Aptly named Coalfire uses 100 percent coal pizza oven
May 10, 2013 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- There are plenty of pizza options in Chicago, but you could count on one hand the number of places using coal to cook their pies. At the aptly-named Coalfire in West Town, 100 percent coal means a much hotter oven.
"The wood retains a bit of moisture and the type of heat you get from coal cooks the pizzas much quicker, so you have a crispier crust while maintaining a nice, soft inside," said William Harrison, one of the cooks at Coalfire.
But the coal isn't the only thing worth shouting about. More recently, the owners started buying cured meat, salami and sausage from Publican Quality Meats, greatly increasing the pizza quality. That's not pepperoni, but rather, nduja.
"The nduja is a young Calabrian salami, it's made with all pork belly and it has Calabrian chiles, it's ground three times so it has a finer consistency," said Harrison.
It's also a young salami, aged only two weeks.
"And what that does, it gives it a very soft texture so that when you put it on the pizza, when it cooks, it melts into the pizza - the fat renders out - gives it a very rich spice," he said.
Harrison works on another pizza - again, starting with fresh mozzarella and slightly thick tomato sauce. He bakes it for about two minutes, lifts it up to the ceiling of the oven dome then pulls it out. It's at this point he adds PQM's capicola.
"It's a cured pork shoulder; it's cured for a week and then it's smoked and it is sous vide (vacuum) cooked, that way all of the tissues are broken down and tenderized," he said.
After the capicola, a few handfuls of kalamata olives and fresh basil. Harrison used to work at the PQM butcher shop, but now that he's slinging pizzas, he says the high-quality beef and pork just seem to be made for them.
"They just work well on the pizza. It's local, it's all made organic with sustainable ingredients and it's just a matter of sharing the love within the community of Chicago," said Harrison.
Harrison said they're also experimenting with other specialty items like guanciale - that's pork jowel - or spanish chorizo sausage.
1321 W. Grand Ave.
Publican Quality Meats
825 W. Fulton Market
restaurants, steve dolinsky
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