Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sunday Funday

A few weeks ago, I ate at Great Lakes Pizza in Chicago, which was named the Best Pizza in America by GQ (a review from me will be coming on or around 10/30 when I return there again, but I don't disagree with GQ).  I don't like being unable to do things that other people can, so I decided to make pizza for the Bears game.  Since I had 8 people to feed, I decided to do two different types of pizza to mix it up. 

The first pizza I decided to do was a knock-off of the one I had at Great Lakes.  This pizza was mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, garlic and bacon.  The second was a white pizza that had chicken, alfredo sauce, spinach, and pecorino romano cheese.  One thing I've unquestionably learned from this experience is that I am incapable of spinning the pizza through the air like I was Mario or Luigi or something (yes, I know they are plumbers, but you get the idea).  I blame my lack of Italian-ness, so I was stuck with the rolling pin. 

The oven broke down about halfway through, so there was a bit of a hitch in my day.  I recovered nicely though and the pizzas turned out awesomely.  My favorite was the white chicken pizza, but both were very good.  I also made a "junk" pizza for the last one of the day where I threw everything on it...that did not turn out well due to the fake and very slimy fake crab meat.  Disgusting, what was I thinking?  Ohhh well, can't win them all.  As you may have noticed from some of the other recipes in this space, I am no stickler for health food.  If something I prepare happens to turn out healthy, know that it was purely by accident.  Fortunately for taste's sake, this pizza wasn't such an accident.

Here is what I did to make the pizzas.  I wish the crust was a bit more airy and light, so next time I may use more yeast to make it rise better.  If you like very crisp crust (like a cracker) then this recipe will work great.  I used the same type of dough for all pizzas.

Dough (makes about seven 9" pizzas)
2 tspn active dry yeast
2.5 cups warm water (about 100 degrees to bloom yeast in)
2 cups of cake flour
5 cups of regular flour
3 tspn kosher salt
2 tspn honey
Olive oil

1.  Put yeast in warm water.  Stir yeast so all of it dissolves into the water. Allow it to sit for 4-5 minutes while yeast blooms.
2.  Combine cake flour, regular flour, and salt in a mixer bowl of a stand mixer.  Mix well so all dry ingredients are dispersed evenly
3.  Put mixer bowl on stand mixer.  Using the dough hook attachment, turn the mixer on low.
4.  Slowly add yeast mixture and honey to the flour mixture.  The dough will clump up and form a ball around the dough hook.
5.  The dough ball should feel smooth and moist, not sticky or overly dry.  If it is sticky, add a small amount of flour and continue mixing.  If it feels too dry, add a teaspoon of water and continue mixing.
6.  When dough is the proper consistency, remove from dough hook and knead for 10-15 minutes.
7.  Oil a large bowl with the olive oil.  Rub ball around the bowl, making sure the entire surface has some oil on it.
8.  Put dough ball in oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap.  Let it sit in a warm place for 2-3 hours until it doubles or triples in size.
9.  When dough is finished with this first rising, remove it from the bowl and punch it down with your fists.  Divide ball into 7-8 pieces that are all of equal size, and roll each piece into a ball.  Lightly flour your countertop and the tops of each ball.  Place balls on flour and cover each loosely with plastic wrap (they will double in size again).
10.  After about 90-120 minutes, roll or toss (if you know how) each ball into a pizza shape, being sure to flour the work surface and the pizza so it doesn't stick and tear.

Note:  The preparation for any type of pizza is the same up until this point.  At the start of either pizza, make sure to preheat the oven to its highest temperature (usually 550 for home ovens).  Also be sure to put the pizza stone or large baking sheet in the oven while preheating.

Red Pizza
1 large can of tomato puree
3 cloves of garlic, smashed, plus 2 cloves of garlic diced
1/4 onion, diced
1-2 tspn white wine vinegar
2 tspn oregano
1/2 tspn thyme
1/2 tspn fennel seed
2 bags mozarella cheese, shredded
8 slices of applewood smoked bacon, cooked and drained on paper towels
Olive oil
Kosher Salt

1.  Film a saute pan with olive oil and heat over medium-low heat until hot.
2.  Add diced onion and a pinch of salt, saute for 2-3 minutes
3.  Add garlic and continue to saute for 2-3 more minutes until onions turn translucent.
4.  Pour in the tomato puree
5.  Add vinegar, oregano, thyme, and fennel seed.  Mix well.
6.  Allow to cook for 45-60 minutes.
7.  Put sauce in a blender and blend on high until sauce is smooth
8.  Put a thin layer of sauce on the pizza dough.
9.  Break bacon into bite size pieces and place evenly around the dough
10.  Generously sprinkle cheese onto pizza until it is completely covered.
11.  Place a small amount of diced garlic ontop of the cheese.
12.  Put pizzas in the oven for about 8-10 minutes.  Make sure you watch very carefully since it is a 550 degree oven.  The pizza is done when the cheese is covered in dark brown spots.  Remove from oven and slice into pieces.

White Pizza
3/4 stick of butter
1 cup of parmesan cheese
5 cloves of garlic, diced
1/2 cup of whipping cream
1 tspn tarragon leaves
2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
1 bag of baby spinach leaves

1.  Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat.
2.  When butter is melted, add garlic.  Cook for 4-5 minutes.
3.  Add cream, parmesan cheese, and tarragon to butter mixture
4.  Cook, stirring constantly until smooth and then remove from heat.
5.  If the sauce clumps up when it cools, simply put over low heat, add a small amount of milk and stir until it is the proper consistency.
6.  Spread a small amount of sauce on the pizza, place spinach leaves around the sauce covering nearly the entire dough area.
7.  Place some of the diced chicken on the spinach, being sure to distribute it evenly.
8.  Cover chicken with Pecorino Romano cheese.
9.  Put pizza in oven on pizza stone for 8-10 minutes.  The cheese on this pizza will not brown very much, so be sure to watch to be sure the crust is not burning.

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