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~ Culinary Q&A & Kitchen Therapy Too (10/8/10) ~

Culinary Q & A #2

This has been an "interesting" week.  I say "interesting" because: 

With the change in season and temperature (hot Summer to cool Fall) came a change in food.  Last weekend I started off October by making my ~ Apple-Braised Pork Pot Roast w/Apple Pan Gravy ~.  Yesterday, I found myself buying some beautiful veal loin chops to prepare in  some of ~ My Fresh & Spicy Tomato-Basil Sauce ~ that I made at the end of August!

The season of "let's just throw something on the grill" is over.  It was fun, but:  every year at this time, I personally think food gets more "interesting".  Everything, including food, seems to slow down in the Fall.  Every year at this time my mind turns to warm, comforting family dinners served family-style.  The kind where Joe and I sit down, sip wine and savor our food slowly.  The kind where no matter who shows up unexpectedly, there's always enough to go around.  The kind where afterward you just want to take a nap or watch a old movie.  Because of this, today, I am adding a new Category 19 to my list of your choices:  Just Family-Style Family Dinners! 

Kitchen Encounters had one great question this week regarding my recipe post ~ Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza ~, recipe found in Categories 2, 17 & 19: 

Chicago Pizza #1

Q. Jesse asks:  Help a brother out.  You know me.  I loathe vegetables on my pizza, almost as much as I hate chunks of tomato.  However, I am a member of the unique tribe that thinks that the crust is the best part of the pizza.  For that reason I can't give up on Chicago-Style Pizza, even though I always wind up disappointed and picking around stuff I don't like. 

What can a guy do?  Also, I have a book layin' around that says I can make this in a 10" cast-iron skillet.  What do you say?

A.  Kitchen Encounters:  Jesse, you are going to love the Chicago-Style pizza recipe I'm going to suggest for you to make in your trusty cast-iron skillet!  Here are my recommendations:

#1)  The pizza dough recipe I provided makes a large crust that fills a 15" round by 2" deep Chicago-style pizza pan perfectly.  If you use a 12" cast-iron skillet, my dough recipe will fit into it as the recipe is written.  When the dough is worked into any sized pan/skillet, you want it to be about 1/4" thick all over (bottom and sides).  If you use a 10" cast-iron skillet, you'll probably end up with dough extending over the rim of your skillet.  Trim off the excess and proceed with the recipe.  Whether using a pan or a skillet:  REMEMBER TO OIL THE BOTTOM AND SIDES before working dough into the pan/skillet with oiled fingertips.  REMEMBER TO LET YOUR DOUGH RISE IN THE PAN for 20-30 minutes before adding cheese, filling and sauce.

#2)  The Chicago-style sausage filling I provided is the traditional filling.  The Pizza Police will not come to your door if you change the recipe to suit your taste and style!!!  Use the filling recipe I provided as a guideline for how much filling to prepare.  Again, if using a 12" cast-iron skillet, the amount of filling I prepared will fit perfectly.  If using a 10" cast-iron skillet, you'll have excess.

#3)  Since I do know you, and I know what you like, I'm suggesting you make:  Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Taco Pizza.  The cornbread in the dough will be the perfect foil for your taco filling.  Line the bottom and sides of  your crust with 1 pound of grated white or yellow cheddar cheese (or my favorite:  Monterey Jack with jalapenos).  Do not press it into the crust, just gently distribute it over the bottom and pat it up the sides.  Start with 1 pound of ground meat, sausage or a combination of both.  Using that quantity of meat, prepare your taco or Tex-Mex meat mixture using ingredients, herbs and seasonings you like (onion, garlic, chile peppers, cilantro, chili powder, cumin, etc.).  Top your meat mixture with 2 cups of your favorite homemade salsa or store-bought salsa (green or red).  Because I would never put Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on a Tex-Mex taco pizza, I am going to suggest this:  bake your pizza, as directed, with the salsa being your last layer, for 30 minutes (with a round of aluminum foil that has been sprayed with no-stick spray, very loosely placed, sprayed side down, over the salsa, not touching the crust, to keep it from drying out).  During the last 5-10 minutes or so of the baking process, remove the foil and sprinkle 1-2 cups of grated cheddar over the top. This will finish baking the pizza and melt the cheese without burning it.  ENJOY!!!  PS... if you e-mail me a picture of your pizza, I will post it on next week's Culinary Q&A and Kitchen Therapy Too!

Have a great weekend everyone, and once again:  To leave a comment or ask a question, simply click on the blue title of any post, scroll to the end of it and type away!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2010)   


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