Pizza is widely understood to have originated on the Italian peninsula over 1000 years ago according to Wikipedia. A lot time elapsed until the 1940s when American GIs went to Europe during World War II and brought back home with them a taste for pizza. In more modern times, pizza has exploded onto the world food scene, both as a go-to fast snack to be enjoyed when time is of the essence, as well as having gained acceptance as highly regarded haute cuisine.
In the last 70 years or so, considerable innovation has occurred in pizza technology. This article will focus specifically on a treasured pizza style: deep dish pizza of the Hawai’ian type. Deep dish pizza is made by means of baking pizza in a deep pan, and is thought to have originated in Chicago around the middle of the 20th century. The famous Pizzeria Uno claims to have produced the first. Deep dish pizza consists of an inverted topping layer scheme: cheese, then protein and vegetable ingredients, then the tomato sauce, and finally a dusting of some sort of a pulverized cheese product. In this article, we will take it to the next level by laying out the optimal process for you to create a perfect artisanal, Hawai’ian-style, deep dish pizza.
It is important that, in order to make the highest quality, artisanal pizza, one must start with the finest ingredients. The pizza dough is no exception. If you do not feel up to the task of making your own high quality pizza dough, you can just skip this section and buy an acceptable pre-made dough. I would recommend the pre-made dough sold by Whole Foods Market, or alternatively, any dough sold by your local trattoria – just ensure that you confirm they use non-GMO flour.
•Approximately 2 US cups (450 ml) of Vermont’s finest King Arthur low gluten, unbleached white flour
•Approximately 1 cup (225 ml) of distilled water, Ty Nant mineral water, or other reputable water brand
•1 heaping tablespoon (15 ml) of Bob’s Red Mill, gluten free, active dry yeast
•1 heaping tablespoon (15 ml) of Wholesome Sweetener’s Malawian Fair Trade Natural cane sugar
•Approximately 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of pink Himalayan salt, Fair Trade and Conflict-Free preferable
•1 bottle of high quality imported extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) – I prefer Fair Trade EVOO from Tunisia, and always avoid oils that include trans-fats
Warm the water, because it will speed the activation of your yeast, and you will therefore not have to wait days or even weeks for the dough to rise. To warm the water, I would recommend using an electric kettle because electricity is clean power, but make sure you stop warming the water once it gets to a temperature of about 120F/50C. You need to do this to ensure that the yeast is not killed due to excessive temperature, as yeast is a living microorganism. Mix the warm water, the yeast, and sugar in a large mixing bowl until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let the yeast activate for about 10 minutes so as to reduce its toxin content. You will know that it’s time to move on to the next step if the liquid mixture develops a frothy head about fingernail-deep. Add to the liquid mixture a couple glugs of the olive oil, and the salt. Next, gradually stir in the flour until the mixture begins to form a viscous paste and gradually transforms into a ball of dough. Continue to add small amounts of flour and work the mixture with your hands, being careful not to add too much flour. Cease the addition of flour once the dough becomes only a little bit tacky. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. I like to throw that shit down into the bottom of the bowl and spank the dough. If the dough starts to stick to your fingers whilst kneading, simply dust your hands with a bit of flour, and continue. The purpose of all of this kneading is to begin to further break down the gluten – don’t worry – this process will also continue during fermentation as your dough is made to sit and rise. When the kneading has gone on long enough that the dough isn’t that tacky, form the dough into a ball, and cover with a thin layer of EVOO. Let the dough sit at room temperature covered with a towel. I suggest that you allow it to double in volume, about 1 hour at room temperature, punch it down/kneed a bit more, and let rise again for another hour as it ferments. As the dough sits for an extended period of time, the yeast digests, releasing gas by-products within the dough, resulting in a crust that is fluffy and not so dense.
Preheat your oven to 425F (or gas setting 7).
