Wife’s away…

…so I’ve been cooking up the stuff that’s not on her diet…which makes it not on mine. Funny how marriage works that way.

Started off with a pizza on Friday. Three cheese and pepperoni and salami.

My usual dough recipe, Egg setup (Bge stone on top of the AR) and temp, but for some reason it didn’t cook up like normal. Bottom was getting done, so I popped it on the oven under the broiler to finish up the top. Only thing I can think of is that my dough was less than 24 hours old and I usually let it go 48 to 72 hours. Oh well, still good.

Last night I went with burgers, 1/4lb patties

Double meat, double cheese, corn and some fries. Apparently we were out of tots.

Sitting here at work, trying to finish up and wondering what’s on the menu tonight. Me thinks wings might be in order…

New York Pizza – Attempt 3

…or Third Time’s The Charm!!

Look at that beautiful pizza pie!!
Look at that beautiful pizza pie!!

     Some of you may remember my first attempt at New York Style Pizza. Didn’t quite go as well as planned, namely due to an oversight on my part. All purpose flour is NOT the same as bread flour, just so ya know. So what about the second attempt? Well, that one never got documented (although I’m sure I have pictures floating around somewhere). When letting my Egg come up to temperature, the plate setter (which had gone through several low and slow cooks with nothing to protect it from drippings) literally caught on FIRE!! I wish I had pictures of that part. So we had to resort to the oven. That and I took the amount of dough for one pizza and tried to stretch it out for two. Ended up overworking the dough while forming the crusts. While it still tasted good, the extra stretching and overwork caused it to be thin and flat and had no rise when cooked. But the third time…well the third time was the charm!

Remember this recipe called for the dough to be mixed in a food processor?
Remember this recipe called for the dough to be mixed in a food processor?

     Once again, I have to give credit where credit is due. The recipe for this New York Style pizza came from Serious Eats, a website that has a whole section dedicated to different styles of pizza. They have put in a ton of time and effort reproducing regional variations of pizza (and burgers if you are interested)

Ingredients

  • 22 1/2 ounces (about 4 1/2 cups) bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • .35 ounces kosher salt (about 3 teaspoons)
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 15 ounces lukewarm water
  • 1 batch New York Style Pizza Sauce
  • 1 pound grated full-fat dry mozzarella cheese (about 4 cups), placed in freezer for at least 15 minutes
Yes, a scale really does help in making pizzas (and baking and sausage making)
Yes, a scale really does help in making pizzas (and baking and sausage making)

Directions

  1. Combine flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in bowl of food processor. Pulse 3 to 4 times until incorporated. Add olive oil and water. Run food processor until mixture forms a ball that rides around the bowl above the blade, about 15 seconds. Continue processing 15 seconds longer.
  2. Transfer dough ball to lightly floured surface and knead once or twice by hand until smooth ball is formed. It should pass the windowpane test. Divide dough into three even parts and place each in a covered quart-sized deli container or in a zipper-lock freezer bag. Place in refrigerator and allow to rise at least one day, and up to 5.
  3. At least two hours before baking, remove dough from refrigerator and shape into balls by gathering dough towards bottom and pinching shut. Flour well and place each one in a separate medium mixing bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise at warm room temperature until roughly doubled in volume.
  4. 1 hour before baking, adjust oven rack with pizza stone to middle position and preheat oven to 500°F. Turn single dough ball out onto lightly flour surface. Gently press out dough into rough 8-inch circle, leaving outer 1-inch higher than the rest. Gently stretch dough by draping over knuckles into a 12 to 14-inch circle about 1/4-inch thick. Transfer to pizza peel.
  5. Spread approximately 2/3 cup of sauce evenly over surface of crust, leaving 1/2 to 1-inch border along edge. Evenly spread 1/3 of cheese over sauce. Slide pizza onto baking stone and bake until cheese is melted with some browned spots and crust is golden brown and puffed, 12 to 15 minutes total. Transfer to cutting board, slice, and serve immediately. Repeat with remaining two dough balls, remaining sauce, and remaining cheese.
My dough ready for toppings
My dough ready for toppings

     Kenji didn’t mention anything about “docking” his pizza dough. I worked in numerous pizza joints in high school and college. In some, we “docked” the dough, in others we didn’t. Basically, its poking holes in it to prevent bubbles from forming when cooking the pizza. Where I worked, we had a roller that did it, now at home I just use a fork.

