Why are Our pizzas so darn good?
Many years ago we used the slogan "The Crust is the Difference". This was the comment I heard most from my customers about why they loved to eat my pizza. There are several reasons for this. Long ago I found that using a high gluten (protein) flour is the best kind to use for Mr. Jim's Pizzas. Our hand stretched pizza dough flour is made from 100% spring wheat with about 14% protein. Although this flour is generally more expensive than other types of flour it helps my pizza to have the uniform large cell structure and gives the crisp outer layer its nutty flavor.
Another reason they're so good is that in the late 70's I discovered that the most important part of a Mr. Jim's Pizza is a proper bake. This means that you cook the pizza long enough and at a low enough temperature so the the entire crust develops its full cell structure. This starts with well risen dough. Our dough is made daily in our kitchens. It is allowed rise once in the bowl and then we cut it up and form it into portions for the pizzas and then it's allowed to rise again. Then it must be cooled for 12 hours to reach it's peak flavor and structure profile. Then we cook it much longer than the big guys and at a lower temperature. At Mr. Jim's my pizza has a fully developed cell structure even under the cheese and toppings.
Some pizza places keep the dough already stretched out in pizza pans in their coolers. This gets the crust and pan too cold. When they put it into a conveyor convection oven that is set to cook pizza made in a room temperature pan with dough that is warmed slightly by being handled this cold pizza does not cook. It can't cook through when its 30 degrees colder than what the oven is set for. This why you sometimes get a pizza from other places that has a gooey crust. When we prepare crusts in advance for busy periods they are never stored in a cooler and any extras are discarded. It is this careful attention to detail that you taste in the quality of our pizza.
We make our hand-stretched dough every day in our kitchens. It is made 12 hours before we use it and is thrown away if not used within 96 hours. one competitor's dough comes form their warehouse and isn't even used until it's much older than 12 hours. It sometimes gets so old that the dough gets spotted with darks spots which cause off flavors. They call these spots bran browning but the joke is there is no bran in their flour; or anyone else's white flour for that matter. Most of the other chains get there dough shipped in already made and some even use dough that has been frozen.
I recently saw a TV commercial where a competitor said that their dough was fresh just because it was never frozen. The joke is that it's made in off site commissaries. I have no idea how often it gets delivered into the stores. And I bet it's far more than 12 hours.
I have to be honest here. Our thin crusts are made for us by another company and they are shipped in to us completely baked and frozen. My staff and I spent a lot of time researching for many years before we settled on this exact crust. It has qualities that we couldn't replicate on our own kitchens. They're made with a lower protein flour and give the crust a flaky texture and buttery taste.
I didn't just stop at the crust. I also have researched formulating the perfect pizza sauce. You have heard a competitor talk about their "fresh" tomato sauce. Right off the vine. Well it turns out that all the tomatoes for domestic pizza sauce are picked in California during the months of August and September. And while they go right from the fields to the processor and into the cans or bags for this competitor; you might not eat it until the following August. If there was a really large tomato crop it could be even longer. It is called "fresh packed". This is in no way intended to say that it's bad, it's just that it's not exactly fresh. In fact, tomatoes have pectin which tends to absorb the moisture in the sauce; and can, over the course of many months, change the consistency of the sauce. This leads to it being mishandled in the stores and can vary the quality of the pizza. Also the flavor of the spices can degrade over time causing differences in the flavor of the pizza from one month to the next.
To avoid the consistency problem and prevent any off flavors from developing over many months of storage in hot or cold warehouses we have found a way to have the sauce made to our exact specifications as we use it. It is made for us by our good friends at Paradise Tomato each month, or more often, as we need it. It is made in a completely controlled environment where every aspect of the processing is carefully monitored. The same tomatoes are picked in California and processed right from the field. Only we have it processed to almost pure tomato solids. It is packed in huge "chubs" that are 5 foot cubes containing tomato so thick it is the consistency of clay. Then, when needed, they reconstitute it back into a thick sauce, add spices and pasteurize it. Then it's shipped in plastic bags which are much friendlier to the environment than old fashioned steel cans. We ship it as a thick paste to save our customers the freight cost of shipping a fully ready to use sauce. Once we get it ready to use in our own kitchens it is still very thick and has a high percentage of tomato solids and a very low Bostwick. (Bostwick refers to a measure of how thick sauces are by how long it takes for sauce the sauce run though an special scientific instrument. Here's a picture.
