Monday, August 22, 2011

Seasonal Pizza: Corn and Poblano Chiles

Most of the time when I make a pizza, it’s loaded with pretty traditional ingredients (for an American-style pizza, that is): pepperoni, Italian sausage, bell peppers, olives and the like. And of course melty mozzarella cheese and perhaps a sprinkling of another cheese such as Parmesan, Romano, provolone or Colby-Jack. Customized to our dining pleasure. Delicious. Season-less.

Recently, however, I took our weekend pizza on a more seasonal ride, covering it with grilled corn and poblano chiles. I swapped out my usual pizza sauce (also in this post) for prepared salsa to match the spirit and set aside the mozzarella in favor of pepper Jack cheese and smoked cheddar.

Since I used the grill to pre-cook the corn and poblanos and, of course, used a homemade pizza crust, this pizza did involve a lot of individual steps before it was ready to eat. The corn and poblanos can be grilled (or roasted if you don’t want to use a grill) well ahead of time, and the pizza crust should be made the day before for best flavor and texture. You can even have the crust partially-baked and ready to go if you really want to save time on cooking day. I think the corn, cream and scallion mixture could be made ahead and refrigerated, but I haven’t tried this myself.

Poblano chiles are milder than jalapenos, serranos or other small chiles, but I still recommend that you do not underestimate them. They’re far spicier than the green bell peppers that they somewhat resemble, and I need to use rubber gloves to deal with them if I want to avoid burning skin. (This irritation usually shows up long after I’m done cleaning up the kitchen, unless I touch my eye. Ouch!) A bite of a poblano slice on the pizza is pretty zingy, and if you prefer milder dishes, I’d recommend grilling or roasting red or green bell peppers instead. I think the pizza would still be delicious. There are some more details and photos of roasting and peeling peppers in this post.

The short version of the taste story of this pizza is that we loved it. The long version is that we loooooooved it. It was deliciously spicy and smoky and, since I cooked the corn with heavy cream, garlic and scallions after grilling it, rich and creamy as well. The combination of corn, cream, cheese and chiles, with a little tomato on top to brighten both the color and flavor is a complicated 5-way match made in pizza heaven.

Corn and Poblano Chile Pizza
Instead of using the grill, you could roast the peppers in the oven and toast the corn in the butter (step 3) before adding the rest of the ingredients.

4 large ears corn (mine were small so I used more), husks and silk removed
2 poblano chile peppers
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup chopped scallions
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt
¼ cup heavy cream
1 recipe whole wheat pizza crust dough prepared through step 4 (you could use all-white flour crust)
¾ cup prepared salsa
½ cup shredded Monterey Jack or pepper Jack cheese
½ cup shredded smoked cheddar cheese
about 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons finely-chopped cilantro, optional
sour cream to serve, optional

1. Preheat a grill. Add the corn cobs and poblano chiles to the grill and cook until the corn is browned in several places and the skin of the chiles is charred and blistered. Remove the corn from the grill and set aside to cool. Remove the chiles and place them in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand 10 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven with a pizza stone to 450 F. When the corn is cool enough to handle cut the kernels from the cob and set them aside. Remove the chiles from the bowl and peel off their skins. (I recommend using rubber gloves.) Remove the stem and seeds and slice the chiles into strips. Set aside.

3. Melt the butter in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Add the corn kernels, scallions, garlic and salt. Saute about 5-8 minutes or until just beginning to brown, stirring frequently. Add the heavy cream. Cook and stir until the mixture has thickened. Remove from the heat and set aside.

4. Partially bake the pizza crust on the pizza stone at 450 F for 5-8 minutes or until the crust is puffed, no longer appears doughy and has begun to brown a little.

5. Remove the crust from the oven. Spread the salsa evenly over the crust. Combine the Monterey Jack and smoked cheddar. Sprinkle about 2/3 of the cheese mixture over the salsa.

6. Spread the corn mixture over the cheese. Arrange the poblano strips over the corn mixture. Top with remaining cheese mixture. Arrange the cherry tomato halves over the cheese.

7. Return the pizza to the oven and bake about 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the crust is brown. Remove from the oven and top with cilantro if desired. Let the pizza stand about 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Serve each slice with a dollop of sour cream if desired.

Makes 1 10-12 inch pizza, about 4 servings. Leftovers can be wrapped and refrigerated. They’re great reheated in a toaster oven.

Other recipes like this one: Pizza Any Way You Like It, Corn and Green Onion Tart with Bacon

One year ago: Pasta with Yellow Squash, Corn and Bacon

Two years ago: Summer Squash Casserole with Basil and Onion

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