Archive for the ‘Pizza’ Category
Bridgford Thick Sliced Pepperoni was on sale this week, and I try and stock up when those little delightful discs of processed pork are discounted.
Bridgford started about 80 years ago in Southern California; its still a family business and headquartered in Anaheim. They were primarily in the bread dough for consumers business (dough, heat and serve) until diversifying through the acquisition of a meat snack plant in Chicago. In addition to those two facilities, the company has plants in Dallas and North Carolina.
In addition to the pepperoni, the meat portion of the company makes jerky, beef sticks, and salami. Products are available nationwide.
But back to the subject. I’m always sampling pepperoni, as I make pizza at home often. I look at the ingredients, flavor, and texture. I most want to avoid pepperoni that cups and chars on top of a pie, tho some people find that a positive attribute.
At our house, the flavor has to be raw, as Mrs. Burgerdogboy prefers her pepperoni right out of the package as a snack – she doesn’t go for it “cooked.”
We like this one for the ingredients: pork, beef, salt, paprika and just the usual sodium based preservatives. No corn syrup, powdered milk or other fillers. Plus it’s got a little “kick.”
It’s made in the Chicago plant, pictured below, which is just a few blocks west of the loop, on Green, right below the Green/Pink lines.
Buy recommendation: Hell, yes!
Bridgford Thick Sliced Pepperoni
Imported from Italy from a company that for the last hundred years has focused on processing tomato products and only tomato products, you can’t get much more straightforward than these ingredients: tomatoes (99%), salt, basil, oregano, onion.
Mutti is located in Parma. In addition to pizza sauce, they make peeled tomatoes, puree, pulp and concentrate.
I have no earthly idea how they get their sauce this thick, no matter how long I cook tomatoes down, the result is usually somewhat watery.
In any regards, this is the real deal for pizza sauce. You can buy it at Italian / Euro food shops in the US, or order online at Amazon.
Why is it European food companies make products superior to those in the US? Tighter regulations? Looser? Small batches? Puzzlement.
Mutti Pizza Sauce
Orv’s Pizza was originally from Kaukauna, WI, and may still be produced there, but it’s now under the ownership of Minneapolis pizza company Bernatellos, that also makes and sells Roma and Brew Pub brands.
I wonder if Kaukauna Cheese is still made in Kaukauna? Hold on. OK, seems like its still made nearby, but now owned by a cheese brand collecting company from Chicago. (BTW, cheese company, I see you also hold Merkt’s, which I prefer, especially for burgers.
Wow, talk about careening wildly off track!
This Orv’s “Tasty Toppings” Sausage & Pepperoni Think Crust weighs in at a hair over one pound, and they were on sale today at 2 $8.00. That’s about the right price-point for the weight. I’m having a hard time seeing any quantity of sausage, and they may have missed a few spots with the “Real Cheese,” (as is noted on the front of the package.
BTW, before I tell you what I thought of the experience, I give the company props for the ‘real’ ingredients. Sausage is pork and seasonings, pepperoni is pork, beef, and seasonings, and tomato sauce is just….tomato sauce. So they got that going for them.
The pepperoni slice was paper thin. Say have you seen Jack Link’s is making thick “crinkle cut” pepperoni? Ain’t that interesting? Saw it at that store that John Boy and Mary Ellen started….you know, the Waltons? Right.
So how is Orv’s pizza? The thin crust is crispy, the tomato sauces leans towards being more sweet than savory and I think they shouldn’t be so stingy with the cheese. I’d say this pizza belongs at the top end of the budget lines like Totino’s, Jeno’s, and no-name brands, but even at this sale price, is pretty spendy for that category. I tried the parent company’s premium pie, Bellatoria Ultra Thin Sausage Italia, about six months ago, and it was pretty ok.
425 at 10-12 minutes brought the result shown below.
Orv’s Pizza Review
Well known for a few things, including the American Birkebinder cross country ski race, annual world lumberjack contests, and a nearby former hide out of Al Capone, the ville of Hayward, Wisconsin is nestled among pines and birches on rolling hills in Northwestern Wisconsin. Numerous lakes dot the landscape and it’s a regular fisherman’s paradise.
Trail’s End Resort is on nearby Lake Couderay, has cabins and boats for rent, camp sites and a nice lodge bar (“Michelle’s”) that features live music, (like Todd Eckart) that serves lunch and dinner daily with an emphasis on house made items from local ingredients.