Of course, it wouldn't be a Mr. Jim's Pizza without 100% real mozzarella cheese. My cheese is made to my exact specifications in a state of the art manufacturing plant by my friend Jimmy Leprino. Through his exclusive patented manufacturing process he is able to control many aspects of the final cheese. This allows Mr. Jim's to have a completely unique cheese. Cheese is a living thing. It contains rennet which causes the milk to coagulate and then the curds are pressed into cheese. In the old days one would buy fresh cheese that was 14 to 21 days old. It was only in that short time window that the cheese was at it's peak flavor and texture performance level. If the cheese was too young or too old it didn't cook right. Most if the time this didn't matter but if for some reason I purchased a little too much or too little cheese the flavor and cooking characteristics would change. Sometimes the cheese would cook to a completely brown crust on the surface. This was totally unacceptable. The goal of selling exactly the same pizza at every Mr. Jim's every day would be impossible to achieve. Even what the cows eat could affect how the cheese tasted and performed. Then, over 20 years ago, I found Jimmy Leprino. Mr. Leprino and his research scientists invented a process that gets the cheese to its peak performance and is then quickly shredded and instantly frozen. This locks in the exact flavor and characteristics we want so that it doesn't matter when we receive and use the cheese. This process begins when the milk comes into the factory. First it is thoroughly tested to make sure there are no impurities. Then the fat is completely removed from the milk and added back in at the precise fat percentage we have determined will provide you the flavor and characteristics that you have grown to love. The milk is always 2.7% fat which is lower than whole milk and is considered part skim. Then it is made into cheese under strictly monitored conditions. It is instantly frozen at the exact moment it achieves perfection and then shipped to our stores where we thaw it for your pizza.
You may find when eating competitors' pizzas that after they begin to cool the cheese changes to a more gritty texture. My cheese still has a smooth texture even when cold. This is another example of the care and expertise that goes into providing you the best possible dining experience.
Many of you are concerned about trans fats. While I haven't found a cheese with no trans fats; ours only has .08g trans fat per 100g of cheese. In an entire large one topping pizza that's only .23g; about the weight of vitamin pill. Since there is much less than one gram of fat per slice government labeling laws would allow us to say 0g trans fats per serving. But that isn't exactly true.
Also, for those vegetarians who do eat dairy products, you'll be happy to know that we do not use animal rennet. And other than milk/ milk products there are no other ingredients of animal origin in our cheese.
Our Meat Toppings
I am very proud of the fact that we do not use any cereal fillers in our pepperoni, beef or Italian sausage. Many competitors use beef and pork toppings that are mixed with Textured Vegetable soy Protein, TVP. You may notice that they use the term beef sausage or pork sausage on their menus. It can also be called beef topping or pork topping. While soy protein may be good for you it is not really meat. I have seen toppings with as much as 30% TVP. This is the off flavor and rubbery texture you may sometimes notice when eating the "meat" sold by competitors. Our beef is virtually all meat. There is a very small amount of Hydrolyzed Vegetable soy Protein which allows the beef to stay formed into the chunks on the finished pizza. But it is not a substitute for beef. You can ask a competitor to read the label on the box their beef comes in to be sure. Of course, the addition of cereal fillers greatly reduces the price. The people who use this think that most customers can't tell the difference. And while you may not eat and say, "Ah-hah cereal fillers!", you will notice a difference even though you don't know exactly why.
My Italian sausage is real Italian sausage. There are federal labeling laws which require that you use 100% pork with no other products at all, other than spices, in order to use the term "Italian sausage". There is even a requirement as to the amount of fat it contains. So if you see Italian sausage on the menu at other pizza places it is likely you are getting real meat. Look out for pork sausage or even pork topping. This means that there is probably TVP in it.
My pepperoni is made from 100% beef and pork. It is made and then dried for 18 days before it is sliced and frozen for shipment to our stores. Some competitors use pepperoni that contains much more fat which is much less expensive.
My chicken is 100% white breast meat. It is marinated in spices and then grilled. Then it is chopped up for use on my pizzas. Many of the competitors use a formed product made from the combined cuts of the entire chicken. Using 100% breast meat is much more expensive but well worth the extra expense to me, and to you I hope.
We use fresh mushrooms, onions, green bell peppers, tomatoes, and lettuce. We buy this produce locally as needed so it's always fresh.
Another reason many people love Mr. Jim's is because we put so much toppings on the pizza. We can't put more on our Sticky Fingers or it won't cook in the oven. We put more than 70 big slices of pepperoni on our large pizzas some of our competitor's (Little Caesar's) use less than 20. We increased the toppings a few years ago with great results so I know you like the extra toppings.
Another thing we do is use portion control charts. It took me many years how to figure out how to make every single pizza exactly the same way every day. I knew that that was an important part of McDonald's success and I wanted to duplicate that part of their operation. When you can make a sandwich with 1 bun 1 meat patty and 1 slice of cheese it's easy to make them all the same. But how do you get the same amount of cheese on every pizza? There was some work done with cheese slices as big as the pizza but that was awkward and the slices crumbled. We tried using cups of different sizes for each pizza but that was difficult because one guy would put the cheese in the cup lightly and another would pack it in tight. This caused quite a variance. So I figured the only way to do it is to weigh it out. We weigh out the cheese and all the ingredients for each pizza every day so that you can be assured you will get the exact same product every time you order.
It's this dedication to detail that makes a Mr. Jim's Pizza the one that you'll want again and again.