Top it with freshly grated mozzarella
Top it with freshly grated mozzarella

     We’ve discussed it before, but I’ll mention it again. Please grate your own mozzarella. Do NOT use the pre-grated stuff. It’s coated with “stuff” to prevent it from clumping in the bag…which also prevents it from melting nicely. And not part-skim or low-fat, get the full fat stuff. The other kinds don’t give you that stretch when you take a bite. Come on people, it’s pizza! Live a little. You’re already cheating on your diet, might as well go all the way. One last thing, don’t use the fresh or buffalo mozzarella. This isn’t a Neapolitan pizza, its NY Style. Save that for a pizza Margherita pizza.

All that hard work pays off.
All that hard work pays off.

     Ovens vary and cooking times will be different for everybody. Kenji suggests 12-15 minutes. I slid my pizza in the oven on my pizza stone that had been warming for one hour using the parchment paper trick. After 5 minutes, I opened the oven, slid the parchment paper out from under my pizza and gave it a 90 degree spin. Reset the timer for another 5 minutes. When it went off, I brushed some melted garlic butter on the edges of the crust and gave it another spin, almost done. Keeping an eye on it, I let it go another 2 to 3 minutes and it was done.

Check out those air pockets!
Check out those air pockets!

     Just what I was shooting for. Thinner than a pan pizza, but thicker than a Neapolitan. The bottom layer was crispy, but not cracker like with a soft, chewy bread like layer that was nowhere near a bland, flavorless crust. The sauce played along wonderfully with its balance of sweetness and acidity, not too strong or over powering in herbs and spices.  This has got to be one of my favorite pizzas I’ve made to date. And the best part…Mrs. G is out of town so I got to eat it all by myself. 😉

Odd Tidbits of Information

  • This dough requires a night in the fridge before its ready to use. Not saying that it’s not good the next day, but try leaving it for 2-4 days. The dough will have even more flavor.
  • Life gets in the way and for whatever reason you aren’t able to make your pizza in 5 days? Vacuum seal it and pop it in the freezer for another day. Whenever you are ready, take it out of the freezer the night before and allow it to thaw overnight in the fridge. The next day, let it rise at room temp for at least 2 hours (I went for about 3.5 hours) and it will come out just fine. That exactly what I did with this one.
  • The sauce also freezes just fine.
  • Please allow at least one hour for your pizza stone to come up to 500F. It will benefit you when cooking pizzas.
  • Do you find pepperoni to be too greasy? Pop it in the microwave for 15-20 seconds and then blot away the grease with a paper towel.

Tortilla Pizzas

Tortilla Pizza
Tortilla Pizza

Long time, no post, huh? Sorry about that, Guys. After Christmas, we took a few days off and headed down to the ranch to ring in the New Years. While down there, I developed a pretty nasty cold and ended up coming down with bronchitis, so I’ve been out of action for a while. I have done a few cooks, but none were really blog worthy.

January starts the busy season for Mrs. G, and as a result, she’s gonna be on the road quite a bit this month. And the next. 😦  That means a lot more solo cooks from me. Making pizzas using tortillas as the crust has been on my to-do list for quite a while now. I have been a bit worried about Mrs. G’s reaction to that, so I’ve been putting it off. With her out of town, I figured last night would be the perfect time to give it a shot. (And wouldn’t you know it, when I talked to her on the phone last night and told her, she actually said that sounded like a good idea. Go figure.)

