Possibly authentic (though maybe not) Chicago-style stuffed pizza

Last time I left New England and ventured into the Midwest (virtually speaking), I  found myself in a heap o’ trouble.

Blogging a recipe for Chicago deep-dish pizza, I implied – well, to tell the truth, boldly stated – that this recipe made an “authentic” Chicago-style pizza.

Boy, did I ever get set straight!

“I am from Chicago, born and raised, so there are a couple things I noticed are not quite ‘authentic’…”  – Katie

”Gino’s East does NOT use cornmeal in their crust and NONE of the authentic deep dish pizza restaurants that you mention use cornmeal. It is a myth that continues to be perpetuated.” Ed from Chicago

“Look at the title of the blog [since changed - PJ] . To me, it implies that the recipe is authentic and true to what you will find in Chicago pizzerias. The article itself does not really make that claim. I absolutely agree that you should make pizza how you like it. But the title implies authenticity and those of us who have noted some inauthentic additions are merely pointing that out. Still looks like an awesome pizza, authentic or not! I have yet to try a recipe I have not liked on this site.” – Jess

Jess, a former though not current Chicago-an, added her input a number of times during the ensuing back and forth about the blog and recipe. In fact, we both became so engaged in the subject, we started emailing one another.

Jess offered to send me her recipe for Chicago stuffed pizza. Hoping to stay out of trouble, I eagerly accepted.

And what a (delicious) project it turned out to be! If you love to spend time in the kitchen, this one’s for you. Jess not only makes her own sauce – she makes her own sausage.

WOW. I’d never made sausage before – though as it turns out, it’s incredibly easy.

The sauce was delightful – a very simple combination of tomatoes, garlic, and onion, Jess’ take on a Cook’s Illustrated recipe.

Her directions were perfect. And if I’d followed them, I wouldn’t have made QUITE the project out of the whole thing that I did.

For instance – “Pat the sausage into the bottom of the crust.”

Did I do that? Of course not. I put the whole layered thing together, carefully fanning the cheese, spreading the mushrooms, dolloping bits of chopped spinach overall; crust, sauce…

Opened the fridge to pull out the Parmesan cheese for the final layer – [swear word of your choice]! There was the sausage, the very first thing I was supposed to put into the crust.

So what could I do? I went ahead and baked the pizzas without sausage. The vegetarians were happy. I was not.

Take two: Make the crust, let it rest overnight in the fridge. Make the sausage, make the sauce, prepare the remaining fillings. Roll out the dough, put it in the pans.

REMEMBER THE SAUSAGE. Check. Phew!

Fan the mozzarella atop the sausage; spinach and mushrooms in one, artichoke hearts and olives in the other (loathe though I am to stray beyond what might be considered “proper” for a Chicago stuffed pizza); add the top crust, that yummy sauce, Parmesan… and for one of them, pepperoni on top.

Hey – I saw a Chicago stuffed pizza online with pepperoni on top, I swear!

Bake.

Remove two hefty 3-pound pizzas from the oven, and let them settle a bit, to avoid a messy lava-flow.

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Turn out of the pan.

Oh, my…

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Cut a warm slice.

Take a delicious bite.

Yo, Chicago – if this isn’t your idea of authentic, I don’t want to know about it.

Jess says I’m good to go (right, Jess?). And that’s good enough for this New Englander.

Ready for a weekend project? Let’s make Chicago-style Stuffed Pizza.

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Here are two specialty ingredients I use in this pizza: pizza seasoning, a blend of Italian herbs and spices, garlic, onion, and salt; and semolina, golden durum wheat ground too coarse to call flour, but perfect nonetheless for bread, pasta, and pizza crust.

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Put the following in a mixing bowl:

6 cups (27 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup semolina
1 3/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons melted butter

Mix till thoroughly combined.

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Add 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water. Use enough to make a smooth dough. You’ll use less in the summer, or if you substitute all-purpose flour for the semolina; and more in the winter, or if you’re in a dry climate.

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Mix till everything is cohesive…

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…then knead to make an elastic, fairly stiff dough.

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Place in a large, greased bowl; cover, and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour.

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As you can see by the ruler, this isn’t a really vigorous riser.

For best flavor, after its initial 1-hour rise, refrigerate the dough for several hours, or for up to 24 hours. You can use the crust after its first 1-hour rise, but its flavor will improve with the longer, slower rise offered by refrigeration.

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While the dough is rising, we’ll make the sauce.

Or not. Feel free to use bottled pizza or spaghetti sauce; your own recipe, or whatever you like. Bottom line, you’ll need about 28 to 30 ounces of sauce – just under 4 cups.

To make your own, start with canned (or boxed) tomatoes. Here’s a 28-ounce can on the left; a 26-ounce box on the right.

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Canned crushed tomatoes on the left; aseptically boxed chopped tomatoes on the right. Your choice; I happen to like the chunkier boxed tomatoes, so that’s what I used.

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Coarsely grate 1 small onion; you’ll have about 1/2 cup of onion. Sauté it in 1 tablespoon of butter.

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When the onion is starting to brown, add 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed. Cook for about 30 seconds, and remove the pan from the stove.

