Blaze Pizza wants you to eat chicken so hot it makes your nose run

Hot chicken pizza on a wooden cutting board
Image: Blaze Pizza

Any time a restaurant chain adds a new spicy food to the menu, those allegedly “hot” items are always subject to scrutiny. And they should be; a lot of them have let us down. Many people naturally assume that mass-market menu items can’t ever achieve serious levels of spiciness, because they have to appeal to the broadest possible audience. Hopefully, though, the tides are turning, and customers will soon be able to get their hands on some decently fiery options. Case in point: starting today, Blaze Pizza, a fast casual chain specializing in build-your-own pizzas, released a limited-edition Blazin’ Hot Chicken Pizza that’ll make your nose run. Or that’s certainly the idea.

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“It’s really spicy—I haven’t heard from anyone that it’s too mild,” said Blaze’s executive chef, Brad Kent, who spoke with The Takeout about his newest pizza, which took eight rounds of development to get as hot and complex as he wanted it to be. One big issue, Kent pointed out, was finding a way to build a hot chicken pizza that wasn’t just a gimmick with which to capitalize on the current chicken craze.

“Spicy chicken doesn’t eat like a pizza,” says Kent. “I came up with a recipe for a hot chicken meatball with ghost pepper and cayenne pepper... it tasted really good, but figuring out how to get that onto a pizza and have it still taste like a pizza was a challenge. Do you put spicy sauce on it? Do you use ranch dressing as the base? I decided to build a regular pizza—red sauce, mozzarella cheese—then put the meatballs on that.” To keep the meatballs from overpowering the taste of the crust and the sauce, Kent added fresh pickles (like you’d find on a hot chicken sandwich), then layered on spicy slaw flavored with scorpion peppers and topped it all off with a cayenne drizzle. All three peppers working together (ghost, scorpion, cayenne) keep the heat levels working in tandem with the cheese and crust while staying nice and hot. Yes, hot enough to make your nose run: “When I see people eat it,” Kent claims, “a majority of them sweat.”

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Beyond the restaurant chain’s commitment to actual spiciness (finally), this pizza might actually win over people who think they can’t handle heat. “My 10-year-old daughter doesn’t eat spicy stuff, and she had two slices,” says Kent. “It’s balanced, and it might open up people’s minds to eating pizza that’s not ‘normal.’ There are so many different spicy cuisines that we would hope to open people up to.” Translation: if you don’t at least try spicy food once in a while, you’re missing out. And if you’re a picky eater, then maybe pizza can be your tongue-searing Trojan horse.

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

presidentzod
President Zod

Interesting. How is their pizza, generally speaking?