Entrees enjoyed included the rib dinner and a thin crust bacon-topped pizza. Both got raves. The ribs are massaged with a house-made rub before being slow-smoked and finished on the grill; many of the meats served at Trails End (including the bacon) are from the provider 6th Street Market, in nearby Ashland, WI, who have been cranking out specialty meats and sausages for 25 years.
Here’s their full menu.
Trails End Resort
The “full name” of the product is Good & Delish Rising Crust Extra Thick Pepperoni frozen pizza. Good & Delish is one of Walgreen’s in-house brands for food products, the other is Nice! Not sure why they need two brands, as there doesn’t seem to be any segment specific reason for one or the other.
Seldom is the day I even stop at a Walgreen’s, I just think they are too spendy. But I stopped today simply because “it was there,” I s needed one or two things, and on short trips, I hate to make multiple stops. Getting lazy, I guess.
I have been on the hunt for a new brand of frozen pizza, Walgreens probably wouldn’t have it, but I figured I’d peek anyway, and sho nuff, no soap. But they did have their house brand pies at $4.99 for 29 ounces, and that’s a pretty good value, so I figured “what they hey”, and brought one home. I have reviewed other Walgreen’s products before, notably their frozen cheeseburger.
Never been a fan of rising crust pizzas, but when you think about it, it’s quite an achievement, isn’t it? The Walgreen’s pie was a straight forward affair, 20 minutes at 400; the ingredients were typical, but the pepperoni was “pork, beef, and chicken,” a formulation I try and stay away from. But I was committed now.
The box has the “Real Cheese” (which indicates the topping is a bon afide dairy product)emblem on it, and a Federal Inspection seal, but without the customary “establishment number,” so I can’t tell you who makes these pizzas for Walgreens.
Upon taking it from the oven, the first thing I noticed was some “shiny pools” on top of the pie, which surprised me, since the pepperoni had the combination ingredients. Pure pork or pure beef or both I would have thought had a higher content of fat.
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing the best US made frozen pizza I have ever consumed, for me, this pie is about a six. All of the ingredients are VERY mild in flavor, the “Boboli-like” crust is good, crispy and chewy at the same time, and the pepperoni, had some heft to it, due to its thickness.
Would I buy it again? If the circumstances were right, probably.
Good & Delish Frozen Pizza Review
Think I told this story once – the first time I ever went to the Green Mill, it was a divey little bar on a side street in St. Paul, MN. That was….let’s see….nearly forty years ago. A colleague of mine at KSTP, Suzy Applebaum, said we should go for lunch, and we did..even tho back in those days, the place being busy and all, and nearly an hour to cook a pizza, well, it was a long lunch. No matter. Suzy was terribly charming company. I should have spent more time with her.
It was one of those places that my mom liked, when I snuck her away from her society snob ladies on occasion just to have her enjoy offbeat places. She did like the Green Mill, and some years later (10?) suggested we hold my wedding rehearsal dinner at one. So we did. Could never say no to mom.
Now approaching thirty locations throughout the Midwest, the Green Mill has grown and changed, just like we all do, and was starting to show its age, just like we all do. So they embarked on a little remodeling program, made it more “bar-ey” and less “restaurant-y”, added more TVs, dumped some of the old fixtures, and amped up the menu, with a host of new dishes, including beef and Minnesota’s favorite – walleye.
Wings come in a variety of flavors, and bone-in or bone-out. Accompaniment sauces are made in house. In fact their menu says many of their food items are now made fresh daily from fresh ingredients. Nice.
Green Mill Pizza
Timpano (Timballo) Recipe
In one of the best “foodie” movies ever made, The Big Night, Stanley Tucci and Tony Shaloub (“Monk”) try to save their failing restaurant by putting on the feast of all feasts to impress Louis Prima, who they have heard is coming to visit. One good word from him, they figure, and all will be right with the world.
One of the dishes they create is the “timpano”, a traditional holiday feast in Italy, featuring pasta, meat, cheese and sauce baked in a pastry shell.
Here’s my version:
- 1 ball pizza dough
- 3 Italian sausages (cooked), thin sliced on a bias
- 36 meatballs (cooked) sliced in half
- 32 oz shredded Italian cheeses
- 1 c tomato sauce (toss the cooked pasta in it)
- 1 package of salami or prosciutto
- 10” glass or steel pan, preferably domed
- ½ cup melted butter
- ½ package dry ziti
- Fresh basil leaves (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. Cook the pasta and drain while you are waiting for the oven to preheat.
Roll out pizza dough, large enough to cover the bottom and sides of the pan, reserving enough to make a cap. Butter the dish and the outside of the dough.