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Add the following:

1 teaspoon dried oregano; or 1 teaspoon Pizza Seasoning
4 teaspoons sugar, or to taste
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste*
*The amount will depend on the saltiness of the canned tomatoes. Under-salt a bit, as the sauce will cook down and the flavor intensify.

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Simmer gently for up to 1 hour, to concentrate the flavors. This is what the sauce looked like after 30 minutes.

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And here it is after 45 minutes – see how nicely it thickened?

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While the sauce is simmering, fry up some mushrooms, if you like. This is 8 ounces of button mushrooms, each chopped in half.

I happen to like mushrooms in my pizza. If you don’t care for them – leave them out. Or substitute peppers. No Pizza Police here.

Sausage is traditional in Chicago stuffed pizza. You’ll need 1 pound of bulk sausage.

Don’t like sausage? Leave it out.

Want to make your own? Here’s how.

Mix together the following:

1 pound ground pork
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon sweet or hot paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon fennel seed, lightly crushed
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more for spicier sausage)
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Refrigerate till ready to use.

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OK, let’s start assembling this baby. Place the dough on a lightly greased work surface. A kneading/rolling mat works well here.

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Divide the dough into two pieces. One should be about three-quarters of the dough; the other, one-quarter. If you have a scale, one piece should weigh about 36 ounces; the other, about 13 ounces.

Divide each piece of dough in half again. You’ll now have four pieces of dough: top and bottom crusts for two 9” stuffed pizzas.

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Start with one of the larger pieces of dough.

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Stretch, then roll the dough into a round large enough (about 15” to 16”) to line the bottom and sides of one pan, with some overhang.

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You’ll be rolling the dough quite thin; it helps to cover it with some lightly greased parchment as you roll.

Roll one of the smaller pieces of dough into a circle about 9” in diameter.

Cover both pieces of dough, and go away for 15 minutes. Or use the time to roll out the other two pieces of dough. Either way, you want to let your rolled-out dough rest for 15 minutes; it relaxes the gluten, allowing you to handle the dough without it shrinking.

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Butter the bottom and sides of two 9” x 2”-deep round cake pans, then drizzle olive oil in the bottom of each.

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Fold the larger piece of dough into quarters…

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…and center it in the pan.

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Take half the sausage, and pat it into an 8” round, to nestle  into the crust. I found it works well to put it on an 8” parchment round

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…flatten it under another round of parchment…

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…then pick the whole thing up and flop it into the crust, peeling off the parchment.

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You’ll need 1 pound of sliced mozzarella, 8 ounces for each pizza. “Tile” (fan) the mozzarella into the crust, atop the sausage.

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Add your fillings of choice. This pizza’s getting black olives and artichoke hearts. The other will get those mushrooms I fried earlier, plus a box of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry.

This bears repeating: no Pizza Police! Use whatever fillings you like.

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Put the smaller piece of rolled-out dough atop the fillings.

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Crimp together the top and bottom crusts.

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It’s coming together nicely, eh? Cut slashes in the top, to allow steam to escape as the pizza bakes.

Repeat the whole process with the remaining dough and ingredients, making another 9” round pizza.

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Cover the pizzas, and let them rest while you preheat your oven to 425°F, about 30 minutes.

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Just before baking, top the pizzas with the sauce…

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…and sprinkle with a total of 1 1/4 cups of freshly grated Parmesan, Romano, aged Asiago, or your favorite hard cheese grated cheese.  Use half the cheese (a scant 2/3 cup) on each pizza.

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See how the crust has started to puff?

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Put the pizzas in the oven.

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Bake till the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes.

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Lucky we used a 2”-deep pan, eh? Go thou and do likewise.

I decided to add a garnish of pepperoni on top of one of the pizzas. TOTALLY over the top.

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Remove the pizzas from the oven, and allow them to rest for about 15 minutes.

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Loosen their edges…

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…and gently turn them out of the pan onto a rack to cool.

To do this, place a round cooling rack atop one pan, and turn the whole thing over. Lift off the pan, place a rack on the bottom of the pizza, and turn the whole thing over again, so the pizza is now right side up.

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Like this. One 3-pound pizza, coming up!

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Use a pair of scissors or baker’s bench knife to cut wedges. Serve warm, with a fork.

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Here’s a good view of the layers: crust, then sausage, mozzarella, spinach and mushrooms, crust, tomato sauce, and more cheese.

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Now, you CAN make this entire recipe into one enormous 6-pound pizza by baking it in a 14” deep-dish pizza pan.

Be my guest! I found it kind of hard to handle.

Jess – thanks for the recipe, and most of all for the hand-holding and support along the way.

I love how baking and food and the Internet bring us together. ALL of us: Midwesterners, New Englanders, Brazilians (I know you’re reading this, Ricardo)… Enjoy, everyone. Life’s too short not to eat pizza.

Especially Stuffed Pizza.

