PIZZA RANT 2.6 – The Cornmeal Rant
PIZZA RANT 2.6 – (rant #3 is coming soon, I swear!)
PAT “Pasquale” BRUNO! I’m CALLING YOU OUT!
I am by no means the first person to correct this misconception about Deep Dish Pizza dough, and I’m sure I won’t be the last:
re: CORNMEAL (or Corn Meal):
Traditional Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza…
DOES NOT HAVE CORNMEAL IN IT! Never did!
Why does Pat “Pasquale” Bruno, Chicago Sun-Times food critic and author (he has 2 books about pizza),
believe that cornmeal belongs in a recipe for deep dish pizza dough? Well, I haven’t asked him (and he’s welcome to post a reply), but my guess would be that he (or Jeff Smith – we’re not certain who came up with this idea first) may have incorrectly guessed that cornmeal was the source of one or two aspects of deep dish dough:
1) FLAVOR: Corn oil (along with other oils) is (or was) widely used in the dough recipe for some of the more popular Deep Dish pizza restaurants. (Lou Malnati’s/Pizzeria Uno). I’ve learned that some now use soybean or other oils.
2) COLOR: Gino’s East has an incredibly yellow colored crust; I’ve learned that this is actually created by a food-grade baking industry food coloring called Yolkoline (or possibly a combination of McCormick yellow dyes #5 & #6) aka Egg Shade.
The reason why I’m calling out Pat Bruno is because it seems like he insists on perpetuating this myth on the Food Network by appearing as an “impartial” judge, when it’s quite clear that he’s trying to hawk his books on Pizza.
I’ll concede this much – It is possible that after all these years Mr. Bruno does know the truth about the cornmeal and stubbornly continues to let this cornmeal myth grow to throw everyone off.
I’ll excuse Bobby Flay for using cornmeal. He’s from New York; he doesn’t know any better. He does make it more confusing to everyone by including cornmeal in his dough recipe on foodnetwork.com, and leaving out any instructions on when to add or use it (update – it seems that they’ve since updated the recipe – after many comment postings – to add the cornmeal into the bowl when adding the flour). We all know why Marc Malnati won’t correct Bobby Flay. He’s trying to win a pizza throwdown (and talking a lot of smack while doing it) and he’s got a mail-order deep dish pizza business and a chain of restaurants that need to keep making money. Why would he tell everyone on TV how to exactly duplicate his pizza dough?
If Pat Bruno knows that cornmeal should not be in there, and goodness knows he’s been covering the subject long enough, why does he not dispel the myth on the show?
IT TAKES YOU FIVE SECONDS TO CLEAR UP THIS MYTH FOR GOOD!
SAY IT LOUD! SAY IT PROUD!
DEEP DISH PIZZA DOES NOT HAVE CORN MEAL IN IT!
Bobby Flay hopefully knows the truth now. He should demand a rematch, and skip the broccoli robb this time… Silly New Yorker.
OK, so now we return to the subject – Cornmeal:
It’s not a true ingredient of traditional Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza. Don’t believe me? Ask the guys over at the Pizzamaking.com – Chicago Style Pizza Forum.
Also, there’s a definite possibility that thin crust pizza restaurants dusted their pizza peels with semolina (similar in texture to cornmeal) confusing modern bakers and forever linking pizza with cornmeal.
Can you use it?
It’s YOUR pizza; do what you want, but many people think cornmeal makes pizza dough taste gritty. Some like the extra corn flavor that cornmeal adds. Many use it in the bottom of their pizza pans to add an extra crunch on the bottom or to aid in deep pan removal.
I use it sometimes on a pizza peel to help get a thin crust pizza to slide off of the paddle and onto the pizza stone.
Apparently, using fennel seed in Italian sausage is also controversial for deep dish (though I often do when I make my own), but that’s another rant.
The Pizza Rants:
Rant 1 Rant 2 - The Deep Dish Pizza Conundrum Rant 2.5 - Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza SUCCESS! Rant 2.6 - The Cornmeal Rant Rant 3 - A Crusty Rant Rant 4 - Deep Dish or Rant Hard! Rant 5 - Nice Tomaters!