Now you are going to layer the ingredients as if you were making a parfait, beginning and ending with the pasta. Pasta, meat, sauce, cheese. Repeat, ending with a layer of pasta. Place the dough cap on the timpano, cover, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 45 minutes.
Remove from oven, let cool in pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a plate. Let cool another ten minutes before slicing like pieces of cake. Drizzle additional tomato sauce and decorate slice with basil leaves.
Variants: Some recipes use a layer of quartered hard boiled eggs; others use layers of peas or other vegetables.
Shortcuts: I made everything from scratch here (except the pasta) but you don’t have to. You could purchase pre-cooked meatballs. You might also try the pre-cooked lasagna noodles in criss-crossed strips in the pan in lieu of the pizza dough for an interesting effect.
Spoiler alert: Luigi’s pizza is spectacular. If you’d prefer to stop reading now and head directly to the restaurant, that’s ok with me. Actually located closer to Rockford, IL than Chicago, the village of Huntley, once a bucolic rural town surrounded by dairy farms, has become a burgeoning suburb of the Windy City; so burgeoning that it will in the near future, get its own commuter train.
Before the farmers started selling out to development companies, long before the commuter train was even imagined, Luigi’s Pizza and Restaurant was serving the good folks of the village, every Tuesday through Sunday, with classic American style pizza and a full menu that includes pasta, sandwiches, and daily specials.
I was meeting some pals at this family owned and operated restaurant; walking up to it, I wondered if a 6PM time on a Friday was a bad idea, but there were a couple of tables still open. The restaurant has seating for – perhaps thirty, with room for a few more at the bar.
The table was attended to by one of the owner’s daughters, and she was both affable and diligent in her work. The food came out as ordered, and in the right order, with only the pizza taking a bit of time, maybe 25 minutes.
I could find no fault with the pizza as my personal tastes go. Cracker crisp crust, tangy tomato sauce, really, really excellent cheese in copious quantities, and a perfectly seasoned, hand pulled fennel laced Italian sausage.
This may be the best thin crust pizza in Chicago land, and is worth a drive to Huntley, even if you aren’t bound for the town’s annual Turkey Testicle Festival! The full menu is in our menu section.
Luigis Pizza Review
This particular location, in the far Northwestern suburb of Carpentersville, is located in a small strip mall, set well back from the nearby main drag (Illinois 25), and you’re not likely to see it if you’re not looking for it, or unless you’re a regular. There are two sides to the business, a full boisterous bar with seating and service on the right, and a sedate, vinyl-table clothed restaurant on the left.
Judging from mentions of the restaurant on other sites, this place has been here at least 25 years. The restaurant does a booming take out and delivery business, with a very complete menu of dinners, sandwiches, pizza, and nightly specials. On a Thursday nite, at the dinner hour, the bar was packed and the dining room deserted. Guess which I opted for?
Meals are served complete – with a complimentary bread basket, soup or salad. The Thursday special was fried chicken, four good sized pieces on the plate, with a choice of fries, smash or baked. The salad was ample, the soup Minestrone.
The thin crust pizza is priced 10-20 % less than other independents in the area, which surprised me, because Barone’s really piles on the cheese (the equivalent of double at other pie shops), and used a hand-pulled, flavorful, Italian sausage in good sized pieces. The crust is typical of “Chicago thin,” not cracker-like, but crispy and flaky at the same time. Sauce was flavorful without being overbearing. I like sliced green olives on my pizzas on occasion, and it seems like Barone’s uses my favorite kind, a “Sicilian style.”
Service was perfunctory. The menu states to allow 25 minutes for pizza, so there’s been no oven update in that kitchen in the past few decades. But that’s ok. It was worth waiting for, and if I lived in the Chicago ‘burbs, this would be my new go to place.
And my always “ultimate test” of how is it the next morning, cold? As Mr. Burns would say, “Excellent.”
Barones Restaurant and Pizza Review
The personal pizza for about a buck. Inexpensive kid’s lunch of snack, or add a salad, and you have about a six dollar dinner for a family of four.
Here’s the key. Shop at Dollar Tree. I bought four ingredients, crusts, sauce, cheese and pepperoni, for a total of $4.00.
I used one crust (they come in two packs) .50 (cents)
1/4 of the cheese .25
4 slices of pepperoni .20
1/10 of the sauce .10
Yes, I put the pepp on top of the cheese this time, in case the spouse wanted to try a slice, she has a thing against cooked pepperoni. (Yeah, I don’t get it either).
The instructions call for 7 minutes at 450, and that worked out perfect. More good news? No clean up! The crusts are sturdy enough to go right on the oven shelf.