P.S. Speaking of decadent – take a look at a reader variation on the three-cheese semolina bread recipe posted last Friday. The addition of cheddar cheese (extra-sharp, or chipotle); and a can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce turn this bread into a smoky-hot-cheesy “volcano” of flavor. Scroll to the end of the blog for pictures and instructions. WOW.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Lish

    That looks so incredible. It is just like a recipe my mom used to make when I was young. Must revive that recipe. I make my own sausage all the time, and find the best thing to use to mix it is the danish dough whisk. I also buy sausage seasoning for breakfast sausage and Italian sausage from a mail order spice place called Penzey’s. Oh so good!!! I will surely be making this pizza soon, with lots of veggies and homemade sausage and sauce from the freezer!

    Reply
  2. sarah m.

    My husband and I recently left Illinois for Toronto and the hubby has been missing deep dish pizza something fierce. I’m going to have to make this up and surprise him!

    Reply
  3. Wei-Wei

    Over the top? Definitely. Death to the waistline? You bet. Insanely, divinely delicious? HECK YEAH!

    I especially love that shot of the layers… my favorite part would be the spinach! Though the upper crust would be nice too… and the sausage… and the melty cheese… I can’t decide! It’s all too good! :D

    Loving the look of it! And who cares if it’s Chicago-style or not, you can’t deny this is a beautiful thing. :D

    Wei-Wei

    Reply
  4. Kari

    This looks absolutely delish! Was the dough shot with the Weight Watchers ruler accidental irony or on purpose? Either way I got a good laugh!
    Does the bottom layer of sausage ever have issues cooking completly? Or sog out the crust?
    Can’t wait to make this!

    I noticed the WW ruler, Kari, but said what the heck and used it anyway. I made the sausage from lean ground pork, and it didn’t seem to be soggy or greasy at all. And it totally cooked – it’s actually quite a thin layer of sausage, which is why it’s easier to pat it on parchment. PJH

    Reply
  5. Mom24@4evermom

    I’m excited to try this, the irony of you using a weight watcher’s ruler was just too funny. :)

    Where can you buy aseptic tomatoes? Never seen them in the store.

    As your grocery department manager about these. Frank @ KAF.

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  6. Paige

    I read that entire recipe thinking nothing but OMG.

    But did you really have to use a Weight Watchers ruler? That only reminded me that I’m trying to watch what I eat… Oy!

    Reply
  7. Mom24@4evermom

    I just realized the sausage goes in raw–doesn’t that make the pizza awfully greasy? I’m used to browning my sausage and then draining the fat.

    Remember, you are using only 1/2 of the sausage per 9″ pie. The pies come out “rich”, not greasy. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  8. Jess

    Looks awesome, PJ!!! I love the use of the Weight Watcher’s ruler in this blog :) And the artichoke hearts sound great.

    I agree – use any toppings you like, but try to get any extra moisture out that you can, as PJ did by precooking the mushrooms and squeezing out the spinach. Also, I love ’6 in 1′ brand tomatoes for this recipe, with (believe it or not) the Walmart generic a close second. Both were discovered from recommendations at pizzamaking.com, which is also where the sausage spice mix recipe comes from. Another advantage to making your own sausage is that you can use lean ground pork. Makes for a less greasy filling than pre-made sausage, and not QUITE as much fat and calories.

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  9. Tinky

    Lots and lots of work–and yet I think I may have to try it! I don’t worry about authenticity, just good food. Thanks to both you and Jess……..

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  10. Cher

    Ok – there had to be some intended irony with the use of the Weight Watchers ruler. :-)

    Looks like an excellent weekend project! Kudos for including the homemade sausage recipe.

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  11. sharriem

    Looks divine – but it’s a tad cruel, dontcha think, to use a WEIGHT WATCHERS ruler in the photos?!

    I know, I know – but it’s such a cute little 6″ ruler…. :) PJH

    Reply
  12. Bill

    I think you left out “Add the tomatoes” – couldn’t find it anywhere.
    The canned or boxed tomatoes were made into the sauce that goes on the top crust. Molly @ KAF

    Reply
  13. Leigh Elliott

    the WW ruler is hilarious! Looks absolutely amazing! I don’t think it’s for me because I just put on 8 lbs looking at the photos. I am however quite interested in trying to make my own sausage in the future! thanks for showing us this food in all it’s glory!

    Reply
  14. Allie, a vegetarian

    I want to know how the vegetarian version turned out. Was it good? I mean, to a vegetarian. :) Obviously a non-vegetarian would feel there was something missing. :)
    There was nothing missing about that pizza. It was delicious! Molly @ KAF

    Reply
  15. RobynB

    What is the difference between your Semolina Flour and your Extra Fancy Durum Flour? Are they interchangeable in recipes?

    Thank you!
    The semolina is a coarser grind than the durum. You can use them interchangeably but the texture will be different. Molly @ KAF

    Reply
  16. Peggy

    I absolutely love the WW ruler!! I laughed outloud when I saw them…too funny! Oh, and I wanted to jump through my monitor and have a bite. These look just too delicious. I make a lot of homemade pizzas and I will definitely being trying this! Thanks for posting!

