Author Topic: Happy To Be A Member Here  (Read 344 times)

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Offline Jdurg

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  • Location: Connecticut
  • If pizza's bad for you, I'm a VERY bad man!
Happy To Be A Member Here
« on: August 27, 2013, 08:04:49 PM »
Boy am I glad I discovered this forum.   ;D  I have been in love with pizza since the day I was born.  It's my savior, and as a Type I Diabetic, it's also my executioner.  Still, nothing a little bolus of insulin can't handle.  Heh.  Living in Southeastern Connecticut, I have always had access to nearly all types of pizza out there.  Due to my former employer's headquarters being in Manhattan, I had the pleasure of being able to spend a few days out in our NY office (company paying for the hotel) and work my way out to Brooklyn on a few occasions to check out the best of the best with regards to "NY Style" pizza.  On the way home via the train, I would also frequently stop at Pepe's and Sally's in New Haven to pick up New Haven Style pizza which is fantastic in its own right.  (With a Pepe's pizza now in the Mohegan Sun Casino near where I live, I can get good Pepe's Pizza whenever I want without needing to drive to New Haven to get it!)  Up the road in Plainfield, CT is a place called NYC Pizza and Pasta Company.  A place owned and run by "Brooklynites" who moved out to the suburbs here in CT to escape the busyness of the city.  They have such an incredible array of pizzas.  I never thought I'd EVER like a Caesar Salad Pizza, but good god is theirs great.  (It's a regular cheese pizza with anchovies in there, then after it comes out of the oven they put romaine lettuce on top and cover it with Caesar dressing.  Yes, it doesn't reheat at all, but fresh from their oven it's amazing).  It's very nice having true NYC style pizza available a quick 30 minute drive away from me, but also knowing that if I want to get the "real deal" I'm only about two hours away for a weekend trip.

Another nice thing about my former job was that I traveled a LOT.  I have spent much time overseas and was able to spend a week out in Rome a few years back.  While out there, I got to know what "real" Parmesan Cheese, Olive Oil, and Balsamic Vinegar tasted like.  On my way home, I brought back some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, though the olive oil has long since been consumed.  Still have plenty of balsamic as it's incredibly thick and concentrated and a little goes a long way.  Works great when putting a drop or two in any sauce to add some bite and a great deal of flavor.  What impressed me the most during my time in Rome was the Parmesan Cheese.  NOTHING here in the states seemed to be even close to the gritty, salty, yet creamy texture that stuff had.  I was very pleased when my local grocery store started selling real imported Parmesan Cheese.  (You can tell by the stamping on the edges on the rind, the origin of the cheese, and the ingredients list.  No preservatives, no binders, just salt and milk).  Finding that cheese here in the states has been a great addition to my pizza and pizza-related cooking.

One of the best trips my work sent me on was to a meeting in Chicago.  Around here, I had always heard of the debate between Chicago and NY Style pizza.  Frankly, it's not a debate.  They are two different styles of pizza and are both great.  It's like arguing between what's better; a properly cooked steak or a properly cooked hamburger.  They're both cuts of beef and both tastes great.  Anyway, the sad thing about living in New England is that Chicago Deep Dish Pizza just doesn't exist.  Nobody around here makes one, and if they do, what they sell isn't a Chicago Deep Dish Pizza.  It's just a pan style pizza with incredibly thick crust and no toppings.  To get my Chicago "fix", I had to order the frozen Lou Malnati's pizzas.  AMAZING pizzas, but the cost for them due to shipping was just way too much.  I couldn't see myself spending upwards of $100 for some pizza.  So I always longed to be able to try the real thing.  A few years back, I was sent to Chicago for a meeting.  Although I was dead tired from travel (I had just come directly from a meeting out in London, England), I wanted to get out into the city and try a deep-dish pizza.  The only place I could find within walking distance of my hotel (didn't feel like taking an expensive cab ride some place in a city I've never been in while on my own) was Giordano's.  So I lumbered down to there and waited to get in and get my pizza.  (My order was actually taken while waiting to be seated).  The pizza came out and it was the heaven I always though it would be.  Full of sausage, gooey cheese, buttery crust, and everything I had imagined.  The only sad thing was that I knew this might be the only time I'd get to try it as I could sense the eventual layoffs that took place last year.

So this brings me here.  I had been searching around the web trying to find a good recipe for deep-dish pizza as I had seen so many purported recipes online that were bogus.  I came upon a show by America's Test Kitchen where they actually had been to Chicago and talked with Marc Malnati about the Pizza before trying to recreate it on their own.  I gave that a try as I did have a Malnati's 9" pan that I had picked up during one of my many pricey pizza binges.  :p  I must give them credit as the dough turned out incredible and when I made the pizza for my weekly poker game, before I could blink it was devoured with a ton of compliments.  Still, that dough was a bit of a pain to make as it required lamination of the dough with butter, and just a great deal of work.

