A Couple of Jerks (pizzas, that is)

Summer has a way of flipping mealtime upside-down at our house. My husband, Les, does a lot more of our cooking during the summer because the weather and extra daylight make it easier to use the grill or smoker, and the simple fact that he’s handling a larger part of our meals gives me more time to expand our library of recipes. With him in charge of cooking outside, it also means that I have a wider array of flavorful meats, cooked and ready to use in whatever dishes capture my imagination.

Something about the summer heat also makes me crave spicy foods in particular. It could be that my body is trying to calibrate to the external temperature or perhaps there’s simply a greater tendency toward adventure and new-ness while the sun is blazing. In either case, it’s hot in our neck of the woods and I’m cooking up some spice today in the form of pizza—not one, but two pies with all the flavors and vibrant colors of the Caribbean!

These pizzas put a spotlight on colorful bell peppers once again, wrapping up a short series of recipes that started with these veggie skewers and these stuffed peppers.

If you’ve ever grown a successful garden (meaning you actually harvested vegetables rather than merely feeding the neighborhood deer, as I have), you likely know that peppers love hot, sunny weather. Even if pepper plants seem to lag behind tomatoes and zucchini at the start of summer, they always catch up when the temperatures rise. That said, these brilliant bell peppers—which I picked from the produce department, not my pitiful garden—have earned a spot on my pizzas, just by being heat lovers themselves.

Onions are a no-brainer for pizza, and for these Caribbean-inspired versions, I’ve put a little caramelization on sliced red onions to heighten their sweetness and balance the jerk-fired flavors of the sauce and other toppings.

And of course, I couldn’t label these pizzas “Jamaican jerk” without the signature notes of allspice, hot peppers, ginger, thyme and scallion. I’ve incorporated all of the above, either in whole ingredient form or in sauce and seasoning, but gave each pie its own personality. The first is decidedly spicy and savory, featuring smoked pork shoulder, jerk rub, sweet and hot peppers and two kinds of onions. The other leans to the sweet-fruity-spicy side, with plump, juicy shrimp cooked in garlic butter, lime and cilantro—plus sweet and hot peppers, onions and a generous smattering of tropical grilled pineapple.



Put on some steel drum music, pour yourself a Red Stripe and join me for a taste of the Caribbean, Comfort du Jour style!


Ingredients – Jerk Pork Pizza

1 ball of my NY Pizza Dough, or dough of your choice*

About 10 oz. smoked pulled pork (cook it yourself or get some good take-out)

Extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp. Jamaican jerk wet rub seasoning*

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped in chunks

1/2 red onion, sliced into crescent moon shape

1/2 jalapeño, diced

3 scallions, cleaned and sliced

1/2 brick pepper jack cheese, shredded*

Hot BBQ sauce for brushing pizza dough*


Ingredients – Jerk Shrimp Pizza

1 ball of my NY Pizza Dough, or dough of your choice*

8 oz. fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. salted butter

Squeeze of fresh lime

Sprinkle of fresh or dried cilantro leaves* (optional)

1 red bell pepper, cut into lengthwise slices

1/2 yellow bell pepper, cut into lengthwise slices

1 small red onion, sliced into rings

1 large jalapeno pepper (seeded), some diced and the rest sliced into rings

3/4 cup grilled pineapple chunks*

1/2 brick pepper jack cheese, freshly shredded*

Hot BBQ sauce for brushing pizza dough*


*Notes

Dough of your choice – I recommend fresh dough rather than one of the pre-baked crusts. Some pizza restaurants will even sell you some of their pizza dough, so it’s worth asking!

Jerk seasoning – My go-to jerk seasoning is technically a wet rub that seasons the meat but also moistens it. If you have a dry or powdered seasoning, use less of it and mix it with a bit of canola or coconut oil before applying it to the meat.

Pepper jack cheese – For these pies, I used an 8 oz. brick of pepper jack, divided between the two pizzas, and I shredded it myself (not the bagged stuff). If you’re already having hot flashes over the other ingredients, you could cut out the pepper and use Monterey jack instead. You could also omit the cheese entirely, but I like the way it holds together the other toppings.

Cilantro – If you’re among the roughly 20% of people born with the “I can’t stand cilantro” gene, simply leave it out or substitute thyme or parsley. Here’s why you hate it, by the way.

Grilled pineapple – I grilled a whole cut-up pineapple because I had plans for multiple dishes. If you’re only making this pizza, I’d recommend getting a small container of pre-sliced fruit from the prepped-for-you section of the supermarket. 2 or 3 slices is all you’ll need. Used canned as a last resort.

BBQ hot sauce – Choose what you like, but consider the ingredients to complement the other stuff on the pizza. For example, there’s probably a better recipe than this one for a hickory-maple-chipotle-mustard BBQ sauce.

We found this one, which contains vinegar, onion, brown sugar and habanero (all of which are also in jerk seasoning), plus tomato paste, whiskey and ghost pepper. It echoed the topping flavors and was a perfect base for both pizzas, and another layer of wicked-good heat, which always makes Les happy.


Instructions – Jerk Pork Pizza

Preheat oven and steel to 550° F (see notes below for stone or pan baking)

Pull the pork apart into bite-size strips, and sauté them in a hot skillet with some olive oil, until edges are crispy. Then, toss them in jerk seasoning to coat thoroughly. Transfer the pork to a bowl.

Heat olive oil in the same skillet, and sauté onions and bell peppers until soft and lightly caramelized. Season with salt and pepper.

Shape pizza dough into 14-inch circle and place it on a greased pizza pan or flour and cornmeal-dusted peel, then brush on a very thin coating of BBQ hot sauce and season with more black pepper.

Sprinkle half of the pepper jack cheese over the dough, then top with pork, jalapeno, onions and peppers. Scatter the remaining cheese and sprinkle with all the scallions. Slide the pizza onto a hot steel or stone, about 8” from the top of the oven. Bake at 550° F for about 7 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and crust is nicely browned. If using a pizza stone, follow temperature instructions from the manufacturer. Some pizza stones may crack at this temperature.

If using a pizza pan, place the oven in the middle to lower third and allow more time.


Instructions – Jerk Shrimp Pizza

Preheat oven and steel to 550° F (see notes below for stone or pan baking)

Sauté the prepared shrimp in butter with the fresh garlic and cilantro, but only for about a minute, as the shrimp will cook further in the oven. Remove from heat, cut each shrimp in half if they are larger than a quarter, and squeeze a section of lime over them. Transfer to a bowl.

In the same pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté the bell peppers and onions until soft and lightly caramelized.

Shape pizza dough into 14’ circle and transfer to greased pizza pan or flour and cornmeal-dusted peel. Brush a light coating of BBQ hot sauce onto the dough, then sprinkle on half the cheese, followed by the onions and peppers, jalapeno, shrimp and pineapple bits. Scatter the remaining cheese over all toppings and slide the pizza onto a preheated steel, about 8” from the top of the oven.

Bake at 550° F for about 7 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and crust is nicely browned. If using a pizza stone, follow temperature instructions from the manufacturer. Some pizza stones may crack at this temperature.

If using a pizza pan, place the oven in the middle to lower third and allow more time.


Want to print this recipe?


Even as leftovers, this jerk pork pizza rocked my world!

2 thoughts on “A Couple of Jerks (pizzas, that is)

  1. Pingback: The Cool Jerk | Comfort du Jour

  2. Pingback: Grilled Pineapple-Jalapeno Ice Cream | Comfort du Jour

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