    Reply
  17. Sue

    I haven’t been commenting much in recent months even though I’ve been reading along. I’ll break the silence for this though!
    Thank you to PJ and Jess for this. I love, love, love Chicago style pizza and got to have some last week when I was in Chicago. My hubby didn’t get to go along so I may have to whip this up for him next weekend.
    I also chuckled when I saw the Weight Watcher’s ruler. :-)

    Reply
  18. vel

    just what I was looking for after my first two weeks on the South Beach diet. I just got the whole grain semolina pizza crust mix and was going to try it out on a deep dish pie and make the sausage too thanks to my new grinder. If I’m going to be on a diet, only the best food will do. thanks for including the recipes for everything.

    Reply
  19. CC Rogers

    This looks so amazing, I just have to try it. I want to make it for a party the day before – should I bake it fully and reheat it, or underbake it slightly and finish baking before serving?
    It would be delicious either way. Molly @ KAF

    Reply
  20. Kat

    This looks absolutely incredible. I’ve never seen deep dish pizza in any Italian restaurants here in CT. But who cares! I make my own pizza at home anyway. I’ll have to give this one a try! Thanks.

    Reply
  21. Alicia

    I don’t have a deep-dish 9″ pan, but I do have a springform pan. Any reason that it wouldn’t work for this recipe?
    We haven’t tried it but there’s no reason why it wouldn’t work. Try it and let us know. Molly @ KAF

    Reply
  22. Keith

    Looks yummy, but I’d go with the Sir Lancelot flour with Hi Gluten. I buy it in 50lb bags and its the best pizza flour I have ever used. The only thing I’d change is the time. Make that dough a couple days ahead of time if you can and proof in the frig. Secondly, put it out the day of use and let rise on the counter. Lovely flavors develop in the bread! I’m going to have to try one of these. Oh I forgot, for the sauce buy 6-in-1 tomatoes you can get them online and no citric acid added so they taste just off the vine add some fresh oregeno basil and fennel seed crushed and a bit of sugar and evoo. Great sauce google it and you can order on-line! Finally

    Reply
  23. Sara

    I love how you used a weight watchers ruler for measuring the dough as it raises. Too funny… making a pizza with a bazillion calories. I wonder how many points a slice has????

    Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  24. Jess

    Regarding the springform pan, yes it works but I would put it on a baking sheet. Since you have a fair amount of butter in the pan, it can melt and leak through the seam and make a mess. I have used a cast iron pan with good results as well, and no mess.

    Regarding the Sir Lancelot flour, I would not recommend it as my first choice for this particular pizza. I also buy KASL in 50# bags and it is great stuff, but Chicago style is known for a more flaky, biscuit-like crust. This is not a bread-like crust, and I have used flours with less gluten than KAAP with very good results.

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  25. Bridget C

    As much as I wish it weren’t the case, I am pretty sure that weight watcherse points are NOT determined in inches high. although that would be nice… ;-)

    Reply
  26. Katie

    I am the Katie from the article! First, I would like to say, I am INCREDIBLY touched that my comment was read, and that I made it into this post! I actually now work at a suburban lou malnatis- go figure!

    As far as this article goes, Bravo! I am very impressed with the authenticity, and I will me making this pizza soon. Thank you!

    Always glad to hear from readers, Katie – I love it that we can all chat back and forth across the miles… so now you’re at Lou Malnati’s – bravo! Hope you’re enjoying it – I surely did enjoy their pizza in my hotel room… :) PJH

    Reply
  27. Kathy

    I also loved the ruler. It sure grabbed my attention.
    I look forward to making this pizza. My husband and I use to enjoy a double layered pizza in FL. I watched them make there pizza’s and they semi baked the bottom layer before adding all the other ingredients. It will be interesting to try this. Would have loved to had the sausage recipe too! Kathy

    Reply
  28. Susan

    I showed my husband the pictures – BIG MISTAKE! Now I have to make it! Ow-ow-ow! (I do have to get into the kitchen every so often to bake – otherwise I’ll explode!) I do have a question about the spinach. Can I use fresh spinach instead? We really can’t wait to try this! Thanks!
    You can absolutely use fresh spinach, just cook it down and drain it well to avoid the soggies. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  29. Pat Cronk

    Looks wonderful — dieting or not!! I can or freeze all my own tomatoes, so will go with that sauce — adding the indicated spices, of course. I can hardly wait to make this yummy-looking pizza!!

    Reply
  30. Joseph

    Looks like a Sicilian style pizza called “scachatta” (My mom would make) She was from Sicily, she would add more caramelized onions, and would serve it warm.
    It was yummy your recipe looks so good and like Pat says diet or not. I plan to make this. My mouth will not stop watering!

    Reply
  31. Nina

    Do Weight-Watchers even have Chicago-style stuffed pizza on their point lists?! Nice “touch” there PHJ!

    I use the boxed Pomi strained tomatoes and crunshed tomatoes because I try to stay away from the BPA (bisphenol-A) in the lining of the cans – and because it’s really of good quality.

    Reply
  32. SoupAddict

    Shows you where my mind is – I did not notice the WW ruler. I only had eyes for the pizza. Which, by the way, will be Saturday’s dinner. Yessirreebobarooni.

    Reply
  33. Paul from Ohio

    No pizza with sauasge is complete unless there is Fennel in the sausage seasoning.

    This has got to “take the cake” for the “Garbage bin Pizza”! TOO MUCH JUNK in my simple Chicagoan opinion. And I’m pretty sure no one will ever find this pizza at any Pizza outfit in Chicago.

