizza match or exceed the quality of the store bought stuff more than a pizza stone. Get a thick one and get a big one. I park mine right on the lowest rack of my oven and that is where it stays. It makes all the difference in the world and in no time you'll be pulling pizzas out of your oven that will make the thought of a store-bought pie a less-than-ideal option. The pizza stone is not going to work optimally though unless you...

Preheat your oven:
Flat out, no joke, crank her up to 500°F and do that a full 45 minutes before you plan to sprinkle that peel with cornmeal, stretch that dough and then slide that pie onto that stone.

Now let's make a pizza with some giant shrimp on it!

Shrimp Scampi Pizza

2 medium tomatoes (diced and set to drain in a colander)
1 pinch of oregano
1/2 lb. of largeish shrimp (shelled and deveined)
2 Tbs olive oil (and a little more for drizzling)
2 Tbs sweet butter
4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1 pinch of red pepper flakes
Enough dough for one 16" to 18" pizza.
1/4 cup parmigiano-reggianno cheese (grated)
A good pizza cheese blend (shredded, should contain mozzarella, cheddar and asiago)
1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup of chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 500°F for 45 minutes to one hour before you plan on cooking the pizza.

Take the drained tomatoes and chop them along with the pinch of oregano. Set aside.

To make the scampi sauce: place a small sauce pan on medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil and the butter until the butter melts. Add the garlic and the red pepper flakes and sauté for a few minutes. DO NOT LET THE GARLIC BROWN OR IT WILL BE BITTER! Remove from heat and allow to cool a little bit.

When the oven has almost finished preheating, toss the shrimp in the scampi sauce, drain and set the shrimp aside. DO NOT DISCARD THE REMAINING SCAMPI SAUCE!

Stretch a dough ball to a 16" to 18" disc and place it on your cornmealed peel. I'm not going to go into dough stretching here because it is a learned thing and there are a variety of methods each with its proponents, each for good reason. Do a little research and practice a bit. Don't plan on a perfectly round pizza all the time!

With a brush, paint a thin layer of the scampi sauce over the stretched dough.

Add the chopped tomatoes and oregano mix to the scampi sauce and mix in well. Then spread the tomato-scampi sauce mixture evenly over the stretched dough.

Sprinkle a little of the basil and parsley evenly over the pizza (reserve most of the basil and parsley for when the pizza comes out of the oven).

Sprinkle the parmigiano-reggiano evenly over the the pizza.

Distribute the shrimp evenly over the pizza.

Distribute the shredded cheese blend over the pizza. When doing this it is important to remember to keep most of the cheese out of the middle of the pizza. As it melts it will tend to gather toward the middle anyway.

Place the pizza in the oven until the bottom is slightly browned and the cheese is bubbly (8 to 12 minutes). Remove, add additional basil and parsley to taste, drizzle with some olive oil, allow to cool for about 5 minutes, slice and and serve.

This is eye-rolling-behind-your-head pizza kiddies! It's like shrimp xanax!


  1. Made this last night for a build your own pizza get together! Amazing! Don't change a thing, Nan Vantrease

    1. RIGHT? Thank you! Yeah, it's a good one! So good! Now, you're making me want it tonight!