Deep cuts

April 26, 2006|By RENEE ENNA | RENEE ENNA,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Pizza wheels are wonderful tools, ready to slice up a pie, pronto. Chicago deep-dish and stuffed pies, with their daunting crusts and super-thick fillings, present a tall challenge.

In fact, that's what separated the winners from the also-rans in our testing of nine pizza cutters. All the brands performed efficiently on thin-crust pizzas, so if that's all you eat and make, you'll be fine with a $5-or-less cutter. The deep-dish pizzas were another story.

We wanted a cutter that could make slices without too much effort, cutting but not crushing that thick outer crust, and with wheels big enough to navigate the fillings. The smaller wheels got gobbled up by the pizza. In some cases the safety guards were so close to the wheels that cheese and sauce collected on the base - a mess for sure, but also robbing our servings of those tasty ingredients. Finally, we sought a comfortable grip as we rolled our way through the pizza pies.

We also tested them with other foods in mind. Pizza wheels are great for slicing the sticky and/or gooey goodness of casseroles, lasagna, fudge and brownies.

Renee Enna writes for the Chicago Tribune.

Deep-Dish Crusts

2 packages regular or active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees)

6 cups Original Bisquick mix

1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil

Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl. Stir in Bisquick and oil; beat vigorously 20 strokes. Turn dough onto surface generously dusted with Bisquick; gently roll in Bisquick to coat. Knead about 60 times or until smooth and no longer sticky. Let dough rest 5 minutes. (At this point, dough can be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.)

Divide dough in half. Pat each half of dough in bottom and up sides of 2 jellyroll pans, 15 1/2 inches by 10 1/2 inches, greased with olive oil if desired. Or divide dough into fourths and press in bottom and up sides of four 9-inch round pans, greased with olive oil if desired.

Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza

Serves 12

Deep-Dish Crusts (see recipe)

8 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (32 ounces, divided use)

1 pound bulk Italian sausage, cooked and drained, or 2 packages (3 1/2 ounces each) sliced pepperoni

2 to 3 cups vegetable toppings, such as sliced fresh mushrooms, chopped green bell pepper, chopped onion and sliced ripe olives

2 cans (28 ounces each) Italian-style pear-shaped tomatoes, chopped and well-drained

2 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves or 2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves or Italian seasoning

1/2 to 1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Move oven racks to lowest positions. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Make Deep-Dish Crusts. Reserve 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese over crusts. Top with sausage, vegetables and tomatoes. Sprinkle with oregano and parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with the reserved mozzarella cheese.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes (switching top and bottom pans halfway through bake time) or until crust is brown and cheese is melted and bubbly. Cut pizza immediately into pieces. Let pizza stand a few minutes for easier serving.

Adapted from bettycrocker.com, which provided the analysis

Per serving: 615 calories, 33 grams protein, 34 grams fat, 14 grams saturated fat, 46 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 65 milligrams cholesterol, 1,760 milligrams sodium

THE WINNER

OXO Good Grips' 4-inch Pizza Wheel for Non-Stick Pans: This polycarbonate plastic cutter sliced through the deep-dish pizza beautifully. Its sturdy wheel is safe for nonstick pans and has a finger-friendly edge. It's dishwashersafe, too. Available at Crate and Barrel, $11.

SECOND PLACE

KitchenAid Large Pizza Wheel: This stainless-steel 4-inch cutter has tremendous heft and a well-situated finger guard. It also is dishwasher-safe. Available at amazon.com, $15.

THIRD PLACE

Cuisipro Pizza Cutter: This wheel just barely rises above a deep-dish pizza; still, its ergonomically designed handle feels terrific. It has a nonstick coated metal wheel. Available at amazon.com, $15.

OTHERS TESTED (in alphabetical order)

Chefmate Pizza Cutter (Target, $4)

Cuisinart Pizza Cutter (Bed Bath & Beyond, $13) Global Decor Stainless-Steel Combination Pizza Cutter and Server (amazon.com, $10)

Good Cook Pizza Cutter (Jewel-Osco, $3)

Rock and Roll Pizza Cutter (amazon.com, $5)

Zyliss Palm-Held Pizza Slicer (amazon.com, $10)

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