Showing posts with label failures. Show all posts
Showing posts with label failures. Show all posts

Friday, December 12, 2014

Salami Alfredo Pizza (Pizza Night!)

Gooey cheese and spicy salami on top of creamy Alfredo sauce for a hot mess of a pizza.
A subtitle could be: where to find the tools you need for successful pizza at home.

Almost as many times as I've shared a Friday Night Pizza Night recipe here I've also said to preheat a pizza stone if you've got one [one glaring exception would be deep dish pizzas which I cook in cast iron skillets]. Now I'm going to say that if you like to make pizza at home and don't already have a stone, GO GET ONE. I took my stone out to make room for the turkey last month and didn't even notice it was gone when I made a deep dish Thanksgiving leftover pizza [with green bean casserole--who knew?]. Last weekend I preheated my oven while I was dithering over what kind of pizza to make for my birthday**. I assembled my pies, opened the oven door to slide the first one off the peel onto the . . . . oops.

Well that was unexpected. I ended up using a cookie sheet and my crust was no where near where it usually is crispness-wise.  The stone really makes a difference. I even wrote an ode to mine.  Here's a link to King Arthur Flour where I bought my stone, and an Amazon affiliate link for good measure. The shape shouldn't matter, but I like how my rectangle fits in my oven and how I can easily fit multiple dishes on it when I'm baking. 

My stone is broken, but unlike a casserole dish I can just push the edges to close approximation and rock on. Compared to the cost of buying a couple of pizzas every weekend, it paid for itself 15 years ago. Ditto on the pizza peel [Amazon affiliate link to my sanity-saving pizza peel] which makes getting the pizza in and out of the oven terribly easy. Triple ditto the parchment paper, though I keep on buying that stuff so it's not like it pays for itself [silicone mats do not work in this instance]. My kids just don't hear such a wide array of colorful language when I use parchment paper.

There is a pizza recipe here, I promise. This was a hot mess of a pizza, but boy did it taste good. The pictures are lousy, but I decided to share it anyway because of the flavor. We had salami left from an antipasti dinner, prepared alfredo sauce because I cannot resist a magical markdown sticker, and mozzarella because people don't make a lot of caprese salads in the winter so there's marked down mozzarella at the fancy cheese counter. You'd think that I'd know better about using thawed mozzarella slices, but you'd be wrong. This pizza made a gooey, drippy mess all over the back of the oven when I lifted it up to broil the top (photo at the end).  It was worth it.

For general hints, tips, and photo collages please check out my Pizza Primer post, a brain dump of all things related to making pizza in my home kitchen.  For a photo album of pizza dough troubleshooting tips, please see my FB page.

Friday, May 2, 2014

{HNTM} Lou Malnati's Chicago Classic Deep Dish Pizza

{How Not to Make} Lou Malnati's Chicago Classic Deep Dish Pizza, packed with sausage and cheese and flavorful tomato sauce.

{How Not to Make} Lou Malnati's Chicago Classic Deep Dish Pizza, packed with sausage and cheese and flavorful tomato sauce.

Don't worry, like the trashy romance novels I adore, there is a happy ending [and a viable recipe] at the end of this post.  But when you find yourself saying 

"once I drained the pizza, it tasted pretty good"
you know there's a story worth sharing.

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Once upon a time [actually last month] a family traveled to Chicago for a short vacation. The dad planned out the route, the lodging, and the sights to see.  The mom prepared what to eat en route, arranged for the dogs to spend their first nights away from the family at a loving kennel, and scouted pizza places to try Chicago's famous deep dish style pizza.  [The kids grumbled about not spending a week lying on the couch staring at screens.]
Forgetting that pesky time zone thing, we arrived early enough to walk/roll around the downtown area, and especially to walk to the first pizza place on The List:  Lou Malnati's.  We ordered a Chicago Classic and a Lou. When they arrived, I took some mental notes:
  • The crust is not puffy, not like a yeasted dough that's allowed to rise at the edges.  It's not like Zebra Room flaky pie crust either. It's crispy/crunchy . . . maybe cornmeal?
  • The sausage was undisturbed until I cut through it with my fork--it was in a disc the size of the pizza pan, and without browned edges--I think it was placed raw on the pizza and cooked during the pizza baking time.
  • The tomatoes don't look like tomato sauce--they look more like my canned crushed tomatoes.  The juice is clear, not cloudy like in a cooked sauce with tomato paste.
And the taste?  Delicious!  Must re-create at home.
{How Not to Make} Lou Malnati's Chicago Classic Deep Dish Pizza, packed with sausage and cheese and flavorful tomato sauce.

With a basic idea in mind I set out to make a deep dish pizza.  My previous attempt at a deep dish pizza ended in a spectacularly inedible failure, shown on my FB page, when I attempted to cram way too much Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share spinach into the pizza.  But that merely tasted terrible.

My first attempt at a pizza similar to Lou Malnati's Chicago Classic involved grabbing a ball of previously fresh mozzarella out of the freezer.  Now, I know that using thawed balls of mozzarella results in a seedy pizza.  I've commented here about the phenomenon. However, I didn't heed my own advice.  First Big Mistake.

I also scooped out the crushed tomatoes using a slotted spoon, which meant that the tomatoes were already pretty juicy when they went onto the pizza. You know the heat of the oven is going to denature the proteins in the plant cell walls, causing them to burst and release more fluid--so that was my Second Big Mistake.

With those two mistakes synergizing in my skillet, it's no wonder why it happened. When I pulled the skillet out, the pizza looked great--if a little jiggly.  The cheese was browned, the sausage cooked and the crust was crisp--what you want in a pizza.

Then I tried to extricate the pizza, and a tsunami of fluid swarmed out--over the skillet, the counter, the cooling rack, and into the sink [everywhere but where the dogs could reach--they were disappointed]. Thus leading me to the comment.

{How Not to Make} Lou Malnati's Chicago Classic Deep Dish Pizza, packed with sausage and cheese and flavorful tomato sauce.
"once I drained the pizza, it tasted pretty good"