I’ve discovered a new perfume and it’s going to make me rich. (I know that, because like cigarettes, the perfume is addictive. Mwah ha ha!) The perfume is the heady, compelling and slightly sweet aroma of chili peppers roasting.
It is chili pepper harvest season in Albuquerque, and the smell of peppers roasting wafts through the entire city. I want to lick the air. Everywhere you look—in front of grocery stores, on sidewalks, in farmer’s markets and in random parking lots— cylindrical metal baskets are being crank-turned over flames until the peppers char.
Albuquerque is a small city with a strong, proud food culture and just enough grit to keep it interesting. It doesn’t have the Disney-land tourist vibe of better known destination cities (although I am afraid if enough of us write about it, it could get there). My next post will tell you more about this great little city.
The photos above were taken at the Saturday morning farmers’ market—the first and only farmers’ market in the country, I’m told, powered completely by solar power. (The live bands, the espresso machine and even the ATM get their juice from the sun). The market also has some very cool food trucks, including the Firenze Mobile Wood Fired Pizza Truck. Don’t be fooled by the Italian name—like almost all the food we sampled in Albuquerque, their pizzas have distinctively New Mexican flair.
Here is the version of the pizza I made when I got home:
Albuquerque Breakfast Pizza
This recipe is an adaptation of the Ranchero Breakfast Pizza made by Firenze Mobile Pizza, courtesy of New Mexican native Felicia Meyers who owns the truck and catering business with her husband. Look for hot or mild chili peppers or Italian frying peppers (again, hot or sweet, depending on your preference). And if you go to Albuquerque, don’t miss the chance to eat theirs straight from the truck.
I used reduced fat shredded cheddar and mozzarella, and I swear you won’t notice (thanks to that luscious egg).
4 fresh green chili or frying peppers (each about 6-inches long)
3-4 ounces (1 link) hot lean Italian turkey sausage
8 ounces pizza dough
3 tablespoons tomato pasta sauce
1/4 cup shredded reduced fat mozzarella
1/4 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar
1 large egg
- Heat the grill or oven to 500 degrees; coat a baking sheet pan with cooking spray.
- Place the peppers directly the grill or in the oven (on a shallow pan), rotating them 1/4-turn as soon as the underside is charred, about every 4 minutes. At the end of the 15-17 minutes, the surface should be blackened and mottled. Immediately place the peppers in a plastic bag; seal and let sit 10-15 minutes. Remove the peppers from the bag and slip the skins off with your fingers. Cut or tear the peppers lengthwise into thin strips, discarding the seeds and core.
- Meanwhile, squeeze the sausage out of its casing and cook over medium heat in a nonstick skillet, stirring to break the meat up into small crumbled. Cook until no longer pink, about 3-5 minutes.
- Stretch and/or roll the dough out into a 10-inch circle and place on the prepared sheet pan. Spread the tomato sauce over the surface, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle with the cheese and top with the sausage and chilies. Crack a whole egg directly onto the center of the pizza, pulling the white out towards the edges with a fork. Place in the center of the oven and bake until the egg is set and the crust cooked through (it will sound hollow when tapped). Remove from the oven and cut through the yolk to let it run over the surface of the pie.
Makes 4 servings
Nutritional analysis per serving: 254 calories, 15 g protein, 33 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 7 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 481 mg sodium
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