Prepare yourselves. This is a long post with lots of pictures but I promise you it will be worth it. The pizza challenge for this week was a no-brainer.
I am from the south side of Chicago and we frequently an amazing little place called Milano's (if they had a website I would link it, but instead I will just provide you with their phone number and exactly what you should order if you ever have the chance: 773-445-4010 - 1 medium deep dish spinach - light on the cheese and 1 medium thin crust veggie. Don't ask questions - just do it).
A few years back I happened upon the Cooks Illustrated recipe for Chicago deep dish and decided to try it out. While I've been able to have decent deep dish at a few places outside of Chicago, for the most part something is missing. The crust isn't right, or they order the layers wrong (!), or the ratio is off... whatever it is, I just have never had anything close to Milano's until I made this CI recipe (I put it at the bottom since it is long).
The dough process is no more lengthy than any pizza dough, but does require a little technique in order to get the flaky crust. After the initial rise, i rolled out the dough and spread soft butter all around (it called for 4T, but I only used 2T).
That cylinder gets rolled out again, but into a skinny long rectangle.
I sliced the dough down the middle (the short way) and folded each half like a letter before putting it into an envelope.
I pinched the ends together and sealed the bottoms to make them back into balls, put them back in the bowl, and put them in the fridge to rise again.
While the dough rises the second time, I started the sauce. This sauce is so easy and basic but it really makes all the difference. I freqently make this sauce and put it into baggies to use for pasta at later dates. It is so handy! I started with butter, onion and oregano.
I added some garlic and a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes and basically let it simmer for 30 minutes until it was reduced and fairly thick. I reduce it a little when I am going to freeze it, but for the pizza, it is good to have a thicker sauce as you want it to hold on top of everything without seeping in.
When the dough was ready, I took it out of the fridge and rolled each ball out to a ~12-14" circle.
I prepped my pans - I use two 10 inch cake pans - by spreading olive oil inside and then sprinkling some cornmeal.
I drape the rolled out skin over the pan and then slowly work the middle down careful to leave generous amounts for the sides. The sides tend to fall a bit, so I really try and leave about an inch above where the guts will stop. It is important to have a good handle with deep dish pizza.
Rule #1 in Chicago Style Deep Dish - The "toppings" go in first! Here we have onion, red pepper and mushrooms.
This is two packages of frozen spinach (I could have put 4 in here and really should have. I love LOTS of spinach) that I thawed and squeezed all the liquid out of.
Next comes the cheese. The CI recipe calls for 4c.of cheese but that is also for just a cheese deep dish. Because I use filling ingredients and because I already like my pizza a little less cheese heavy, I used 2 generous cups total rather than on each pizza.
When the sauce is done reducing, basil, salt, pepper, and olive oil are added. I let is cool a bit (moreso out of kitchen timing than anything intentional or thought out) and piled spoonfuls into the middle of each pizza. Spreading the sauce is like frosting a cake - you have to be careful not to "pull" the ingredients underneath so two things are important: 1) Don't skimp on the sauce. Use half of the sauce you made even though it may seem like a lot. 2) Be patient while spreading. Use a slow outwardly motion with the back of a spoon and try to get the sauce to seal in the cheese by making sure the sauce gets all the way to the dough.
Sprinkle the top with Parmesan (again I used a fraction of what this recipe calls for), and get ready for the longest 25 minutes of your life.
If it is important to know which is which when making different flavors, you might try putting parm on one and not the other or something. In my fit of drool I forgot which was which and got to be surprised when I cut into them. When the crust is golden, you can stick a butted knife into the center to make sure the middle is hot, but I can just smell it so I knew these were ready to go.
We cut each pizza into six slices as I find four slices per pizza makes it hard to bite in without getting sauce and cheese all over you face. Do as you wish though!
If I had real deep dish pans, I might have room for more filling stuffs which is my only regret. I like LOTS of fillings, so the cake pans can be limiting on that front. But still, these are the most delicious thing that I think has ever come out of my kitchen. I am salivating while writing this knowing that I get to each leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Below is the pic of the mushroom, onion, red pepper final product and the very first picture of this post is the spinach.
Makes two 9-inch pizzas, serving 4 to 6. Published January 1, 2010. From Cook's Illustrated.
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS: We had to discover the secrets to achieving the perfect crust—an airy, flaky inside, a lightly crisp outside, and a rich taste that could hold its own under any topping—before we could claim that our Chicago-style deep-dish pizza recipe was authentic. A combination of flour, cornmeal, and butter gave us the flavor we were looking for in our deep-dish pizza recipe. Rolling and folding the dough gave the crust delicious layers. Refrigerating the dough during the second rise allowed the butter to chill, resulting in a high and flaky rise.
Place a damp kitchen towel under the mixer and watch it at all times during kneading to prevent it from wobbling off the counter. Handle the dough with slightly oiled hands, or it might stick. The test kitchen prefers Dragone Whole Milk Mozzarella; part-skim mozzarella can also be used, but avoid preshredded cheese, as it does not melt well. Our preferred brands of crushed tomatoes are Tuttorosso and Muir Glen. Grate the onion on the large holes of a box grater.
- 3 1/4cups (16 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2cup (2 3/4 ounces) yellow cornmeal
- 1 1/2teaspoons table salt
- 2teaspoons sugar
- 2 1/4teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
- 1 1/4cups water (10 ounces), room temperature
- 3tablespoons unsalted butter , melted, plus 4 tablespoons, softened
- 1teaspoon plus 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4cup grated onion , from 1 medium onion (see note)
- 1/4teaspoon dried oregano
- Table salt
- 2medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1(28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (see note)
- 1/4teaspoon sugar
- 2tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Ground black pepper
- 1pound mozzarella cheese , shredded (about 4 cups) (see note)
- 1/2ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup)
- Using fingers, coat large bowl with 1 teaspoon olive oil, rubbing excess oil from fingers onto blade of rubber spatula. Using oiled spatula, transfer dough to bowl, turning once to oil top; cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in volume, 45 to 60 minutes.
- FOR THE SAUCE: While dough rises, heat butter in medium saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add onion, oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and onion is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and sugar, increase heat to high, and bring to simmer. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to 2 1/2 cups, 25 to 30 minutes. Off heat, stir in basil and oil, then season with salt and pepper.
- TO LAMINATE THE DOUGH: Adjust oven rack to lower position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Using rubber spatula, turn dough out onto dry work surface and roll into 15- by 12-inch rec-tangle. Using offset spatula, spread softened butter over surface of dough, leaving 1/2-inch border along edges. Starting at short end, roll dough into tight cylinder. With seam side down, flatten cylinder into 18- by 4-inch rectangle. Cut rectangle in half crosswise. Working with 1 half, fold into thirds like business letter; pinch seams together to form ball. Repeat with remaining half. Return balls to oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise in refrigerator until nearly doubled in volume, 40 to 50 minutes.
- Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with 2 tablespoons olive oil each. Transfer 1 dough ball to dry work surface and roll out into 13-inch disk about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer dough to pan by rolling dough loosely around rolling pin and unrolling into pan. Lightly press dough into pan, working into corners and 1 inch up sides. If dough resists stretching, let it relax 5 minutes before trying again. Repeat with remaining dough ball.
- For each pizza, sprinkle 2 cups mozzarella evenly over surface of dough. Spread 1 1/4 cups tomato sauce over cheese and sprinkle 2 tablespoons Parmesan over sauce. Bake until crust is golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove pizza from oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving.