Nice Tomaters! – Rant #5 – Pizza Research Continues

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Flavor of canned tomatoes varies from brand to brand and can often have differing amounts of freshness, sweetness, saltiness, acidity and other characteristics. Everyone has a preference and some tomatoes can be superior to others depending on the dish they’re being used in. For Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza, my fellow pizza-holics over at pizzamaking.com are big fans of a canned tomato brand called ‘6-in-1’ from a company called Escalon. I was lucky to be able to find a can of ‘6-in-1’ tomatoes at my local Dominick’s grocery. Although I loved the flavor of these tomatoes on deep dish pizza, I thought the texture of these ‘ground’ tomatoes was a little bit too ground up for my purposes. Tomatoes that you’d find on a Lou Malnati’s or Pizzeria Uno/Due deep dish pie are a little more chunky, so I decided to search for a ‘diced’ tomato to suit my needs. Escalon does make a diced version of their tomatoes, but they were not available locally, so I decided to test a few locally available brands. Muir Glen Organic tomatoes are quite good, come in a wide variety of styles (ground, whole, diced, with basil, etc.) and were available just about everywhere . If I didn’t have any other options, I would gladly use Muir Glen any day on a deep dish pizza. Long before my deep dish insanity took hold, I had become fond of a brand of tomatoes called Dei Fratelli , which I prefer to use when making my ‘world famous’ Cocoa Chili (recipe on my website) . I had been very impressed with the consistent flavor and texture of their ‘crushed’ tomatoes for use in my chili, and thought their ‘petite diced’ would work well in my pizza experiments.  I had a lot of success combining Muir Glen and Dei Fratelli tomatoes to get a really great flavor and texture, using a combination of diced and crushed/ground tomatoes.
Then I found…
San Marzano (grown domestically in the U.S.A.; distributed by a company in New Jersey)
Don’t let the non-Italian origin of these tomatoes keep you from trying these incredible diced tomatoes.
I found these at my local Treasure Island grocery, so I don’t know if they’re widely available, but if you can find them, they are worth every penny. Be aware that these are San Marzano style of tomato, and don’t originate in San Marzano, which some tomato purists claim are better.  So far, I’ve only tried one can of tomatoes that were actually from San Marzano, Italy, and it didn’t hold a candle to these.
Even though I think I’ve hit the jackpot with these white label San Marzano tomatoes, I haven’t stopped looking for good-quality canned tomatoes. Every once in a while, I pick up an intriguing can or two that I haven’t tried yet; the ones from Italy are worth a look, and I hear good things about the Carmelina brand that I just picked up. The Dell’ Alpe brand tomatoes are also untested, so I’ll be happy to update this blog post when I do.
UPDATE:
Muir Glen has many varieties of canned tomatoes with different characteristics.
Lately, my favorite canned tomatoes to use for deep dish is the
Muir Glen brand CRUSHED TOMATOES WITH BASIL.
The consistency is mostly crushed with a few chunky bits in it and has the perfect texture and a bright sweet flavor for deep dish.
Often, I recommend that people drain their canned tomatoes a bit before using them in a pizza, but the Muir Glen Crushed w/ Basil can pretty much be used straight out of the can.
Just make sure you don’t use too much on your pizza.
For a 12″ deep dish, start with about 12-14 oz ladled in the middle and work your way outward until the pizza is completely covered. Add a little more if necessary, but rarely will you ever need to use a whole 28 oz can.
Followup on the Carmelina brand: I’m not a tomato expert, so your experience may differ from mine, but I tasted these right out of the can and they seemed dull, and not very sweet. I don’t know what it is about tomatoes from San Marzano Italy, but maybe it loses something on that plane or boat ride over to the states. I have yet to taste canned tomatoes from Italy that have tasted great right out of the can like the several brands I like which are grown in California.
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Posted in chicago pizza, chicago style, chicago style deep dish pizza, deep dish, deep dish pizza, ingredients, pizza, rant, real deep dish pizza, sauce, tomato, tomatoes

8 comments on “Nice Tomaters! – Rant #5 – Pizza Research Continues
  1. What about using fresh tomatoes? I’ve got beautiful, delicious purple cherry tomatoes and crisper yellow baby bell tomatoes ( which I’d probably chop coarsely). I want my dd very tomato rich, studded with mozzerella, maybe a few slivered mushrooms, fresh basil and oregano on top when pulled from the oven. Suggestions?

    • realdeep realdeep says:

      Hi, Howard. You can certainly use fresh tomatoes. Those purple cherry tomatoes (I’ve recently had some “black cherry” tomatoes, which have a purple color – are those the same?) are a good idea for topping a deep dish – I bet you could split them and they’d blister up nicely. For any tomatoes you add in addition to sauce, I would suggest making efforts to reduce the moisture in them a bit to keep your pizzas from turning into soup. Try slicing and lightly salting the tomato slices, then placing them on a few layers of paper towel for a few minutes to suck out some of the water those tomatoes are holding onto.

