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.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Gino's East Pizza Recipe

I bet you can't guess what is rising in my oven right now. I got home a little early today and put the dough together. If you look at the remnants of my original recipe, you will see all of this nonsense of making a slurry with the corn meal etc. I figured out that it doesn't really matter.

Think about it. If you are Gino's East, you want to be able to make pizza really really cheap. It also has to be so easy to make that any idiot off the street can make it for you. My old recipe was way too complicated and would be WAY too expensive to make on a large scale, so it can't be the way Gino's does it. The most distinctive thing about Gino's crust is that it is bright yellow. My problem is that I was trying to get that yellow color using corn meal, and the more corn meal I added, the more difficult it was to keep the crust from getting grainy.

I actually came to the answer to the yellow crust by way of Cuba and India. Let me explain. I was trying to make tandoori chicken for years. I could get it to taste right but I couldn't get it to turn bright red, no matter what combination of spices I used. I looked at lots of Indian cookbooks, but it wasn't until a lot later that I found a cookbook with the secret in it. Then I took a trip to Key West and at at a laundromat. I got a Cuban sandwich with yellow rice and black beans. I loved it and immediately tried to figure out how they made the yellow rice, not thinking that it would translate into a Gino's pizza crust eventually. I bought the book Cuban Home Cooking from a gift shop in Key Largo. As it turns out, yellow rice was probably based on the Spanish recipe Saffron rice. But saffron is damned expensive. To make yellow rice in Cuba, they use a powder with a couple spices and yellow food coloring! I went to a Cuban grocery store in Miami and bought 6 bottles of Badia Amarillo Yellow Coloring. Its funny because I have six bottles of it. I make yellow rice all the time and I haven't even used a tablespoon of it yet. So anyway that solved 2 problems. I figured out that Tandoori chicken is red because its got red food coloring in it, and Gino's East pizza crust is yellow because its got yellow food coloring in it. Problem solved.

A few other secrets are that they use the cheapest possible flour - H&R (hotel and restaraunt) flour. They get the dough made at an outside supplier and it arrives, refrigerated, in big containers, early in the morning. The dough waits all day to be made into pizzas. That explains why if you get a pizza there late in the evening the crust almost has the flavor of beer. It has risen so long that it begins to ferment.

Gino's East Pizza Crust Recipe

1 cup of warm water
1 package yeast
1/2 cup cornmeal or corn flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 T corn oil
2 ½ to 3 cups of cheap generic flour
Yellow food coloring – the real secret to why its yellow.

Take the water and put it in your mixer. add yeast and a touch of sugar. Let the yeast foam up to be sure that it is active. Then add the rest of the ingredients including 2 1/2 cups flour. I usually end up adding between 1/4 and 1/2 teaspoons of yellow food coloring. Using a dough hook, kneed the dough until it is well combined. If the dough is sticky add a little more flour. The dough should be moist but not sticky. Let the mixer kneed the dough for 10 minutes. Put it in the oven to rise. If you desire a late in the day pizza taste (beer like), then let it rise all day.

Assembling the pizza -
Preheat oven to 350. After the dough has risen take your deep dish pizza pan (or a round cake pan with straight sides) and coat the inside of it with a very healthy coating of melted butter. Roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thick and up it in the pan. Then pinch the dough up along the sides of the pan. Now put your cheese, and I mean a lot, into the crust. Then add your pepperoni, and finally your sauce. Bake in the oven until the crust is starting to brown and cheese is starting to bubble up through the sauce. The little edges of the pepperoni should also be starting to crisp.

And thats about it. I hope everyone is watching the debates tonight, an informed public is best.

Here is a video of the whole process...I've changed the recipe and methods just slightly so don't be alarmed.