Since that experiment a few weeks back, I've been trying to find an easier recipe and that brought me here.  I now have a digital scale to weigh the ingredients, and arriving tomorrow are two 12" x 2" AMCO deep-dish pizza pans which will be properly seasoned and likely to get a ton of use.  In my fridge is a ball of dough that I made from a recipe here (Sadly, I did not have the time to go out and get any semolina flour so that will have to wait for the next iteration), and tomorrow I will put together another deep dish.  It's going to be hard to keep my weight off while enjoying this heaven, but an extra couple of miles on the treadmill will be worth it.  :D


scott123

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Re: Happy To Be A Member Here
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2013, 03:54:02 AM »
Jdurg, fantastic introduction post.  Your passion really shines through.

As a New Yorker, it hurts me to say this, but I think your average CT resident tends to be more passionate about pizza than your typical New Yorker.  I think NYers tend to take pizza a bit more for granted.

I'm sure you'll find the deep dish help you're looking for here, but I sincerely hope you try your hand at making NY style at home. The New York Pizza and Pasta Company looks like they put out a decent product, and trips to NY should give you some respectable slices, but, I promise you, if you take the information found here and use it to make your own NY style pie, it will blow anything you find in NY out of the water.

Same thing for Pepe's.  The New Haven pie you make with the forum's help might not put Pepe's best work to shame, but... Pepe's has pretty renowned consistency issues- at all their locations- so, at a minimum, your home pie will be a lot more consistent.

Offline Jdurg

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Re: Happy To Be A Member Here
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2013, 08:26:28 PM »
Thanks Scott.  Turns out, after spending more time reading the forums here, vcb's (Ed's) is the recipe I had found on ReadDeepDish.com that I had sitting my fridge overnight.  :D  My 2 12" x 2" DD pans arrived as I was prepping my dough for use in the 9" Malnati's pan today.  Since his dough was designed for a 12" pan, I figured I had enough for use in a DIY stuffed pizza. 

I just have to say that his recipe turned out great.  VERY easy to put together, and VERY easy to replicate since I have a good digital scale to use.  The house smelled GREAT as it came out of the oven.  I know that I deviated from his style in that I 1) used it to make a stuffed pizza and 2) didn't press it out in the pan and rolled it out on the countertop, but in the grand scheme of thing it doesn't really matter.  I got exactly what it was that I wanted.  A fantastic pizza and repeatable methods. 

Also, I am definitely a huge fan of NY Style Pizza and love it to death.  The only thing that's kept me from being able to successfully recreate it in my own kitchen is that I have a very tough time getting the dough to stretch out without snapping back to a small puck no matter what I do.  The end result is a tiny pizza with huge bubbles and very tough, chewy dough.  Not the chewy, yet pliable dough that I most remember.  (I'm also without a pizza peel, so my last attempt at getting the pizza into the oven resulted in a huge mess when the cardboard box with parchment paper I was using bent too much and dropped the mass of dough, cheese, sauce, and toppings into one lump on the stone.  lol).

But NY Pizza is definitely in my future, as well as Chicago thin-crust pizza, and all the other varieties.  I like to think that pizza and sex are pretty much the same.  Even when it's bad, it's still good.  :p :D

BTW, below is a picture of my creation today after my roommate and I each devoured some of it.  Just re-heated some a few minutes ago and it was still fantastic.  Perhaps I could have cooked it a tiny bit longer so there would be more deep browning on the bottom, but even though the bottom crust was an even shade of golden yellow, the food still tasted great.


Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Happy To Be A Member Here
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2013, 11:36:18 PM »
If you really want to recreate Malnati's, don't bother getting semolina. There is no semolina in Malnati's dough.

scott123

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Re: Happy To Be A Member Here
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2013, 04:13:46 AM »
Also, I am definitely a huge fan of NY Style Pizza and love it to death.  The only thing that's kept me from being able to successfully recreate it in my own kitchen is that I have a very tough time getting the dough to stretch out without snapping back to a small puck no matter what I do.  The end result is a tiny pizza with huge bubbles and very tough, chewy dough.  Not the chewy, yet pliable dough that I most remember.  (I'm also without a pizza peel, so my last attempt at getting the pizza into the oven resulted in a huge mess when the cardboard box with parchment paper I was using bent too much and dropped the mass of dough, cheese, sauce, and toppings into one lump on the stone.  lol).

Overly elastic dough is almost always a result of improper handling- kneading the fully fermented dough ball or re-balling too close to the stretch. Outside of the forum, you'll find people doing pretty wacky things, but the recipes you'll find here, as long as the dough is fermented well, will give you dough with good manageability.

It can get more complicated, but, at it's simplest, NY style is

Mix
Knead
Immediately ball
Refrigerate
Remove from fridge a few hours before stretching
Stretch/Top/Bake

If you've monitored your environmental variables (water temp, flour temp, dough temp after kneading, etc.) and used enough yeast to have a dough ball that's between 2 to 3 times it's original volume at the point right before you stretch it, then your chances for manageable dough are through the roof.

A good insurance policy for manageable dough is using a flour that's high gluten, but not super high gluten. Full Strength is pretty popular in CT, and should be pretty easy to obtain. At 13% protein, it gives you good gluten development and structure, with far less propensity for manageability issues and/or tough crumbs like the 14% flours (All Trumps, KASL) are prone to produce.

And, as I'm sure you're aware, you have to get a wood peel.

Offline JBailey

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Re: Happy To Be A Member Here
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2013, 09:12:11 AM »
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As a New Yorker
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