Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Carmageddon & The Asian Turducken Pizza

A month ago I sent an email asking my friend Tyler if I could accompany him to Restaurant Depot on his next trip. He has a membership (despite the fact he is not in the industry, he's a doctor; I stopped questioning these things years ago with Tyler) and I wanted to get a particular kind of hamburger buns.

Tyler replied that we could go that day if I wanted to, but he also hinted that there would be a pizza party coming soon. A few days later I received the invitation: a Carmageddon Pizza Party. Now, I loathe the term Carmageddon with an intensity that I reserve for very few things in life. But I have to say, used in conjunction with another amazing pizza night, I didn't mind it.

Last time we (Tyler, his brother Zach and I) came up with the idea for two new pizzas: Pastrami Pizza and Carne Asada Pizza. Last Monday, Zach sent me a text that he wanted to do a carnitas pizza but Tyler was already claiming an al pastor pizza. So we put our heads together. The exchange went something like this:

Me: We make a beer-can chicken with an alcohol sauce?

Zach: How about a turducken pizza? We wouldn't have to make one, just use all three meats on one pizza.

Me: Can we do it with an Asian flair? I'm not saying we make orange chicken and dump it on the pizza, just something a little Chinese-spiced.

So the idea was formed and after a few more texts we had a basic plan. Zach picked up half of a smoked duck and some Chinese barbecued chicken from a Chinese restaurant he likes, and I got some turkey meatballs from Trader Joe's, the thinking being that even if we failed miserably, we could still salvage the meatballs for another pie.

Saturday afternoon, I headed over to Tyler's house. It took me twenty minutes to get from Pasadena to Culver City. So much for "Carmageddon." (At one point Tyler asked if anyone had encountered traffic. Out of perhaps 25 people who heard that question, the only people who answered yes were the couple who got caught in a bit of traffic going to the Coliseum for the Real Madrid-Galaxy game.)

Let's just say there was no lacking of drinks on this afternoon/evening.

The fire was started several hours before the guests arrived so that the oven could get very hot. I've always wanted to play with one of these infrared thermometers. It was as fun as I'd imagined.

Zach and Tyler both like Celeste frozen pizza, and they were giving me a bit of a hard time for saying I didn't think much of them on this blog a few weeks ago. Someone - it may have been me, but I don't remember - suggesting cooking one in the pizza oven. Tyler fished one out of his freezer, completely crusted over with ice.

It probably will not surprise you when I say that the ice melted within a couple of seconds in the 800-degree oven. The pizza was cooked on the bottom in less than a minute.

It was crunchy on the bottom but a little cool in the middle. Tyler decided the top wasn't cooked enough so he rambled off to the garage and came running back with the one thing you always want to see in the hands of a guy who has been drinking mojitos all afternoon:

A blow torch.

I have to say, it was probably the best Celeste pizza I have ever had.

With our silliness over for the moment, Zach and I turned our attention to cooking the meatballs. Zach made a Hoisin and chili paste and began simmering them. I suggested adding some beer.

"We have Hite," he said. "That is Asian."

The meatballs actually turned out fantastic. So tender, with a little touch of spice. It was hard not to eat them all.

Zach diced them and put them into a container, ladling a little extra sauce over them.

The chicken and the duck required a lot less effort.

Only a small sampling of the ingredients that were on hand. At the previous party, Tyler had purchased twenty pounds of dough and we used it all up. As Tyler explained: "For Asians, running out of food is a disaster"... so he bought 45 pounds of dough this time around.

When we felt the time was right, we began to assemble our Asian Turducken Pizza. I'm not going to lie: we weren't 100% confident we could pull it off. It did not help that almost everyone whom we told what we were making responded by laughing... or telling us flat-out that it sounded bad. 

Zach made an oyster-and-chili sauce as the base and spread it on the dough.

And placed the chicken, duck and turkey meatballs on top.

I diced up some skin, too, as a little sumpin' extra to top the pie with. 

We took extra-special care monitoring this pizza in the oven. It only took a few minutes and it was done. And how was it?

It was fantastic. Everyone loved it. I never would have imagined that it could turn out as well as it did. Immediately people were requesting that we make another one. The spicy sauce was offset by the cheese and the meats all worked quite well together.

I've written about these pizza parties before, so I won't go into great detail about the rest of the pizzas, but I will share some pics:

A standard, but still a classic: pepperoni and sausage.

Ty told me to call the next pizza so I requested my favorite: roasted garlic and basil. But apparently that was too boring so he threw on some caramelized onions and pancetta as well. Still, it was very good.

There had been a lot of cracked black pepper on the previous pie, and a little girl found it too spicy, so we promised to make her some slices of plain cheese next, which we did.

I have no idea what this pizza is. Regardless, it was delicious, as every single pizza was.

Tyler's al pastor pizza was wonderful, better than I was expecting. But even he admitted the Asian Turducken Pizza was better.

And I will close with this shot, a burrata and arugula pie made by a friend of Tyler's, a fellow doctor. More than anyone on this evening, he monitored the pizzas in the oven. Someone complimented him, accurately, on what a good job he was doing.

"Thanks," he said, "I've been paying more attention to these pizzas than I do in surgery."

"What kind of surgery do you practice?" someone asked him.

"Eye surgery."

I'm kinda wishing I hadn't overheard that. But since I did, I wanted to share it with you.


Anonymous said...

action shot city! pp's bro would be proud

Michelle said...

If I had the choice between French Laundry or one of these parties I would be comin' to Culver City!

Stephen said...


Another great food service resource is the Canton Food Co. in downtown Los Angeles at 750 S Alameda St. It is one of the few that is open to the public and is a fun place to browse around. I have heard that they have the same brand of hamburger buns that In-N-Out buys. My casual visual inspection suggested that there was a high degree of likelihood to the rumor, but I have never tried them to be sure. Regardless of the buns, it is a fun place to check out.

JustinM said...

Thanks for the tip, Stephen. The reason I wanted to go to Restaurant Depot is that the owner of a restaurant whose buns I love as much as any I have ever had told me that he gets them at RD.

Tyler said...

None of those doughs were "purchased". Those are all hand-made with love. And speaking of handmade with love, In-N-Out Buns are made by Puritan Bakery, who sadly does not sell to the public (even if you have a Restaurant Depot membership).

Liz said...

The pizzas look amazing, sorry I missed it. And I probably would have laughed at the turducken pizza too.

Zachary said...

Yes, what Ty neglected to mention is that the next morning when he was getting feedback via txt, the top 2 pizzas were the Asian Turducken and the Carne Asada - which I'm proud to say are both Zach and Justin creations.