    Sorry.

    Reply
  34. Missy

    PJ—OMG i wash i had seen this earlier today, for i would be trying it out! I think i may over the weekend….it looks amazing, as does EVERYTHING you and your baking elves make! :O)

    Lish, Penzeys spices is in the town next to me, a friend raves about it…I must go there to check it out soon!

    Oh and thanks for the homemade sausage recipe, it sounds amazing! I know my dear hubby will LOVE this, he loves sausage pizza!

    Be well, everyone! I so enjoy reading everyone’s comments…and i LIVE (and LOVE) to get my newest baking blog to see whats next!

    ~Missy in Hartford, CT

    Missy – thanks for your enthusiasm! Hope the “pizza project” turns out well – PJH (a one-time native of Glastonbury…)

    Reply
  35. Susan

    Looks awesome!! Any hints on how to store the second pizza? Would you freeze the pizza dough after the long rise or assemble the whole thing and then freeze? Thanks!
    Susan, I’ll ask PJ for suggestions. Thanks for your patience. ~ MaryJane

    Susan, I’d just freeze the dough in one chunk after its first rise. You could definitely freeze the sausage, and make the sauce and freeze half. I think you’d get better results that way than freezing the assembled pizza, though I could be wrong. I’m just a bit worried about the cheese, and what it would do. You could also bake both pizzas, and freeze the other one, baked; when ready to enjoy, thaw, and reheat in a 350°F oven, covered with foil, till warm. Readers, any advice? PJH

    Reply
  36. Donna Marie

    DEAR PAUL in OHIO….Hello this IS Donna Marie from Poudre Canyon, CO….go to READ The RECIPE……actually THERE IS FENNEL SEED in the SAUSAGE part OF THE RECIPE.
    You do have to admit…….THIS LOOKS OH My GOD DELISH !…..even if ” not Chicago ” Authenic……smile.

    Reply
  37. Jess

    Paul, there IS fennel in the sausage seasonings. 5th ingredient on the list for sausage. I agree, absolutely essential for any Italian sausage.

    As for the “Garbage Bin Pizza”, read the blog. PJ put in what SHE likes in her pizza, and tells you to add what YOU like. I generally only have spinach and sausage in mine, or sometimes just cheese, but it’s whatever you like, just make sure to avoid too much moisture in the added toppings/fillings. No Pizza Police, remember?

    As for authenticity, first, see the intro to the blog. And second, check out http://www.giordanos.com/stuffedpizza.html, which is the menu for Giordano’s, probably the most well known stuffed pizza in Chicago. Some of their pizzas have way more “junk” than PJ’s.

    The main point of the recipe (correct me if you meant otherwise PJ) is to provide the building blocks for making the pizza you want – this is a good crust, sauce and sausag, and you decide the rest.

    Absolutely right, Jess – I thought I was being pretty clear that 1) This wasn’t meant to be absolutely authentic Chicago stuffed pizza, but rather a homemade version inspired by the original, and 2) “no pizza police” – i.e., everyone should feel free to use their own favorite fillings. Though, as you say, make sure they’re good and dry to prevent sogginess. I’ve always admired Julia Child’s spirit – she’d delight in anything that was tasty, tradition be darned. She loved McDonald’s french fries as much as she loved a perfect pain au chocolat. Also, she moderated a recipe writers’ forum I attended once, where some of the participants started fussing about who was printing whose recipes without attribution – Julia said, “For heavens’ sake, if you don’t want to share your recipe, don’t write it down!” That made me smile, and she’s right: what does it matter “whose” recipe it is, so long as we all enjoy ourselves? Thanks, Jess – getting down off my soapbox now… :) PJH

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  38. Craig

    I live all of 3 miles from the KAF store in Norwich. My partner and I moved here in August, and we had not visited the store yet, as I was afraid that I would never want to leave. I have been using KAF AP flour exclusively for a long time and am a huge fan of your Chocolate Chip Cookie and Focaccia recipes. After reading this post yesterday, I decided I had to try it sooner than later. So, this morning, we headed to the KAF store to buy Semolina and the Pizza Seasoning. As I feared, I walked out with much more than just that! :-)

    I spent the better part of the day making this pizza. IT WAS COMPLETELY WORTH MY TIME!!! This pizza IS as authentic as you can get without actually going to Giordano’s. I know, I have been there several times. The crust is exquisite, and the sauce is absolutely perfect.

    I followed the recipe and directions with the following exceptions:
    - I did not use the pork sausage. As good as it sounds, we are vegetarian. We used sautéed mushrooms and pineapple. Delish!
    - I had to use more than 1 3/4 cup water. It was much closer to 1 7/8, possibly 2 cups. I weigh all my ingredients, so measuring should not have been a factor (although, the freak snow storm this morning may have been the culprit).

    I cannot express how wonderful this dish is. I encourage everyone to try it. You won’t be disappointed.

