Pie of the Week #13
After making an untold number of farm to flame pizzas the last several weeks, and a bunch of them for thanksgiving, I nearly took a break from my weekly pizza experiments. Sorta. In the end, I did make one I’ve been contemplating for while: chili cheese pizza. I also had my first major pizza failure.
I tried to use the leftover apple pie filling I used on the apple cheddar pizza I made for our Thanksgiving feast, sharp cheddar, as well as some of the leftover cranberry sauce. I also used leftover dough, which was my big mistake.
The dough sat out in preparation for thanksgiving pizza, but wasn’t used. Then I put it back in the fridge, where it sat around for a week. Then, probably the biggest mistake, I let it sit out for an hour again, to make the new pie.
It looked spectacular on the peel! By far the best looking pizza I have ever constructed. I trudged out the hot pizza oven, visions of spectacular photos and delicious eats running through my brain. But when I tried to shake it off the peel, it didn’t budge!
An apple and some cranberry sauce fell off, though. All that sugar, at 960 degrees… A portent of things to come.
I tried to peel the pie off. I tried pushing it off with the turning peel. I tried half-baking it on the peel. That’s about where the apple and cranberry sauce that fell off burst into flames…
In the end, I used a spatula to half push, half roll it into the roccbox, into an amorphous blob. I ate some of it. Enough to know the flavors really would have been great, if not ruined by simultaneous burned char and completely raw dough…
Chili Cheese Pizza
I learned from my failure with my next attempt: chili cheese pizza. This time, I left the old, slack dough in the fridge until just before making the pizza. The cold dough resists stretching, but the loose gluten structure from being old stretches too easily and sticks. Put them together, and it’s passable.
I made the crust about like usual. It didn’t stretch evenly, so was more of a square shape, but that’s OK. Then, I spread leftover chile over it. Finally, I topped with cheddar, and baked.
I had to use some baking skills. The chili was fairly thick, yielding a heavy pizza. That meant it had to bake longer to heat the chili through, and that it would be hard to turn. I’m getting better with the turning peel. Not comfortable, but I screw up less, and have far fewer charred crust sides now. The key concepts seem to be heating the peel before using it (the insertion/extraction peel must stay cold…) and keeping the angle as parallel to the stone as possible on that first turn.
The other turning peel trick is doming. This involves lifting a pizza off the stone, closer to the flame. It lets you cook thicker toppings without burning the crust. which you need to do, with a heavy, wet, and thick topping of chili!
The pizza was… ok. I think the concept bears out. But it might be better to use something more like a chili dog or coney dog sauce. My usual chil is fairly chunky, with large bits of sausage and ground beef, chunks of onion, and kidney beans (yes, beans in chili). Sometimes I even add cubes of potato: much better than chili mac! A thinner chili, with smaller bits would spread more evenly and thinly. This was a really dense pizza!
I also should have added chopped onions and/or scallions. Perhaps raw, after removing the pizza from the oven. After baking an already long-simmered chili, it needed some fresh veg.
I also think I want to try it with peanut butter. Yes. Peanut butter and chili. Think I’m crazy all you want, but next time you have chili, try this plan: Take a piece of wheat bread. Even cheap squish bread if you must. Spread a thick layer of peanut butter on it. Fold it in half, and dunk it into your chili bowl.
When you’re nearly done with the chili, take a bite of that bread. You’re welcome! When the chili is gone, use the part that hasn’t been soaking (you already ate the soaked part anyway!), and use it to clean the bowl. Yummo!
It’s actually a flavor profile not dissimilar from traditional Southeast Asian dishes such as satay or gado-gado. And it’s delicious. Go on. It’s cold and windy out. You know you wanna…