This weekend I made my first Chicago style using DKM's recipe scaled for a 12 inch pan. I have always liked the Chicago style, but to me it is essential to have sausage to capture the essence of the style. Yet I was making this for a dinner guest that is vegetarian.
This left me with two options -- no sausage or try one of the vegetarian fake meat products. I decided to use a product called "Gimme Lean" which is found in the vegetarian/health section of most grocers. I had cooked with their "beef" style product before and found it to be rather poor. I decided to try their "sausage" style product.
When I used their "beef" product I found the taste to be close but no cigar, but what really turned me off was the texture. It was quite hard and rubbery. I had precooked the "beef" because the directions on the products packaging said to use it as you would use beef in the recipe. But after doing this I felt it would have been best to not precook it and just put it in the past sauce and simmer for 45 minutes.
So trying their "sausage" product, I decided to not precook it and just cut chunks and use as a topping and let it cook as the pizza bakes. I used DKM's crust recipe, made my own sauce out of San Marzano tomatoes and paste and spices, and used sargento whole milk mozz on teh bottom layer, followed by the sausage, followed by the sauce, followed by the parm cheese.
The results we excellent. Had I not known the sausage was a non-meat alternative, I would have never guessed. The flavor was right and the texture was right. They got the spices right and it added to the aroma of the pizza just as it should.
I also enjoy pepperoni, but was not in the mood to try a fake pepperroni. So I put about 12 slices of peperoni on a plate and drizzled with olive oil and covered with a paper towel and microwaved for about 20 seconds. Then I put the plate of peperoni in the oven the last 5 minutes the pizza was baking to slightly bake the peperoni. I didn't want the pepperoni fully done and crisp, since in a Chicago style it would be under the sauce and remain non-crispy. As I served myself a slice, I added the pepperoni to my slice once it was on my plate.
I could have put pepperoni on just have, but the juices from the pepperoni would run into the other half, etc. I have to respect my guests food choice and cook accordingly. I personally can't eat liver and I wouldn't touch a food that had liver on it even it if was just on the half I was not eating.
The end result was excellent. Thanks to DKM for the crust recipe! I put too much sauce on it. Other than that, it was perfect. The fake sausage was great. Thanks to Pete-zaa for scaling the recipe for a 12 inch pan in a thread I found here. If I was doing it again, personally I would also use thinly sliced onions also as a topping.
Obviously this is veggie but not vegan because of the use of real cheese. Thankfully I am not boxed into a vegan diet with this guest. I know there are fake cheeses available, but I am not even going to bother trying that. I don't even find real cheese that is not whole milk to be acceptable on a pizza, so I don't have any hopes that a non-dairy fake cheese can work. Maybe I am wrong, but doubt I will ever find out.