    Some tips for my fellow KAFers:
    1. One pie easily will feed a hungry family of four. If you pair it with a side salad, then it will easily feed six. Next time, I will halve the recipe.
    2. The dough is very stiff. My Kitchen Aid stand mixer (the small model) was not at all happy when I tried to use the dough hook to knead it. I ended up doing it by hand, which gave me a wonderful workout in preparation for the large amount of calories I was about to consume. ;-) Maybe a half recipe will be better suited for those with a smaller mixer.
    3. Use the KAF Pizza Seasoning. The smell and taste of it is heavenly!
    4. The Pomi aseptic pack tomatoes are truly superior.
    5. The next time I make this recipe I will leave off the Parmesan on top. It interferes with the texture. Plus, I am pretty sure this is the most un-authentic part of this recipe.
    6. Possibly the most important – If you can, use a springform pan. They are usually deeper, and there is no inverting necessary. DO put it on a pre-heated half-sheet pan, though, as they do leak. I used this today, and I am convinced this is the way to go.

    Thanks to PJ and the rest of the staff at KAF. You are all part of a great company, and your combined passion truly makes you the KING of your industry!
    Hey Craig,
    Glad you took the leap and went to the store. Trust me, it’s hard to resist the siren song of the bakery case on the way home from work. Actually, I lived 20 minutes away from the store for 5 years before making my first trip over, then it was a weekly stop! You’ll have to take a class soon and get to know the crew and keep your eyes out for the rest of us when you are there, it would be great to meet you. ~ MaryJane

    Thanks for the thorough vetting, Craig. And it’s worth visiting the store just for the free samples! Just shield your eyes and repeat to yourself, WALK AWAY FROM THE TOOLS… DON’T PASS THE CHOCOLATE AISLE… AVOID BEING NABBED BY THE GRAINS SECTION… (or not?) :) PJH

    Reply
  39. Ami

    I loved Lou Malnati’s in Buffalo Grove, Ill. (North Suburbs) Fave place to order pizza and pasta dishes. Yum Yum Yummy…too far away now to go. But, now I have INSPIRATION! Thank you!

    Reply
  40. marie

    Hi-does the spinach get soft, my crew here is not fond of chewy spinach. Thanks for the sausage recipe!!
    Boo hoo, I never got to try this pizza. I’ll ask PJ though. Stay tuned. ~ MaryJane

    Marie, the spinach doesn’t get any softer than it was when you put it in – so cook it till it’s as soft as you like before using. PJH

    Reply
  41. SoupAddict Karen

    Do you think it would be okay to halve the recipe? I’m cool with experimenting on the ingredient balance, (e.g., probably shouldn’t cut yeast exactly in half – maybe a teaspoon or even keep the original full amount), but any tips would be appreciated.

    I haven’t decided on my fillings yet, but I know that caramelized onions and sauteed mushrooms are definitely in the mix!

    As for the pizza police – boo. Good is good, authentic or not.
    Sure, go ahead and halve. You’ve got plenty of baking chops, so it shouldn’t be hard for you. Keep the dough texture in mind and adjust the flour and water as needed. You’ll be good to go! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  42. Jessica

    Hi there,

    I was just wondering if it is possible to make the whole recipe and freeze one of the pizza’s fully made? If yes, would you freeze before or after the last 30 minute rise time?
    There are only 2 of us and that is a lot of pizza! I have two 9″ silcone round pans which would freeze just fine (i think). Thanks for the wonderful recipe!
    You can partially bake the pizza, cool it thoroughly and then freeze it right in the pan. Thaw it over night in the frige and then continue baking until it’s browned and bubbling. Molly @ KAF

    Reply
  43. Susan

    I need some help with this. I made it today and had to bake it for 40+ minutes and still had undercooked sausage. I didn’t have a baking stone. Should I have lowered the rack in the oven? Otherwise, the cheese did melt nicely and everything else was cooked.
    Could your sausage have been thicker than PJ’s? Try putting the pan on a lower rack and covering the top with tin foil if it gets too brown. Molly @ KAF

    Reply
  44. Paul from Ohio

    SORRY ALL! I apologize for my inept post on a lack of fennel when it’s clearly there – and PJ’s inclusion of choices she likes and her suggestion for us to go likewise and add our own favs.

    I always hate when others post “missing the point” kind of posts and I’m sorry that I must have been in some kind of funk when I saw it.

    LOVE LOVE LOVE KAF………………and more specifically the great good people with whom I have had great communication. MJ – you should have deleted it when I mentioned what I’d done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Like I said in chat Paul, we post all valid comments, even if they don’t agree with us. It’s the only way to keep an honest, open dialog going. Thanks for keepin’ it real and speaking your mind. We know ya love us like family! :-) ~ MJ

    Reply
  45. Susan

    Thanks, Molly, for your advice! I think I patted it as thinly as I could see from the photo. Next time, I will either try it on a lower rack or precook it (my husband suggested that idea). It was otherwise delicious! Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply
  46. Lan

    Two questions: 1) instead of simmering the sauce for a whole hour, have you tried putting cornstarch or other thickening agent to make it less watery ? 2) this recipe seems to be different from other pizza dough recipe in the sense that it calls for a lot of oil/butter–15-16%. Why is it so ?You can use a thickener if you choose but the slow cooked sauce can not be beat for flavor. And the aroma while you are cooking it? I remember the days when we would simmer a sauce all day so 1 hour does not seem seem all that long. You really need to try a slow cooked version.
    This is a high oil content crust-this helps to make a sturdy crust and this pizza needs it. If you want a lover fat recipe you can try one of our other on-line pizza recipes. JMD @KAF

    Reply
  47. Library Gurl

    My husband and I were excited to make this. It reminds us of Papa Dels in Champagne, IL where we lived when we first were married. We couldn’t afford Dels very often back then.

