I’ve been discussing this project in hushed tones for the past few months due to my irrational fear that it’ll get ruthlessly co-opted by a global pizza conglomerate, but I just can’t wait any longer. The world needs to know about this.
The world needs to know about The Stuffalo Crust Pizza.
Codenamed “Project X,” The Stuffalo is the brainchild of my friend Jason Fetz. It’s a riff on the Pizza Hut stuffed crust, the novelty that inspired an entire generation of Sega-playing indoor kids (and Ringo Starr) to consume slices backwards. A rope of mozzarella was rolled up into the edges of the dough to produce a gooey, sinful and clearly unnecessary eating experience. As you might’ve surmised, The Stuffalo takes this idea and poultryfies it buffalo chicken, not cheese, is what’s being crammed into crusts in 2009.
I recently assembled some friends, including Jason, in my home kitchen to make the Stuffalo up to that point just a fun topic to bring up while shamefully drunk at the P.O.P.E. a tangible, scarfable reality.
How’d it turn out?
Just as I expected.
Since this was our first attempt at baking The Stuffalo, no one was sure where to begin. So we decided to experiment with several different techniques and fillers to determine which approach made for maximum Stuffalology.
A heated debate arose when discussing what type of buffalo chicken would produce the best results. An alcohol-fueled faceoff promptly developed between the breaded, already-nuggeted chicken and raw meat contingents. We decided to bake three separate Stuffalos one featuring pre-cooked popcorn chicken simmered in a homemade buffalo sauce, another built around skinless chicken breast sautéed with the sauce in a pan, and a third option featuring Morning Star Farms fake buffalo wings in lieu of real-person pollo.
We began by prepping ingredients, most notably the buffalo sauce nothing more than Crystal, melted butter and a few dashes of salt and pepper. Various cheeses were grated. Onions and mushrooms were chopped. Sauce cans were popped. Crappy Ikea pizza pans were lightly oiled because it seemed like the proper thing to do.
Then came the task of prepping the pie base itself. We acquired sacks of ready-to-go dough from Shop-Rite, but having minimal experience with the squishy stuff made stretching and pan-fitting a challenge. (No one attempted to throw it.) My buddy Ryan Beck, who you can see in the first set of photos above, succeeded in making the dough his lady, getting it ready for the most critical moment of the experiment the stuffing of the uffalo.
Stretching the dough out so it hung over the edge of the pan helped create a foldable lip for our first attempt, which involved that rough-chopped popcorn chicken. But this didn’t mean that the process went smoothly. Arranging the chicken and folding the dough over the cargo was easy getting that dough to stay put like good dough should, however, was much more difficult. There was much cursing and pinching and thumb-thrusting, which eventually led to the demented result in Set 2 of the photos. No matter, though after applying our sauce and cheese, our first-ever Stuffalo Crust Pizza went into a 450-degree oven for about 12 minutes.
I know you’re supposed to wait when it comes to these things, but as soon as we removed piping-hot Stuffalo #1 from the oven, we cut it up, dumped some Ken’s bleu cheese dressing into a ramekin (for dipping!) and dug in with little to no regard for the welfare of our tongues. Verdict? Thing was ugly as hell, but it tasted like heaven. There was a noticeable sogginess to the breading of the chicken in the crust, but aside from that, the conceptual Stuffalo was a success the signature zesty kick of buffalo sauce was properly encapsulated, and in many ways intensified, by its chewy crust blanket.
The cheese/sauce part of the pizza was good, too.
Stuffalo #2, which featured raw skinless chicken marinated in sauce and sautéed in a pan prior to stuffage, had the distinction of featuring additional toppings pepperoni, mushrooms and onions got the scatter treatment for this round. Another difference here was the decision to spread the tomato sauce prior to folding the dough over the chicken, which resulted in a bit of it leaking into the crust itself. That lent to the overall tenderness of the stuffing, but found myself wishing there was more breaded crispiness in each bite.
Then there was Stuffalo #3 the fake chicken one. I personally prefer my buffalo flavor delivered doused as opposed to baked in, but I have to give it to the Morning Star pizza for featuring the most inside-the-crust crunch of all our attempts.
This was our first foray into the dangerous, glamorous world of The Stuffalo Crust Pizza, but definitely not our last. I’ve already drawn up a strategy combining all the best aspects of each pizza by preparing my own breaded chicken at home I think it’ll alleviate any sogginess and provide the elusive crunch I so long for. Maybe we’ll drizzle the pie itself in blue cheese dressing next time or maybe we’ll even use crumbled bleu instead of shredded mozz/cheddar on top. We can really go in any direction with this and knowing as much fills my heart with radioactive levels of joy.