Saucing the tortilla
Saucing the tortilla

Ingredients

  • tortillas
  • pizza sauce
  • mozzarella cheese (I added some cheddar as well, use what you like or what you have on hand)
  • your favorite pizza toppings
  • Italian Seasoning to sprinkle on top
I topped mine with a mixture of mozzarella, cheddar cheese, pepperoni, 'shrooms and black olives
I topped mine with a mixture of mozzarella, cheddar cheese, pepperoni, ‘shrooms and black olives

Directions

  1. Heat up your grill or oven to 400F and insert your pizza stone  to preheat for a minimum of 30 minutes (you do have a pizza stone right? No? Well go get one. I’ll wait here for you while you do that) For this cook, I used my Mini Big Green Egg and an 8″ pizza stone.
  2. Lightly sauce your tortilla and add your desired toppings. Go light on the toppings. The tortillas are thin and won’t stand up to a heaping of toppings.
  3. Place your pizza on the preheated pizza stone and cook for 8-10 minutes. Check your pizza about halfway and rotate for even cooking as needed. Check the bottom after about 8 minutes to make sure it isn’t burning. Cook until your desired level of crispness.
Done after about 8 minutes
Done after about 8 minutes

Tortillas being pretty small, I knew that one was not going to be enough for me. Leroy, aka Spring Chicken) on the Green Eggers Forum, mentioned doing a double layered one yesterday. Kinda like the Mexican Pizzas you get at Toxic Hell Taco Bell. Sounded like a good idea, so I tried it out on my second one. And before you get any ideas of that being a lot of food for one person, keep in mind that pizza stone I used was only 8″, so they were pretty small. 😛

Double layered tortilla pizza
Double layered tortilla pizza

Pretty much the same instructions as before, except I used two tortillas and put a thin layer of sauce and cheese between them.

After about 9 minutes
After about 9 minutes

Came out ok, but I think if I do a double layered one in the future, I would heat up the top tortilla for a few minutes to crisp it up a bit. I think it would give it a better texture/mouth feel than I got with a crispy bottom layer and a soft, warm upper layer.

Plated up on our best China. Hey...I did mention Mrs. G was out of town, no need to dirty more dishes when eating by myself.
Plated up on our best China. Hey…I did mention Mrs. G was out of town, no need to dirty more dishes when eating by myself.

If you are looking for a classic pizza, this might not be for you. But if you are looking for a quick dinner or snack or even an appetizer, this might be just up your alley. It has all the taste of a normal pizza and a crispy, cracker thin crust. Not the normal crust you would expect, but not the hassle of making dough, letting it rise, and stretching it all out. I also think it would be a great way to get kids involved in the whole cooking process.

Our First Deep Dish Pizza

Deep Dish Pizza
Deep Dish Pizza

     A pizza argument is something I shouldn’t get involved in. Chicago vs New York. Deep dish vs thin. Neopolitan vs Sicilian. What’s the best? I don’t know. I have never been to New York and tried their pizzas. Nor have I been to Chicago. I know there are die hard cult like followings of both and I wouldn’t want to offend any of them. Speaking of…this might not be a true deep dish pizza, but it sure was good AHH-Mazing!! That much, at least, I can tell ya.

     A recent trend on the Egghead Forum has been deep dish pizzas (at least that is what they are calling them). And I think one of the main reason’s was Zippylip’s Mushroom Lovers Deep Dish Pizza (you really should check it out). Ever since that post, people have been making them like crazy and I knew I had to try my hand at one as well.

Ingredients for dough
Ingredients for dough

     I’m not going to get into the dough recipe. I’m no expert by far, but Zippylip has a great write up with pictures HERE that will walk you through it and here is a condensed version:

