I always try to eat delicious food. Unfortunately I don't have that much money, so I have to cook a lot of it at home. But thats OK because I love cooking and I love eating at home with my wife. This is a website with my favorite recipes and a little bit of commentary.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Cooking pizza in Louisville

OK there might be good pizza somewhere in Louisville but I haven't found it. Last weekend we were hungry for some deep dish. I went looking for the ingredients and found a great Italian grocer with all the San Marzano tomatoes, 6-in-1 tomatoes, cold cuts and other goodies I need. One very important ingredient is TOTALLY ABSENT in Louisville. THERE IS NO ITALIAN SAUSAGE TO BE FOUND IN LOUISVILLE!!! Krogers, a grocery store chain down here, has Johnsonville Italian sausage but it isn't anything even approaching what I would call good sausage. I decided to make my own.

Using the Kitchenaid mixer with the grinder attachment I ground a Boston Butt and mixed it with a few herbs and spices. It was extremely tasty and $7 worth of pork butt makes 6 pounds of sausage.

Hot Italian Sausage

4 pounds 10 ounces lean pork from Boston Butt
1 lb 1 ounce pork fat from Boston Butt
1 T salt
1 T black pepper
2 to 3 t crushed red pepper
3 cloves garlic
1 T paprika
½ t coriander
1 T Italian herbs
6 Parmesan
2 T fennel seed
6 T chopped parsley
6 T anise seed liquor

Once I got all my ingredients together I had to decide on a good pizza to make. I decided to make my Lou Malnati's's clone.

Malnati's Dough

Makes a 13 inch deep dish pizza

Combine 1 cup warm water with 1/2 package yeast. Stir and let the mixture sit until it is foamy. then add:

1/2 cup corn oil
2 T olive oil
2 t salt (sea salt preferred)
4 cups (16 ounces) of all purpose flour

Stir the ingredients up with a spoon until just combined, then set a timer for 2 minutes. Kneed the dough by hand for exactly 2 minutes. Once this is done, place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge overnight. The next morning before you go to work put it out on the counter. It will slowly rise all day. 8-10 hours is ok or even 12. When you get home preheat the oven to 450 with the rack on the lowest rung.

Assembling pizza

Take a 12 ounce block of mozzarella cheese and cut it into slices. Next take a large can of crushed tomatoes and add a little salt. I prefer 6 in 1 brand tomatoes.

Next take 2-4 T olive oil and put into the bottom of a 13 inch deep dish pizza pan. Take your dough and push it into the bottom of the pan, drawing it out with your hands until flat and riding up the sides by 1 and 1/2 inch. If there is excess dough you can trim it and throw out the excess. You want the dough to be only about 1/8th to 1/4 inch thick. Some of the oil from the bottom will inevitably spill onto the top of the dough. That is just fine. Next place the slices of mozzarella in the bottom of the dough. If you have some, sprinkle a little Romano cheese over the top. Next put some pepperoni down over the cheese. Next put a little bit of cooked italian sausage over the pepperoni. Finally put a layer of sauce over the top of everything, and sprinkle with parmesan and oregano. Immediately put the pizza in the oven on the bottom rack. Cook for 15 minutes and turn. Depending on your oven you will need to cook and additional 10 to 15 minutes until done. I know mine is done when the cheese bubbles up and starts to brown. The crust will be nice and golden brown as well. Let sit for 5 minutes before slicing.

The final portion of the meal was a soup. You shouldn't eat too many pieces of this pizza, it is very very bad for you. Instead have a bowl of soup with it. The perfect soup to serve with pizza is Neapolitan Minestrone. Pizza is from Naples so a soup from Naples is the perfect accompaniment.

Minestrone Alla Napoletana

1 yellow bell pepper
2 ounces pancetta (can substitute bacon)
½ onion
½ carrot
1 clove garlic
2 T olive oil
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 fresh flat leaf parsley sprig, chopped
2 potatoes, diced
¾ cup fava beans, shelled (can substitute kidney beans)
2 zucchini, sliced
1 cup peas
¼ cup cabbage, coarsely shredded
1 Belgian endive, cut into strips
2 eggplants, diced
1 cup pasta like cannolicchi
2 t chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated provolone (can substitute parmesan)

Place bell pepper under broiler and broil until skin is charred and blistered. Place in a plastic bag. When cool enough to handle peel off the skin, seed and dice. Finely chop pancetta with onion, carrot and garlic. Heat the oil and add the pancetta mixture. Cook over low heat for a few minutes until lightly browned. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes. Add 8 ¾ cups water and season with salt and pepper. Add potatoes and beans and simmer for 1 hour. Add the zucchini, peas, cabbage, endive, eggplants and yellow pepper. Simmer for 30 more minutes. Add the pasta and cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt if necessary. Sprinkle with basil and serve with provolone.