      I usually keep my deep dish sauce simple and I prefer to use canned, because it’s less work than blanching, ice-water shocking, and peeling.
      I like crushed tomatoes, you can certainly buy the whole ones and hand-crush them, and I add dried basil (or fresh if I have it), and adjust with sugar or honey if the tomatoes don’t taste sweet enough.
      Mushrooms are best added half-way thru baking or putting them in or under your sauce to protect them from burning.
      Please read the other articles on the site for additional tips, and thanks for visiting RealDeepDish.com! 🙂

  2. Mr Mike says:

    Chefs rave about authentic San Marzano tomatoes. I am sure they have their place, but I totally agree that every time I tried these pricey tomatoes for pizza, they fell short in taste. They lack the more natural citric acid and sweetness of Muir Glen, 6 in 1 , 7/11’s etc from California tomatoes imo. I found San Marzano bland and somewhat bitter to the bite.

  3. RICK says:

    DEAR REALDEEPDISH,
    I FOUND YOUR WEBSITE FROM PIZZAMAKING.COM.

    HAVING PERFECTED THE NY STYLE PIZZA THAT BLOWS AWAY ANYTHING HERE IN BALTIMORE (THE GLUTENBOY’S RECIPE ON SAID WEBSITE) I DECIDED AT MY BROTHER’S PROMPTING TO MOVE ON. HE WANTED TO KNOW WHAT I COULD DO NEXT. HE’S A VETERAN CHEF BUT NO BAKER.

    I WAS OVERWHELMED WITH ALL THE VARIOUS OPINIONS AND RECIPES ON PIZZA MAKING.COM FOR A REAL DEEP DISH PIZZA.
    i HAVE NEVER HAD ONE. EVER.

    I SAW IT ON TV, ETC. BUT NOT MUCH INTERESTED SINCE I GREW UP ON NY STYLE PIZZA,
    I SAW YOUR COMMENTS AND YOUR LINK ON PIZZA MAKING .COM AND WENT TO YOUR SITE. I AM SO GLAD I DID.

    LAST NIGHT I USED YOUR RECIPE (YOUR RECIPE PDF) AND IT TURNED OUT PERFECTLY. HOLY SHMITT,,,, SPUTTER, SCHMITT!!

    CAN YOU SAY “A WHOLE NEW PIZZA WORLD?”

    I CAN.

    THIS STUFF WAS LIKE, DARE I SAY ,”THE CRACK ROCK OF PIZZA” (I DON’T DO DRUGS, ONLY HEARD THE EXPRESSION.)

    I USED YOUR EXACT RECIPE FOR A 10″ PAN. I USED A WELL SEASONED CAST IRON SKILLET SINCE I DON’T HAVE ANY DEEP DISH PANS.

    I DIDN’T PUT MY STONE UNDER IT SINCE I THOUGHT IT MIGHT ABSORB HEAT FROM THE CAST IRON SKILLET. I USED A BAKING PAN OVERTOP (COOKIE SHEET PAN) LIKE YOU SUGGESTED TO REFLECT HEAT BACK TO THE SKILLET.

    35 MINUTES AND I HAD SOME CRAZY, CRAZY GOOD PIZZA. HOLY F___ING MEWOW COW!

    SINCE I WAS JUST A LITTLE SHORT ON MOZZARELLA SLICES, I USED SOME PROVOLONE SLICES TO FINISH SEALING UP THE BOTTOM.

    I MADE THE ITALIAN SAUSAGE PATTY AS YOU DESCRIBED.

    I USED FURMOSA BRAND CRUSHED TOMATOES (PRE SPICED ,WHICH I NEVER USED BEFORE BUT THOUGHT THAT WITH NEW PIZZA COMES NEW CHOICES.) I WAS NOT WRONG,

    I DID NOT USE ANY SEMOLINA FLOUR IN THIS VERY FIRST VENTURE (AROUND HERE IT IS EXPENSIVE AND IF I WAS GOING TO BLOW IT, I WANTED TO KEEP IT ON THE CHEAP.)
    NEXT TIME, I WILL USE IT AS YOU DESCRIBE IN YOUR RECIPE.

    BTW I HAVE READ ALL YOUR RANTS. NICE.
    WOW, DO PEOPLE ACTUALLY USE CORN MEAL IN A PIZZA RECIPE? YIKES.

    AS A REGULAR WORKING GUY WITH KIDS, IT WAS NICE TO FIND A RECIPE THAT WORKED THE VERY FIRST TIME WITH NO BS INVOLVED.

    I SPENT A YEAR JUST TRYING TO NAIL DOWN A TRUE NY STYLE PIZZA EVEN WITH PIZZAMAKING.COM’S HELP. TOO MUCH INFO THERE SOMETIMES TO FILTER THROUGH.

    IT’S NICE TO JUST GET SOME SOLID INFO AND ACT ON IT AND BE SUCCESFUL.

    AS I SAID I NEVER HAD A CHICAGO STYLE DEEP DISH PIZZA. I LOVE IT. MY BOYS ARE GOING TO FREAK ON IT NEXT TIME I SEE THEM. NO DOUBT.

    BEST REGARDS,
    RICK DECKER

  4. realdeep realdeep says:

    Tomatoes RULE! Yay Deep Dish!

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