Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Imo's Pizza

2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dark corn syrup*
1/2 cup + 2 tbsps water
16 ounces whole tomatoes, diced into fine pieces
6 ounces tomato paste
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon crushed basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon thyme

cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup swiss cheese, shredded
1/2 cup provolone cheese , shredded
1 teaspoon liquid hickory liquid smoke

Italian Seasoning
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons basil
1 teaspoon thyme

To make the crust:  Mix all ingredients until thoroughly combined - dough will be very stiff (mine wasn't). Makes enough for two 12" pizza pies or one large pizza. The dough is ready to use "as is." There is no need to rise or kneed. Divide the dough in half, shape into a round ball and roll out paper thin. Sprinkle pizza pan(s) with a little cornmeal then stretch dough onto it to the edges.

After the crust, it's the sauce that begins the first real steps towards forming the total Imo's pizza experience. Imo's uses a tomato sauce mixture that has a sweet taste, but it's not so overly sweet to hide the rich tomato flavor or spices.

To make the sauce:  Combine sauce ingredients together and it's ready to use - do not precook the sauce! This makes enough sauce for about four (4) 12" pizza pies, so that should give you some idea of how much to use on each pizza (I used all of it on one large).

On top of the sweet sauce Imo's uses Provel Cheese, which is simply a blend of cheddar, Swiss and provolone cheeses with some liquid smoke flavoring. If you can't find Provel in your local market, it can be easily created as follows:

To make "Provel" cheese:  Toss all cheeses and liquid smoke until cheeses and smoke flavoring are completely incorporated. Typically, it's enough cheese for two (2) 12" pizza pies, but if you like extra-cheese you'll want to make more (I used it all on the one large pizza).

Add any additional toppings that you like.  Authentic Imo's pizza toppings include: Extra-Cheese, Onion, Green Pepper, Sausage, Hamburger, Pepperoni, Anchovy, Bacon, Black Olive, Mushroom, Canadian Bacon, Jalapenos, Pineapple, Banana Peppers, and Tomatoes.

In a professional pizza oven the meat toppings (hamburger, sausage, bacon, etc.) can usually be put on raw, but at home you'll want to fully precook the meat before assembling the pizza.

Now that you have the correct style crust, sweet sauce, smoky cheese, and generous toppings, it's ready to be lightly sprinkled with some Italian seasonings.

Italian seasoning:  Combine all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and blend well. Sprinkle evenly over entire pizza.

While in the restaurant the pizza is baked in a pizza pan, at home you'll have the best results using a pizza stone and an oven temperature around 450 degrees. If you don't have a pizza stone, use the thinnest baking sheet you have and the lowest oven rack position. The pizza is done when the underside of the crust is a dark golden brown, and the cheese has a slight golden tint to it. Underbaking the crust will result in a limp crust, while overbaking will result in a hard, tough, burnt-tasting crust.  Getting the right baking time to produce a crisp crust will require a bit of experimentation. The amount and type of toppings you use will also affect the total baking time. A rule-of-thumb is to check the pizza after about 10-12 minutes and adjust baking time from there accordingly.

And, as a final touch to truly replicate Imo's Pizza at home, cut the pizza into tile-like squares instead of the traditional triangle slices.

*If you don't want to use dark corn syrup, you can make your own by combining 1 cup packed brown sugar and 1/4 cup water. Then measure out your two teaspoons for the crust.

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