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.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Wig and Pen Pizza

I have been secretly working on a home version of the pizza served at Wig and Pen in Iowa City. I'm going to make a shocking and perhaps blasphemous pronouncement. The second best deep dish pizza is not served in Chicago. It is served at the Wig and Pen in Iowa City, Iowa. The crown, of course, goes to Gino's East.

The Wig and Pen serves a totally different kind of deep dish than Gino's. Wig and Pen serves a stuffed crust pizza. A similar style can be found at Giordano's in Chicago. I've heard through the rumor mill that the original owner of the Wig and Pen did some time at Giordano's before opening his place in Iowa City.

I've been working on my Wig and Pen recipe almost as long as I've been working on my Gino's recipe. We first ate Wig and Pen in 1993 after a football game with my friend Marky Mark F. He is a Chicago native and found Wig and Pen by happenstance. Soon after I was a secret regular at Wig and Pen.

I didn't have to go to near the trouble figuring out Wig and Pen that I did for Gino's. There wasn't any bribing of waiters for pepperoni suppliers. There wasn't any digging through dumpsters to figure out ingredients etc. I learned a lot about pizza from tinkering with my Gino's clone and most of how I figured out Wig and Pen comes from that experience. I am now finally happy enough with my Wig and Pen style pizza to post the recipe and instructions. As with my Gino's recreation, this isn't meant to be a clone of Wig and Pen, but an improved version that you can make at home.

My Wig and Pen Style Pizza

Makes enough dough for a 9 or 10 inch cake pan - enough for 2 people.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 package yeast
3/4 T brown sugar
1 1/2 t salt
1/4 cup corn oil
2 T olive oil
1/2 T sesame oil
3/4 cup warm water

For the brushing of the pan and the crust: 1 T butter, melted and mixed with 1 T olive oil

Combine the water, yeast and brown sugar in a big bowl. Let sit until the mixture bubbles up. Add in the flour, salt and oils. Stir with a spoon until well combined in a ball. Kneed by hand for 2 minutes. Like pancakes, you don't want this to be perfect. A little lumpy is what you are going for. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size. Punch the dough down and let rise again until doubled in size.

Making the Pizza
Butter the bottom of a 9 or 10 inch cake pan with the mixture of butter and olive oil.

Take 2/3 of the dough and roll it out thin - between an eighth and a quarter of an inch thick. Press the dough into the cake pan so that it is covering the sides. It is OK if the dough spills over the sides, you'll trim things up later. You'll need to decide about what kind of cheese you are going to use. I like to use a combination of fresh mozzarella, Kraft shredded part-skim mozzarella and a touch of grated Romano cheese. Shown here is the crust with some fresh mozzarella.
Next add in the rest of the shredded cheeses.

Add whatever toppings you desire. Please no fruits and vegies - this ain't California.
Roll out the remaining 1/3 of the dough into a round circle. Roll this out thinner than the bottom crust. Drape the dough over the top of the pan and press down inside. It is OK if the dough overlaps the top of the pan. Press it down onto the toppings a little, trying to get the air out. Poke holes in the top of the crust with a knife.
Run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan, leaving a lip of crust at the top. Brush the dough with the remaining butter/olive oil mixture.
The sauce you should use is 1 can of 6 in 1 brand tomatoes mixed with 1 T salt.
Spread the sauce out on top of the crust. Don't use too much! You don't want a soggy pizza. Use just enough to cover the crust evenly. Save the extra sauce for dipping or to use in another dish. Sprinkle the top with a pinch of oregano and some Parmesan.
If you were smart, you were preheating your oven to 450 for a half hour to an hour. You want one rack on the second to the top rung and the other somewhere below. If you have a baking stone, put it on the bottom rack. It won't be used to bake your pizza but I find that having a big chunk of hot stone down there makes the pizza cook more evenly. Bake the pizza for 10 minutes. Open the door and use a knife to poke a holes in the areas of the crust that are bubbling up.
After you poke the holes, rotate the pan 1/2 turn and close the door. Bake 10 more minutes at 450 and repoke, rerotate. Lower the heat to 350 and bake 10 more minutes and check the pizza. If the pizza looks done take it out and let it cool 7 minutes before slicing. You may need to adjust the baking time depending on your oven. Just so there is no confusion, the baking is summarized as follows:

Bake 10 minutes at 450, poke the bubbles and rotate
Bake 10 more minutes at 450, poke the bubbles and rotate
bake 10 minutes at 350 and check. If it isn't done bake it some more.

Here is what a "done" pizza looks like.
If you are a tame reader and you can't handle images of delicious and tempting food I urge you not to read on. I am sure there are several laws against pizza as tasty as you will see in the next photo. If you want to play it safe I suggest you close your browser now. If you are ready to accept the pizza challenge, see below.

Seriously people, looking at photos of pizza this tasty might get you thrown in jail in places like Alabama and Texas.

Still reading??

OK you were warned!

One more time in slow motion: