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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Uncle Tykie’s Prairie Fire Grill and Pizzeria (Chicago Preview)

Uncle Tykie’s Prairie Fire Grill & Pizzeria
213 N. Main Street (GoogleMaps)
Athens, IL 62613

Neil from the pizza club has found a vehicle to sell his years –in-the-making pie recipe (note: the only problem being that it is located 191 miles south of Chicago in Athens, IL.) For this CPC meeting we met at Neil’s apartment in Old Town for a facsimile of the pizzas soon to be served in Athens. As the commercial scaling of the pizzas may result in a slightly different preparation method, this review will focus strictly on the preview pies served to the CPC.

The hand-stretched, irregularly shaped crust is transferred from a cornmeal dusted peel and cooked directly on a stone. Much like the recently previewed Pizzeria Serio, these pizzas don’t fit squarely into any one of the traditional styles. The pizzas served were a hybrid of New York, Neapolitan with perhaps even a bit of New Haven style thrown in. The thin crust has a crisp, substantial base with slight bit of chew between the actual crust bottom and the toppings. The edge of the pie had a firm outer rim with a soft, airy inside.

As mentioned, these are not the actual pizzas served at Uncle Tykie’s in Athens so it is worth pointing out the similarities between the two. The dough and sauce recipe are the same, as is the asiago and pecorino romano hard cheese combination. This evening Neil prepared the following five pizzas for the CPC.

  • Margherita – garlic, basil, fresh mozzarella, asiago, pecorino romano and tomato sauce
  • Baseline Special – sausage, garlic, basil, fresh mozzarella, asiago, pecorino romano and tomato sauce
  • Chicken Doesn’t Belong on a Pizza? – roasted chicken, artichoke, garlic, fresh mozzarella, asiago, pecorino romano and tomato sauce
  • Pancetta – pancetta, onion, mushroom, fresh mozzarella, asiago, pecorino romano and tomato sauce
  • What’s Left – pancetta, onion, mushroom, red pepper, fresh mozzarella, asiago, pecorino romano and tomato sauce

Shuffling multiple pizzas out of a small non-pizza oven resulted in some inconsistencies in the finished product. This night the oven held up well for the first three pizzas, while numbers four and five suffered from a lack of crisp on the crust’s bottom, as the stone lost some of its temperature.

The pancetta was by far the stand-out topping of the night with a hearty amount of salty, fatty goodness. This was Neil’s first foray into using chicken as a pizza topping and although the texture was spot-on, the heavy poultry taste and lack of saltiness shows that he still needs some refining in the preparation. As his search for the perfect sausage continues, Bob Evans breakfast sausage was used as a substitute with surprisingly palatable results.

Viewing these pizzas as the proof of concept, they displayed Neil’s passion for pie as well as some serious potential for a future in the pizza business.

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