Oh, boy... Chicago deep-dish pizza. Just the ticket for a cold January night.
It's been an icon on the culinary landscape since 1943, when the story goes that Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo “invented” deep-dish pizza at their newly opened Chicago restaurant, Pizzeria Uno.
Ike and Ric's new pizza was fashioned after a traditional Italian tomato pie: a thick crust with 1”-high sides, filled with tomato purée, and sprinkled with Romano cheese. But Pizzeria Uno's proprietors went a step (or a couple of layers) further, adding mozzarella cheese and sausage to the mix.
I'd always dreamed of sampling deep-dish pizza at its source: in Chicago. And several years ago, courtesy of a trade show, I got the chance.
I wasn't able to go to Pizzeria Uno: everyone else had had the same idea that night, and the place was mobbed. But I asked the front desk folks at our hotel where I might find some authentic Chicago deep-dish pizza, and they quickly recommended a nearby restaurant.
The initial vibes were good; old wooden booths, dark yet warm lighting, casually friendly waitstaff. I ordered the “classic deep dish,” and eagerly anticipated a landmark pizza experience.
The pizza I got was thick, all right. But the descriptors that spring to mind are “sloppy mess,” referring to its presentation. Followed by “sludge,” which would describe its unknown filling.
Basically, this pizza was a deep crust filled with watery tomato sauce and something chunky (peppers? sausage?), topped with a sprinkle of grated cheese. I barely made a dent in it before admitting to myself that this simply wasn't the deep-dish pizza of my dreams.
Now, with another trip to Chicago coming up soon, deep-dish pizza is on my mind again. But rather than wait for the authentic experience, I decided to create my own: Vermont deep-dish pizza.
Ahhh.... distinct layers of cheese and sausage and tomatoes and more cheese on top of a light, buttery crust.
Here's a picture of Pizzeria Uno's deep-dish pie, grabbed off their online menu. Save for a lack of green peppers, I think I came up with a pretty good match, no?
So who needs to go to Chicago, when you can make your very own classic Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza at home?
A buttery, crunchy/soft crust is key to classic deep-dish pizza. We'll start with this interesting dough, blending flour and cornmeal with three different fats: olive oil, vegetable oil, and butter.
Combine the following:
4 cups (17 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
2 3/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or salad oil
1 cup + 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
Mix till cohesive...
...then knead till smooth. This will take about 7 minutes at medium-low speed in a stand mixer. You can also make the dough in a bread machine set on the dough or manual cycle.
The dough will be fairly soft, but not soft enough to coat the inside of the bowl.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl or 8-cup measure (which makes it easy to track its rise), cover, and let rise till very puffy, about 60 minutes.
Look at that yeast work!
While the dough is rising, ready your 14” deep-dish pizza pan. Grease it with non-stick vegetable oil spray, then pour in 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil, tilting it to cover the bottom of the pan, and partway up the sides.
Stretch the dough to make as large a circle as you can. You can do this on a lightly oiled rolling mat, if you choose; or simply stretch the dough in your hands.
Lay the dough in the pan, and stretch it towards the edges till it starts to shrink back. Cover, and let it rest for 15 minutes.
When you come back, you should be able to stretch it to the edges of the pan. If you can't, give it another rest.
Stretch the dough to cover the bottom of the pan, then gently push it up the sides of the pan. The olive oil may ooze over the edge of the crust; that's OK.
Let the crust rest for 15 minutes or so, as you preheat your oven to 425°F.
The crust will puff up just a tad as you wait. No need to cover it; it'll go into the oven before it dries out.
Bake the crust for 10 minutes, until it's set and barely beginning to brown.
While it's baking, prepare the filling.
Open a 28-ounce can plum tomatoes, lightly crushed; or a 28-ounce can of diced or chopped tomatoes.
Drain the tomatoes thoroughly.
Combine with 1 to 2 teaspoons Pizza Seasoning or mixed dried Italian herbs (oregano, basil, rosemary), to taste. If you like – and this is strictly optional – add 2 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced; and 1 tablespoon sugar.
Fan 3/4 pound of sliced mozzarella cheese into the bottom of the baked crust.
Top with 1 pound Italian sweet or hot sausage, cooked and sliced; or about 3 cups of the sautéed vegetables of your choice. My choice is definitely sausage, but mushrooms and onions would be a tasty vegetarian alternative.
Spread the drained tomato mixture on top.
Sprinkle with 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese.
Finally, drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil.
Bake the pizza for about 25 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the topping is golden brown.
Remove it from the oven, and carefully lift it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. Leaving it in the pan will give it a soggy bottom. A giant spatula is definitely a help with the maneuvering here.
Yes, the pizza pictured above is still in its pan. I'd carried it from the kitchen to a big window in the hallway, where I often take photos. And I was so enthused by its looks, I forgot to take it out of the pan. Do as I say, not as I do!
Allow the pizza to cool for about 15 minutes (or longer, for less oozing) before cutting and serving.
Thick, buttery crust; mozzarella; sausage; tomatoes, garlic, herbs; Parmesan; olive oil. Now THAT'S deep-dish pizza!
Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza.
Speaking of Chicago, I'll be attending the year's biggest housewares trade show there in March. And I'll be blogging my daily discoveries (technology permitting).
So, start thinking – what does King Arthur NOT currently carry, in the way of tools, gadgets, or pans (anything non-food), that you'd like me to look for? Speak up, folks - now's your chance! I'll make a list of requests and see what I can find. Thanks (in advance) for your help.