Take your baking pan – in this case I have chosen a Williams-Sonoma lodge cast iron skillet for a more rustic taste – and coat the baking pan with a liberal application of EVOO. If you are on a tighter budget, simply stop off at a Dollar General store (mind the smell – have a handkerchief on hand) and buy a steel baking pan for single use and ask your handyman to recycle it for you after you’re done. The quantity of oil used here is important. It will ensure that the crust becomes crispy, and at the same time, quite buttery and similar in consistency to First Nations Aboriginal People’s fry bread of the American Four Corners region. By using this amount of olive oil, it is ensured that the crust will effectively be fried during the baking process.
Extract the wad of dough from the bowl, deposit into the middle of the baking pan, and work the dough outward so that it forms raised edges thusly:
Bake the crust alone for about 15 minutes, when it has begun to develop its first signs of golden brown as illustrated below, not unlike the look of pre-burnt, naan. As the crust is still partially raw at this stage, it is therefore pliable and ready to accept the toppings.
Now, as this is the recipe for Hawai’ian style deep dish pizza, it must include the two staple ingredients: cured pork product (typically Canadian bacon) and pineapple. As everybody knows that the Polynesian races prefer to pair pork with tropical fruits for all of their meals, it is but a natural and a culturally sensitive choice that this pizza – Canada’s finest gift to the world – includes these toppings.
For the bottom layer, I have elected to use slices of Mozzarella di Bufala, derived from grass-fed, hand-drawn, free range milk. Press the cheese slices into the crust so that a deeper cavitation is created in the partially inflated crust – more room for toppings!
For the pineapple, I was able to obtain a rare pre-war, aged tin of pineapple chunks off from an Etsy seller, for its novelty factor. But it is equally acceptable (and even exciting) to use fresh cut pineapple slices. Just make sure that your pineapple is from non-GMO trees. Ensure that you drain off and sufficiently dry out the pineapple using unbleached, single source, fair trade, high thread count Egyptian cotton cheesecloth. I reserved the juice from my aged pineapple chunks for later use in a drink with cachaça, Angostura bitters and macerated mint leaves.
In terms of cured pork, here is the selection of toppings that I have chosen for this recipe:
•Enough slices of jamón ibérico to cover the bottom of a 14 inch diameter (about 3.5 decimeters) deep metal pan – I obtained slices at the cost of US$80/lb (don’t balk, the quantity you need is small, so this won’t break the bank!) Because this meat product originates from Europe, it is by definition 100% natural and organic.
•Applewood smoked bacon – cooked until strips are crispy and wick away excess pork fat with 100% post-consumer recycled paper towels. Discard the rendered fat. Do not undercook the bacon until merely chewy, as the British race is wont to prefer. The applewood smoke is a conscious choice, as apple has a natural synergy with pork. My local butcher sells me gluten-free cuts from free range, locally sourced animals.
•Free range ham steak – only choose locally sourced ham steak from swine that are massaged twice daily. Cut away the bone and trim away the fat, as you do not want the fat to render on your pizza and make it too greasy. Just throw the trimmings into your compost bin or allow your Salvadorian housekeeper to take them home in lieu of a good performance bonus. Note that I have deviated from the conventional rectangular slices of Canadian bacon, and opted instead to cut the ham steak on the bias to produce attractive parallelogram and diamond shapes which also enhance the flavour and mouth feel.
Proceed to layer the toppings.
We’re almost at the end! For my sauce, I slow cooked sun-ripened, non-GMO, organic San Marzano tomatoes along with pulverised fresh garlic clove and fresh chopped basil from my window sill terrarium, a pea-sized amount of anchovy paste to enhance umami, freshly ground Indonesian Fair Trade black pepper from Aceh, a splash of Amarone for sweetness and body, love, and just a kiss of organic smoked Oaxacan red chili flakes. Ensure that you produce a thick sauce and boil off much of the water, otherwise the end result will be ham, pineapple, and tomato soup in a bread bowl! Deposit the tomato sauce to cover all of the other toppings.
Lastly, before baking, you will want to use Parmagiano-Reggiano from Parma to liberally dust over the top of the pizza, along with a handsome amount of all natural Bottarga of your choice for additional umami.
Place the pizza into the oven to bake for another 35-40 minutes, or as needed to yield a beautiful golden brown deep dish crust.