Batch of Zippylip Dough 

1) Combine 1.5 cups of cold water, 3 cups of bread flour, 1 teaspoon of yeast and 1 teaspoon of salt; 
2) Mix with a spoon for a few seconds to eliminate any large pools of water; 
3) Let stand for 20 minutes; 
4) Mix on medium for 20 minutes (it will be very soupy, don’t worry); 
5) Turn off, cover, let stand for another 20 minutes; 
6) Turn mixer back on & add up to 1 additional cup of flour (about 1 tablespoon at a time) allowing it to incorporate. Repeat this until you get the consistency you are looking for (it should be pulling away from the bowl, yet still be sticky enough so that it is a pain in the ass to get out of the bowl); 
7) Remove from bowl, cut into individual pieces (2 for 2-16 inch pies, 3 for 3-12 inch pies, or 4 for 4-12 inch thin-crust pies or 2 deep dish pizzas in a 10.5″ Cast Iron Skillet); 
8) Place in separate oiled plastic containers & cover; 
9) Refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours and up to 4 days; 
10) Remove about 2 hours before you are ready to use; 
11) When removing from the bowl, be patient, it will want to stay in the bowl, this is normal; 
12) On a floured surface, gently shape the dough (due to the higher moisture content, this dough will be harder to work with than more typical dough, so be careful not to tear it – tossing will not likely be possible); 

     I will say that you may need to play around with the water and flour ratio to get it just right, will probably depend on your location and weather conditions. I had to add more water to get the soupy consistency mentioned in step 4.

     So you’ve made your dough, you’ve let it rise in the fridge for 24 hours at least (I know, seems like a long time and a lot of work, but it’s worth it, I promise) and you’ve pulled the dough out and are ready to get started. Take out a 10.5″ cast iron skillet. Add oil just enough to coat the bottom (I used canola oil), then turn over your plastic container holding the dough and let it fall into the skillet. That’s it, don’t shape the dough, don’t knead it, don’t stretch it out. It will do that on its own. (Step 12 is more for a hand tossed pizza or a thin crust.) Now its time to let the dough rise at room temperature. But wait…it’s winter right now. I don’t know about you, but I know our house isn’t warm like in the summer. So what do you do? Turn the light on in your oven and place  the dough as close to it as possible. It will generate just the right amount of heat to allow it to rise. Trust me on this one.

My dough after rising in the oven for 3 hours (I know it said 2, but I had to go to a doctor's appointment and then the store. I'm sure two will be fine)
My dough after rising in the oven for 3 hours (I know it said 2, but I had to go to a doctor’s appointment and then the store. I’m sure two will be fine)

     OK…you dough has risen, now its time to talk sauce. You have a favorite sauce? Ok, use that. You want to buy a store bought one or one from a restaurant? Ok, go for it. We opted to keep it simple. And by simple, I mean really simple. We took a can of diced tomatoes, the basil, garlic and oregano seasoned ones, 14.5 oz or whatever size they come in, and drained the liquid but reserved it in case we needed to thin our sauce. Dumped it into a skillet and then mashed the tomatoes using a fork. Heat on medium and adjust to taste using salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and maybe some garlic powder. Once you’ve got the flavor you want, turn off the heat and allow to cool. How easy was that?

Our simple sauce for pizza
Our simple sauce for pizza

     You’ve got your dough, you’ve got your sauce, now its time to talk toppings. I don’t know if there are special rules for toppings for deep dish pizza. If there are, who cares? This is your pizza. I say top it the way you want. We opted for pepperoni, our Home-made Hot Italian Sausage (which we are now out of 😦 ), mushrooms and red onions, but you can add whatever your lil heart desires.

Browning up the last of our Hot Italian Sausage
Browning up the last of our Hot Italian Sausage

     Time to start topping your pizza now that you have decided on what you want on it. Sauce first, right? Wrong! On this pizza, you don’t want the sauce to go down first. The liquid of the sauce will mess up the dough. You’ve got to protect that dough.

Start with cheese
Start with cheese

     Start with a layer of cheese. Mozzarella. But don’t use that pre-shredded stuff. We’ve talked about this before. Its got chemical and stuff added to it to keep it from clumping. That also keep it from melting nicely and leaves a gritty texture. No, buy a block of cheese and grate it for yourself. It’s cheaper, too. 😉

A pizza isn't complete without pepperoni!
A pizza isn’t complete without pepperoni!

    Follow the cheese with your choice of toppings. We started with pepperoni.

The rest of the stuff
The rest of the stuff

 Then added the sausage, mushrooms and diced red onions.

Let's get saucy!
Let’s get saucy!

Followed by our sauce. Can you guess what comes next?

More Cheese!!
More Cheese!!