    We baked the pizza in two 9 inch cake pans on a stone, bottom of the oven, used 1 lb of italian sausage. We baked the pies for the time recommended and when we took them out they looked lovely, they sat for 15 minutes and then we sliced into them….the sausage was still pink. Back into the oven for another 15 minutes.

    Next time I’m going to brown the sausage and crumble it on the bottom. I think I would prefer the texture better and I would also prefer the browned sausage taste.

    This pizza tasted alot like the Papa Dels pizza I remember!!!!

    Reply
    1. Jess

      This is actually meant to be a Papa Del’s clone! I’m the “Jess” who worked with PJ on this recipe, and I grew up in Urbana…

  48. Allison

    Made this yesterday and it turned out great! I actually didn’t have quite enough all purpose flour so added in some whole wheat and used cornmeal instead of semolina but it all worked anyways. Also substituted grilled eggplant for the sausage as I don’t eat meat but great recipe over all. My roommates had never experienced stuffed pizza and they loved it as well!

    Reply
  49. Alicia

    Reporting back to say that I made this in my springform pan over the weekend, and it turned out great! The pan actually made it very easy to remove and serve the pizza. I used mushrooms and onions instead of the sausage and served it for our happy hour on the deck. Everyone loved it! My neighbor, who is originally from Chicago, said it was as good as the pizza back home.

    Excellent, Alicia – thanks for the report. PJH

    Reply
  50. Jim

    I just made the recipe in a springform pan and that worked very well. My problem was with the baking time of “20 to 25 minutes”. This pizza is very thick and contains raw sausage!! At 25 minutes the inside of the pizza was less than 100 F. I cooked the pizza for 1 hour and 20 minutes with foil over the top to get the inside temp. to 165 F. That left the crust golden, but my dinner was an hour late.

    Reply
  51. SoupAddict Karen

    Made this for dinner tonight – absolutely delicious! It was a great rainy Sunday afternoon project. Did the whole shebang – homemade sausage [yum], homemade sauce [yum] – lots of veggies. Crust was beautiful (I used a springform pan, but it would not have been difficult to to get it out of a regular cake pan.) Definitely a keeper!

    Thanks for sharing your success, Karen – as always! :) PJH

    Reply
  52. Janet M

    I baked this recipe on Saturday and it was delicious! I was surprised that the sausage cooked through, and I did check the internal temperature before I pulled it out of the oven. Thanks for the recipe, it turned out great.

    Reply
  53. marie

    I made this in individual deep dish pizza pans-the sausage made the pizza-it was so easy. Every-one has their favorite ingredients at my house and this worked beautifully. This is a keeper recipe at my house!!!!

    Reply
  54. Kathi

    Another awesome recipe by you folks. Love that you got some insider info from the field.

    Just wanted to add a note about the sausage. Hope it’s not to late, snow storm knocked out power for over 48 hours. Anyway…I make all of our sausage, italian, breakfast, chorizo, cajun, etc. It is from elk, deer or whatever, but I always add pork to make it juicy, not fatty. If you have a grinder, or the patiences to chop it by hand, try buying a pork loin from a club warehouse. It seems a shame to grind a loin up, but it makes the best sausage, is very very lean, and the price per pound is cheaper than ready made by half or better. (Buy a whole loin cut 5#’s up for a batch of sausage, cut remainder into boneless pork chops, or cubes for curry, or strips for stir-fry, then freeze in meal size packages) A couple more suggestions for the best sausage: 1) crush spices before adding to meat, if making a 5# batch put ice cubes and water to make 1 cup in a blender add all spices and blend. 2) always try to make it the day before and let set in fridge overnight before cooking or freezing. Just like bread, it does wonder for the taste.

    Hope this helps you because you folks are always helping me. Thanks!

    Reply
  55. NGudgell

    This is a great recipe! I made it in the 14inch deep dish pan. I started it out at 425 for 25 minutes, but had to drop the temp to 400 and bake another 25 mintues. Next time, I will tent with foil the last 15 mintues, so that a portion of the top doesn’t burn. My family thought it was out of this world. Next time, I need more than three people to eat it. I did use the Pasta Sprinkle (Italian Herb mix) from Penzey spice in lieu of the mixture of spices for the sauce.

    Can’t wait to make this again.

    Reply
  56. Aaron Frank

    I haven’t been on the blog for a bit. April has been a bad month.

    Wow. This looks great. And as a third generation Chicagoan I’m glad to see stuffed pizza receiving its due. Most people only think of deep dish pizza but Chicago has stuffed and a really good, very thin, crisp pizza too. I miss them here but maybe now I’ll try to make my own stuffed. I used to make stuffed pizza in college and I’ll have to again because my son has asked for stuffed pizza (made by me) for his birthday.

