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…
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.
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.