If you guessed more cheese, move to the head of the class. You guys are so smart.

On to the Egg
On to the Egg

     Time to get cooking. Guess I should have mentioned to pre-heat your grill or oven to 425. Whoops. If using an Egg, the placesetter should be used legs down (and pre-heated a minimum or 30 minutes). Then place your cast iron skillet on top of the three green feet or use spacers of some kind to elevate it off of the placesetter.

20 minutes in
20 minutes in

Check your pizza every 10 to 15 minutes and rotate it to ensure even cooking.

35 minutes in and done
35 minutes in and done

Our pizza took about 35 minutes at 425F. Your times may vary and you may want to pull it earlier depending on how much you like your cheese browned.

Resting
Resting

Upon finishing, bring your pizza inside. Using a thin knife, cut around the edge of cast iron skillet so that you can remove the pizza and then allow it to rest on a wire rack for 3 to 5 minutes. Leaving it in the pan will cause the crust you worked so hard on to get soggy.

Sliced
Sliced

Mmmm…doesn’t that look good. Look at all those air bubbles in the crust. Light and airy.

View of bottom
Golden brown and crispy crust

One bite was all it took. I was in love. Heavenly. Crispy crust on the bottom, yet slightly chewy. Light and airy with a slight buttery flavor from the oil it cooked in. pepperoni and a bit of heat from the sausage. Every bite better than the next. We sliced it into six pieces and even though I thought I was only going to have one, I ate two. I just couldn’t stop myself. Mrs G, who has been to Chicago and eaten plenty of their pizzas, at one point said that it could stand with any of the famous places. I don’t know about that, but I’ll take her word for it. I usually prefer thinner crust pizzas, but now…I don’t know…this might be my go to style. And the good news…that dough recipe…it makes enough for two. So I’ve got another ball in dough in the fridge. Guess I’ll be having pizza again this weekend. 😉

Pulled pork Nachos

Pulled Pork Nachos

     I was rooting around in the freezer the other night, trying to see what had become lost in it and to plan some dinners for this week when I discovered a bag of pulled pork that I had totally forgotten about. How is that possible? Anyway, this was from an Overnight Pork Butt back in April and was our first time using a pit controller (don’t worry, the pork was vacuum sealed so no freezer burn).

     I didn’t want to just reheat it and make pulled pork sandwiches, however. Just wasn’t feeling it. I was looking for something different. I asked on Facebook on Wednesday what people’s favorite ways were to use leftover pulled pork and got some really great answers – loaded baked potatoes with BBQ sauce, pulled pork pizza, pulled pork smoked mac n cheese (think Mrs. G really wants to try this one), tacos and BBQ sundaes. Although all seemed good (and I’m gonna try some with the next bag, did I mention I found 3 bags?), I opted to stick with my first inclination…pulled pork nachos.

Building the bottom layer

Ingredients

  • leftover pulled pork
  • tortilla chips
  • shredded cheese (I used a mixture or Oaxaca, Chihuahua and cheddar cheese, what I had on hand)
  • Hatch Enchilada Sauce
  • pico de gallo
  • optional – sour cream, guacamole, jalapenos
Add some pulled pork

Directions

  1. Begin  by laying down a bed of tortilla chips on a cookie sheet.
  2. Top generously with cheese, enchilada sauce and pulled pork.
  3. Add another layer of chips on top and repeat with cheese, enchilada sauce and pork. Build it as high as you want.

    Second layer added
  4. Place  under a broiler (set at 500F if you oven allows you to do this) and bake until cheese is melted. It only takes a few minutes.

    Hot, fresh, right out of the oven
  5. Remove from oven and top with pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole and jalapenos.
Ready to eat

     The pulled pork really added another level to the nachos. The smokey flavor from the pecan and hickory came through along with the twang from the North Carolina Vinegar Sauce that was drizzled on before freezing it. The pico de gallo had just the right amount of heat and the sour cream and guacamole did a nice job of cooling it down. It’s nachos, so I’m not sure why I am explaining them to you. You’ve had them before. Now go out and try them with pulled pork.