Savory, slightly sweet, somewhat spicy and salty, Peruvian-Inspired Pizza with Rocoto brings me back to the rustic restaurants in Peru (and the ever-present wood-fired pizza ovens), and the flavors of their beloved rocoto relleno... This unique grilled or baked pizza may spoil you for that pepperoni pizza you're accustomed to!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - Pizza Inspiration
If you've followed Beyond Mere Sustenance for any length of time, you are aware that my husband and I spent the month of June 2017 in Peru. WE. LOVE. PERU. Prior to our trip to Peru, I had developed a love for Peruvian flavors and dishes, and was quite familiar with dishes like aji de gallina (chicken in creamy aji amarillo sauce), ceviche, and lomo saltado.
I created a couple of recipes for the blog - Peruvian Chicken and Rice (Arroz con Pollo) and Roasted Sweet Potato and Giant Corn Peruvian Salad (Solterito). Upon our return from Peru, I featured a Creamy Tomato Bisque Peruvian-Style and Savory Plantain Pie. I'd be remiss if I neglected to feature a recipe with the ubiquitous (at least in Peru 😍) rocoto pepper.
So on to the creation of this Peruvian-Inspired Pizza with Rocoto... Having enjoyed rocoto rellenos in Peru a couple of times, wanted to come up with a ground meat mixture similar to the filling in the peppers in Peru. We have enjoyed a ground alpaca pizza with rocotos and hard-cooked eggs at the recommendation of our server at a small café in Cuzco. This pizza is a mash up of both the rocoto rellenos and that alpaca pizza.
The "savory" component I recommend is ground bison as I think it gets pretty close to the flavor of the ground alpaca in our favorite rendition of the dish. Your pizza won't suffer if you use beef, elk, lamb, or pork, or even a combination.
The "sweet" comes from the raisins or currants, the "salty" from black olives, and the "spicy" of course comes from the rocotos. Peruvians love hard-cooked eggs, and they make a really interesting finish to this delicious pizza.
🌶 What are Rocoto Peppers?
The amazing rocoto pepper has thick walls like our very familiar bell peppers. In fact, you might mistake it for a red bell pepper... until you taste it! They're quite hot! (Says this girl from New Mexico that loves all things spicy).
Rocoto (aka locoto in Bolivia) has been cultivated for thousands of years in Peru and Bolivia. It is among the oldest of domesticated peppers, having been grown by the Incas 5,000 years ago.
I buy rocoto peppers in a tall jar at a local Latin grocery. I carefully remove the black seeds and ribs as this helps reduce the heat. They can be used as we used roasted red bell peppers, keeping in mind their heat level. We think they're a perfect addition to pizza!
📋 Ingredients You'll Need
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- pizza dough for 14" pizza, (see notes)
- a drizzle of olive oil
- 1 pound ground bison, elk, beef, or lamb (see notes)
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- ¼ cup sherry, or pisco
- ⅓ cup currants or golden raisins
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- sea salt/fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 1-2 rocoto peppers, cut in thin strips (see notes)
- ¼ cup black olives, sliced
- ½ cup queso fresco, cubed (or fresh mozarella)
- ½ cup parmesan, grated
- 2 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled, cut in wedges
- Prepare the pizza crust - Preheat the grill or oven to medium-high (about 400 degrees). Roll out the pizza dough. The crust should be VERY thin. I cook mine on the grill on a pizza stone. You may want to brush the stone or pan with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal, or spray with cooking spray.
- Make the sauce - Brown the bison (add oil if needed). Add the onion and garlic as you break up the meat. When the meat is browned and the onion translucent, de-glaze with sherry or pisco. Add the currants or golden raisins, cumin, salt and pepper. Simmer gently about 5 minutes.
- Assemble the pizza - Drizzle the crust with olive oil. Use a pastry brush to spread. Layer the ground meat mixture, sliced rocoto peppers, olives, queso fresco, and parmesan.
- Grill or bake the pizza - Cook pizza until crust is browning, and cheese is golden. (8-10 minutes usually but depends on heat level).
- Finish the pizza - Add the hard-boiled egg slices or wedges. Enjoy!
How long does it take to make this pizza? The stated time does not include making a pizza crust, because you have several options: 1. Make the pizza crust from scratch either by hand or in a bread machine. I have a bread machine, and either make a batch of pizza dough (makes 2 pizzas). When I make the dough, I get enough for 2 pizzas. If I'm really lucky, I have a ball of dough from the most recent bread machine batch ready to thaw. 2. Start with frozen dough or refrigerator dough. Obviously, if your dough is frozen, you'll need to thaw it. Trader Joe's has a good frozen pizza dough. 3. If I'm in a pinch (and craving this pizza), I will buy a pre-made crust or flatbread!
What type of ground meat is best to use? My preference is bison. Bison is very lean. You may wish to use a drizzle of olive oil as you brown it. I believe it gets closest to the flavor of the ground alpaca we have had in Peru.
If I can't find them, what can I substitute for the rocoto peppers? Rocoto peppers are widely available in jars packed in water at markets with a good selection of Latin foods. I remove the black seeds and membranes and slice them. You may find them frozen, just thaw and treat them the same. Roasted red peppers are a good substitute, but don't have any heat. Add a bit of crushed red pepper to the meat as it browns. You could also use Hatch green chile as a substitute but the flavor is quite different.
We usually grill this pizza, as we're trying to re-create the pizzas we loved in Peru. The small restaurants all had wood-fired ovens (usually the only source of heat), and every restaurant has pizza on the menu. If you aren't comfortable with grilling pizza, I've provided conventional oven instruction as well. I really hope you'll think "outside the
pizza box" and try this unconventional but delicious pizza!