Meatless Monday


My first official meatless Monday.  Last week was supposed to be the first, but tamales were brought to the employee meeting and my resolve only extends so far. That distance can’t cover brisket stuffed tamales.

This morning I went to the beach.  Heavy rains from yesterday puddled mirages in the sand

emptying the beaches.

I laid in the sand and listened to nothing but the waves, no families, no dogs, no swimmers. Just the rhythm of the waves.

They tried to steal my bikini bottoms when I went swimming.   Cheeky waves.  I caught them just in time.  My dignity, such as it is, remains intact.

I have a lot of nostalgaic attachments to “beach food”, or at least what I came to know as “beach food” growing up.  Every time we would go to the beach at Lake Holiday just past Sandwich, Illinois, my mother would bring grapes and watermelon, and we would stop at KFC and get buckets of fried chicken.

These are still my favorite beach foods, but I didn’t have the time or wherewithal to make/procure them before I went this morning. Instead I indulged myself in one of my remaining packaged guilty pleasures – Doritos.  The advantage to eating these on the beach is that unnaturally orange stain that the pasteurized processed cheese product leaves on your fingers washes right off in the water.

So this evening, I resolved to eat better.  Naturally, for me that means deep dish pizza and beer batter mushrooms.  What?

So, once I got home I started the dough –

Pizza Dough

1 tbsp active dry yeast (or 1 small package)

8 ounces beer

14 oz of flour (bread if you have it) – about 2 1/2 cups

1 tsp salt
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tbsp honey

Stir yeast into the beer to dissolve, let bloom for five minutes.  Or don’t, if you’re yeast confident.  No matter.

What's that you say? I'm using a lot of beer in my cooking this summer? Yes, reader, yes I am. And it's hardly going to stop, so if you want to follow along, go get yourself a six-pack, baby.

Combine flour and salt.
Stir olive oil, honey, cool water, and yeast mixture together and add to the flour mixture.
Knead with dough hook in stand mixer for 5 minutes or 10-12 minutes by hand.
Place dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover. Allow to rise in a warm, draftless place for 30 minutes.

While the dough is rising, prepare the pizza sauce.  I went with a slight variation on the last one.  Marinara Sauce II.

Take dough out and form gently into a ball.
The dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refridgerated for up to 2 days, or frozen for 6 weeks.  If freezing, needs to thaw in the fridge before using.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into 1/4 to 1/8 inch thickness. Oil a cast iron pan or cake pan with olive oil. Lay dough gently into pan.

At this point, I thought to trim the dough, but instead, I folded mine over.

Big mistake.  If I wanted a thicker outer crust, I should have trimmed to an inch overhanging the pan, and then folded that under outside the pan, as I would a pie.  This got far, far too crusty.  You’ll see. I was thinking, all these fixings will weight it against the pan.  How big could it puff? Learn from my serious error in dough judgement.

Next the filling –

Deep Dish Pizza Filling

1 lb of mozzarella cheese, grated
1 batch of Marinara II
1 roma tomato I had lying around (but whatever you like.  Peppers, onions, olives, prosciutto, you know what you like)
1/4 – 1/3 cup Pecorina Romano (parm would have been just fine)
1 Tbsp melted butter

First I grated and laid down the cheese.  If you wanted, you could put some olive oil on the crust first.  I tried laying down a thin layer of pasta sauce, but I wouldn’t recommend this.  Either go whole hog, all the pasta sauce first, or save it for the top.  The very tippy top of the crust was still dough-y, and I suspect it was the layer of pasta sauce.  I have no evidence or even theory to back this up.  But somehow, someway, I know that tomato sauce layer is the culprit. In any event, the pound of cheese.

Then the tomato

If I had had more than one tomato around, I would have used it.  Again, whatever you like.  There is plenty of room for stuff in this thing.

I finished with a thick layer of sauce, reserving 1/2 cup for my mushrooms. Grated some pecorino right on top, and then brushed the crust with butter for a nice buttery crispness.  You could use olive oil if you want.  Some sea salt along the crust wouldn’t be amiss, either.

Then I had mine at 425 for @40 minutes. After that, I turned the oven off but left it in the oven for another 20 minutes to solidify things.  At 20 minutes the crust was browned but not baked through.  I had to cover it with foil for the rest of the bake time. This was really the fault of the thickness of the crust.  Another miscalculation. If you don’t have a massive crust overkill going on, you can go on very high heat.  I’d say 475 for 30 minutes.  That ought to do it.  Give it ten minutes to set either way.

The cheese was really gooey, so when I cut it, it ran all over.  Despite all the pizza’s shortcomings, it was pretty good.  However, someone may have gorged herself on beer batter mushrooms and didn’t really have room for much.  Most of it ended up in the fridge to set up so that it would be easier to cut in the morning.

Beer Batter Mushrooms

1 cup flour
1 cup beer
1 tsp kosher salt
freshly cracked pepper
1 lb mushrooms, tossed in 1 tbsp olive oil and salted

(some recipes would have you add garlic powder to this.  I avoid the stuff most of the time, but next time I’ll try it and update you if it helps)

Heat vegetable oil to 325.  Just enough oil to submerge the mushrooms in.  It’s important the oil be @325 give or take 5 degrees so that the outsides don’t brown before the mushrooms are cooked through.

Mix together the flour, salt, and pepper.  Add beer.  Whisk together until smooth.  Batter should be like middling thick pancake batter.  Mix mushrooms in batter until coated.  Drop in oil.  As close as you can comfortably get because mushrooms canonballing into hot oil is bad news, believe me.

Fry for about 8 minutes.

Until golden brown and delicious –

Holy hot damn, these were good.

I covered my oil in the pot and let it cool until morning.  Then I strained it and stored it in ball jars for the next time I make these.  Next time, I’m going to try some very dark beer, like porter.  Because these were good, but more beer taste would be even better. I would also sprinkle some fresh oregano on these puppies to take them even further.

In the morning, the pizza was firm enough to cut.  As you can see, I was only able to make a pathetic dent after scarfing down all those mushrooms.

And if you’ll look at the cross section you’ll see what I’m talking about with too much crust.

Completely disproportionate. Don’t get me wrong.  I will still eat every last piece.  And I learned a lot from this little guy.  Mostly crust-related, but let’s not forget that nefarious initial layer of tomato sauce messing with the crust’s flow.

Typically, I would make thin crust pizza, but this pizza will definitely make regular appearances on those Meatless Mondays when I need an extra indulgence.

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One thought on “Meatless Monday

  1. Pingback: Deep Dish Pizza Updated – Almost There – *bonus* Coca-cola Cupcakes | CookSmarts

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