I’m a believer in the fact that about 95% of all pizza produced is at an acceptable-or-better level (rot in hell, Pizzeria Giorgios!). But even the most accepting among us can admit that a vast swath of pizza produced in this fine country is... let’s say utilitarian. And that’s okay. Not every slice or square is going to be the mind-blower. But hey, what if it could be?
As always, we turn our eyes to the authentic, ancestral home of pizza: Scotland. There is a well-documented history of frying pizza over there (both battered and totally nakey), and my deep fryer has had this coming since the very moment I learned about it.
As a Chicagoan, I’m well aware that you don’t judge a place’s cuisine entirely by its most headline-grabbing unhealthy offering. But as a Chicagoan, I also deeply yearned for the experience of a deep-fried slice. What can I say? We contain multitudes.
You’re going to do this too. You pretend that you’re not, that this kind of stunt is beneath you. And sure, get that out of your system now. Once it’s gone, gather the following:
- The turkey fryer you keep around for that one time a year
- A big ol’ jug of vegetable oil to generously fill the fryer
- A very large, wide bowl for battering
- One extremely average, not-at-all-homemade cooked pizza
- A slotted spoon for retrieval
- A pan fixed with a wire rack on top
I sincerely and fully advise you to not use a very good pizza in this. There’s a certain equalizing effect to a bowl of batter and a dangerously hot oil bath. A frozen pizza is A-OK, as long as you’ve already cooked it. I had great results with a pizza chain that I’m not necessarily going to name, but that produces a perfectly average Pizza! Pizza!
The unbattered fried pizza was perfectly fine. A thin batter of mostly seltzer, baking soda, and a little rice flour (pictured) worked just fine, too. But we all know what we’re really here for. Let’s make some batter, chums.
I know that “beer batter” is a very sexy, aspirational kind of phrase. And I traffic in beer when I’m not draping myself in questionable pizza decisions. But seltzer (or club soda) has significantly higher volumes of dissolved CO2, and we want every bit of effervescent crunch we can achieve, so seltzer it is.
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup masa harina
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. Morita chili powder (or paprika)
- 12 oz. plain seltzer
- 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Whisk everything together right before you want to start work. The texture should be thin enough to run but thick enough to coat a spoon. Add more flour or seltzer to hit the right balance. Chill in the fridge while you wait for the oil to come to temperature.
Preheat your oil to 375 degrees. Open your pizza box and prepare to elevate some cuisine.
Dip a slice in the batter and turn to coat thoroughly. Let the excess mostly run off and slowly dip the slice into the fryer, taking a full 10 seconds to release it. The goal is not to just drop it in and possibly let it glue itself to the bottom of the fryer. Give it 45 seconds on one side and 45 seconds on the other. When it’s good and puffy and crispy brown, retrieve with a slotted spoon (tongs might tear through the precious batter) and remove to a wire rack to drain. Maybe drop yourself some chips into the fryer. I know I did.
I have saved the real ass-kicker for last. Mix a 1:1 ratio of brown sauce to malt vinegar in a squeeze bottle. Squirt it generously before each bite of pizza, and dip the fries in it too. It’s just the perfect sweet/tangy counterpoint to ... well, a fried pizza.
I’d recommend a Scottish Ale to pair, because of course. But no shame in a crisp Kolsch, a refreshing Pilsner, or a half-liter of Buckfast. (Ok, maybe shame in the last one.)
Don’t, you know, do this all the time. But do it at least once. Everyone should fry a pizza at least once. It’s good for the soul, and it lets those layabout ventricles know who’s boss.