    And even though I am a meat eater I’m also a big fan of stuffed spinach pizza.

    Thanks!

    We’ve missed you, Aaron. Hope things are looking up for you now – thanks for reconnecting. PJH

    Reply
  57. Margie

    Made it, ate it, and loved it! Consumed this baby nearly two hours ago and literally cannot stop thinking about it! I decided to make the pizza sauce and am so glad I did, this recipe has absolutely nothing wrong with it! I feel like I just took a bite out of heaven’s pearly gates! It’s got layers and layers of pure bliss! The sausage & mozzarella on the bottom of the pizza was my favorite part!

    Reply
  58. Mitch

    When I saw this recipe, I immediately made my grocery list. Halved the recipe and invited three friends. Made the pizza sauce, sausage, and started dough for overnight rise on Day 1. On Day 2, assembled, baked, and savored. It’s a bit of work but the two-day approach made the work more manageable.

    Everything was great. Guests loved it, I loved it. WELL, EXCEPT FOR ONE THING: I should have made the whole recipe for some tasty leftovers! I would have been happy to have this several days in a row. It was that good!

    Here it is a few weeks later and I’m still thinking about it. I’ve renamed it Awesome KAF Stuffed Pizza – so when I fix it again for company KAF will get a well-deserved plug! Might be about time for round two!

    Definitely a project, Mitch, as you say – but one SO worth the time. Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm here! PJH

    Reply
  59. d

    hi – hopped over from here since i wanted the ‘original’! this looks fantastic and i am most tempted to make it. i have a question -
    after the initial rise, should i refrigerate it in the risen state or should i punch it down and refrigerate it? (either way if you could also tell me the reason why, i’d appreciate it)
    thanks
    d
    While we do not show a refrigeration time in this recipe you can refrigerate after the first rise. You should deflate your dough first. This will allow it to rise again slowly in your refrigerator. JMD@KAF

    Reply
  60. d

    thank you JMD@KAF. your recipe actually does show a refrigeration time – see here
    “For best flavor, after its initial 1-hour rise, refrigerate the dough for several hours, or for up to 24 hours. You can use the crust after its first 1-hour rise, but its flavor will improve with the longer, slower rise offered by refrigeration.”

    but anyway i wanted to know whther to deflate the dough first and you have answered that question, so thank you :-)
    d

    Reply
  61. sl

    Authentic Chicago deep dish pizza depends on two things to achieve the biscuit-like texture it’s famous for: lots of oil and a short mix/knead time. A good ratio is 3 Tablespoon oil to 1 cup all-purpose flour (there isn’t and never has been cornmeal in Chicago deep dish–the yellow coloring comes from food dye). Mix 1 mintes and knead for no more than 2, then a long rise.

    Reply
  62. Nusra

    I just made this pizza and it’s delicious. I’m a born and raised Chicagoan but have been away for a couple of years. Whenever my parents come to visit me, I have them buy a Giordano’s deep dish spinach pizza, freeze it, and bring it for me! Guess I won’t be needing that anymore! Thank you for your wonderful instructions/directions, they were very helpful. I only made one pizza, since it was my first time, I didn’t want to mess up two, but I should have made another cuz it turned out awesome.

    One TIP: I used a 9 inch springform pan to bake my pizza in and it was so easy to take the pizza out, no flipping over or breaking.

    Definitely a great tip, using a springform – I’d do that, too, if I had a springform! :) PJH

    Reply
  63. Katia

    After I originally commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time a comment is added I
    receive four emails with the same comment. Perhaps there is an
    easy method you can remove me from that service? Kudos!
    Is it possible you may be talking about Facebook, Katia? Please contact us so we may help at 1-800-827-6836. Thanks! Elisabeth

    Reply
  64. Jess

    For those who use the Springform pans, I would recommend wrapping some tin foil around the bottom of the pan, or put the pan on a sheet pan. There is a lot of butter and oil in the crust, and it can leak out of a springform pan and make an oily mess.

    Reply
  65. r

    Left in fridge about 8 hrs, but never rose after the initial 1 hour rise. I used Bread Machine yeast, could this be the problem?

    Pizza was still very good, and I’ll make it again. Sauce was great too.

    Can the pizza dough be frozen? There is only 2 of us and this is a lot of pizza! How far do I need to go before I can put it in the freezer?

    Bread machine yeast should have worked just fine; unless it was out of date, but if it rose once, that shouldn’t be the issue. I say, so long as you enjoyed the taste, it was a success; the crust isn’t supposed to be a high-riser, by any means. You can make the dough, and freeze it right away. When you’re ready to use it, thaw it in the fridge; then let it rise at room temperature until it’s puffy. This takes the place of the initial 1-hour rise. Be aware it could take quite a lot longer than 1 hour, as the dough will be cold. Good luck – PJH

    Reply
  66. Sally Moravchik

    Can I use a store bought dough? If so is there any particular one I should look for?
    Thank you,
    Sally Moravchik

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I believe you could use store-bought dough, but I don’t have enough experience with them to recommend a particular brand.~Jaydl@KAF

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi there,
      You can use active dry yeast, remembering to proof it in water first. Use the same amount of active dry as instant in recipes. ~ MJ

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