Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Greatest Honor You Can Give a Tomato

As I started bringing home my crop share box, I started to think about what was in it.  Then, a lightning bolt from above:  there are plum tomatoes and mushrooms in that box on the back seat!  These being our first Romas of the season, I decided to convey upon them the greatest status a tomato can have:  to become part of a Chicago Deep Dish Pizza.  Quite an honor, little guys.  You're lucky.

Pizza done properly isn't just crackers and cheese, you know.  My native Chicago perfected the dish in the era of the Great Depression, when hearty Midwesterners decided to turn pizza into an actual meal.  Thus, deep dish is born.  The art of Deep Dish has actually been perfected in Champaign, Illinois.  Papa Del's has been an institution at my alma mater (Hail to the Orange!) for decades.  While in no way believe my efforts pay adequate homage to them, I try to model after their assembly.  I originally got the idea to make my own from watching television, and I've tweaked the recipe along the way.  You'll need a deep dish pan, and I use a bread machine for the dough.  Here's what you do:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • healthy dash red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups diced fresh plum tomates
  • 1/2 can tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup semolina flour
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 slices mozzarella cheese
  • 8 slices provolone cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Toppings of your choice (sausage, mushrooms, onions, spinach, et al.)
1. In a sauce pan, warm the olive oil. Cook garlic for 30 seconds, add spices and herbs and cook another 30 seconds.
2. Add tomatoes, paste, sugar and wine. Bring to a simmer, reduce to low heat and cook about 30 minutes until thickened. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.

Use the dough setting on a bread machine, putting ingredients in as your manual specifies.

1. Preheat oven to 425˚ F. Spray pan with cooking spray.
2. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface. Flatten into a disk. Working from the center out, stretch dough into pizza shape. It should come up the walls of the pan and overhang the edge all around just slightly.

3. On the bottom of the crust, tear half the provolone and mozzarella into pieces and create as even a layer as you can. Sprinkle half the Parmesan on top. Next, add a good layer of sauce.

4. Arrange your toppings on the sauce. Tear up the remaining mozzarella and provolone, then sprinkle the remaining Parmesan, making a layer on the toppings. Finally, add a generous layer of sauce. (Chicago pizza has sauce on top, otherwise the long cooking time would burn the cheese.)

5. Tightly roll the overhanging edges and create a small lip over the tomato sauce. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the edges start to brown and sauce is bubbly. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Pardon me, but my dinner is ready. ;)

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