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49ers vs. Bears: The results of my deep investigation on the enemy

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It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it. Tell my story.

I'm basically right behind these guys.
I'm basically right behind these guys.
David Banks

Earlier this week, I came up with the idea of going into deep cover and doing some real, true investigating of the upcoming San Francisco 49ers opponents. It's going to be a tough job ... I'm sacrificing a lot for you good folks, but somebody has to do it.

I've decided the best way to figure out the Chicago Bears, the Arizona Cardinals and the rest of the teams on the schedule this season isn't to examine Jay Cutler's throwing tendencies or Tyrann Mathieu's range in the secondary. I've decided to take one for the team and investigate the very thing which provides these players with energy, with sustenance.

The food.

Yes, I've decided to go underground and uncover the very foundation that fuels these teams. Each week, I'll be getting my wonderful fiancee, Tabitha, who happens to be a chef at a fine restaurant in Modesto, CA by the name of Galletto Ristorante, to prepare a dish based on the local cuisine.

Now, here's a few things of note: for one, I'll be basing my decision on what to eat entirely on feedback I get on Twitter and through a little Google-fu. If I make a mistake, oh well, it was probably delicious. Also, I don't have a great camera so you guys will have to bear with me on that one. Whatever the case, I'd like to get right to my investigation of the Chicago Bears.

Da Bears

When I thought about what I wanted to do for Chicago ... the decision was instant. It's been awhile since I've had some homemade pizza, and Tabii happens to make a good one. So I decided on a Chicago-style deep dish pizza, of course. I took to Twitter to ask for some advice on what might be the "definitive" toppings for a pizza like that, and the responses I got were varied.

Among the constants in the replies: pepperoni, sausage and green peppers. That sounds fine to me, so we went with that and added mushrooms to the mix because damn do I love me some mushrooms. But why listen to what I have to say, how about we let Tabii speak for herself? Everything below here, until I say otherwise, is Tabii talking:

So as per the request I made a Chicago style deep dish pizza. I used a recipe designed for baking it in a 12-inch cast iron pan (I used the Lodge brand, but mine is well seasoned). The recipe for the dough was this -

3/4 C warm water
1 package of active dry yeast (I use Fleischmann's)
2 C flour (I actually added 1/2 C extra, sometimes you'll need to add extra or even less depending on the humidity)
1/3 C olive oil
1 1/2 TBS Italian seasoning (you can use fresh herbs if you want - oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme...)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 C parmesan cheese

First I let the yeast activate in the warm water. I used my stand mixer for this, with the dough hook attachment. Don't use hot hot water... if it's too hot, it'll kill the yeast, and your dough won't rise. Then I added the flour, olive oil, seasonings and parmesan to the yeast mixture. I beat the mixture on "stir" for a minute to combine, then switched it up to medium speed and kneaded the dough until it was smooth. Took about three minutes. When the dough was smooth I transferred it to a greased bowl (more olive oil) and let it rise for about an hour in a warm spot.

To make the sauce:

I actually used a sauce that was different from the one I am about to list, but I had a lot of red sauce left over from making chicken parmesan in the freezer. A more ideal sauce would be the following.

1 14oz can of tomato sauce
1 bunch fresh basil
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp olive oil 
Salt to taste

Saute the minced garlic in the olive oil in a saucepan for less than a minute. You want it fragrant, not golden or fried - burnt garlic is gross. Add the tomato sauce and salt to taste (I like more salt than most people... and tomatoes need quite a bit of salt). I would chiffonade my basil and add it when the sauce comes to a simmer, but if your knife skills leave something to be desired you can just tear the leaves. You can use more or less basil depending on what you like.

After the dough has risen for an hour, it should be about doubled. Punch it down and let it rest for another five minutes while you pre-heat the oven to 450 and butter your cast iron pan all over on the inside. Then gently spread the dough out into the pan and up the sides (mine was a bit fragile, so I had to use the flats of my hands to do this - fingertips will puncture the dough). Parbake the crust for ten minutes. After that, use about half a cup of sauce (or more, or less depending on your tastes) and spread it out, leaving a little bit bare around the edges.

For toppings I used about four slices of provolone on the bottom, then I topped it with italian sausage, mushrooms, green bell pepper and pepperoni. Then I added shredded cheese on top, as much as you may want. I also added some more parmesan on top for fun.

I finished the pizza in the oven for 20 minutes, until the cheese was golden. If you cooked the pizza long enough it should lift right out of the cast iron pan without any issues. NOW, I am aware this pizza is not traditional deep dish. It's an "inspired by" kind of pizza. If anyone has any better crust recipes or more "traditional" toppings and sauces, leave them in the comments. Politely!

Back to James

Well I hope all of you understood that voodoo. I sure don't. What I do understand is that it was delicious and I did take a few pictures -- again with the caveat that this pizza didn't turn out as "deep" as hoped and of course, that we're using poor cameras. This is the result below:

Pizza 01

Pizza 02

It sure was delicious. I mean ... tough. It was a tough job.

SUMMARY!

I paired this pizza with a Sierra Nevada Flipside IPA. When I say "paired" I mean "this was the beer in my fridge last night." As far as what this mean's for Sunday's game, here's what I found: eating this pizza made me full and fast. I was sluggish for the rest of the night, gorged on deliciously baked cheese and ample pepperoni. If I had to play football on that stomach, I probably would have been particularly bad at it. This probably means a win for the 49ers.

Coming Up

I will ask some more opinions on the subject of Arizona, but I believe I will be conducting my investigations into the Cardinals with the aid of either Sonoran Hot Dogs or Pan-Fried Chimichangas.