Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

10 Jul

Mushroom PizzaOh my goodness, this is superb. It elevates pizza (which I think is pretty high on the totem pole anyway) to sublime heights. Its got a golden, nutty crust, oozing cheese, and superb toppings. I make two lots of the crust, and set out two different pizzas – a divine mushroom and onion, and a blue cheese, spinach and onion. Aiyoh. Heaven. Just about my favourite dinner, and I dont know why I make it so rarely. Its pretty easy with a bit of forward planning. You need to have certain ingredients at the ready: the tomato sauce (I use my own tomato sauce recipe but you could just reduce some onions, garlic and tomatoes with oregano); a couple of toppings – I used sauteed spinach (with just salt and pepper), caramelised onions, and sauteed mushrooms; cheese – a mix of mozzarella and parmesan is good; and your dough. Once you have everything set, making and baking the pizzas is a matter of half an hour.

The dough is adapted from the Frog Commissary Cookbook… my favourite cookbook ever. Its very difficult to get durum wheat here in Malaysia, so I used very high protein bread flour. Also, its difficult to get semolina here (which is the rough version of durum wheat) so I decided I wanted a corn textured dough – I used polenta and fine ground cornmeal. Adjusting is the key – but you have to know what to replace and where. This gives you a nutty chewy delicious crust that holds its own against whatever you throw at it. Make sure to prep the dough at least 2 hours before you want to begin cooking.

Dough

For each pizza you will need:

  • 1 1/4 oz packet instant yeast (here in Malaysia, they sell 11g packets – you will need about 2/3rds of this)
  • 1 1/3 cups warm water
  • 3/4 cup polenta
  • 1/2 cup farina
  • 2 1/2 cups high protein bread flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Dissolve the instant yeast in the warm water, and set aside for five minutes or so.

Mix all flours with sugar and salt. Make a well in the centre, and pour the warm yeast and water, and the olive oil into the flours and mix well with your hands. You will have a soft dough. Knead a few times in your bowl. Make a ball, cover with a clean cloth and leave for at least half an hour to an hour to rise. Punch down, and use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 24 hours, and punch down and knead before use.

Assembly

For each pie you will need:

  • 14 inch long rectangle baking pan
  • A little oil
  • A little polenta
  • Dough
  • Cheese – a mix of mozzarella and parmesan – about 1 – 1 1/2 cups per pie
  • Tomato sauce – about 1/2 – 3/4 cup per pie
  • Fillings

Preheat oven to 200 C. Oil pan with a little olive oil and sprinkle polenta over.

Roll put the dough – thinner in the centre, and thicker on the sides, and transfer to the baking pan. Use your fingers to push and pull and prod the dough so that it covers the entire pan, going up the sides. Make sure that it is thicker at the edges, and thinner at the bottom of the pan.

Sprinkle about 2/3rds of the cheese along the bottom of the pie. Cover completely with tomato sauce. Spread the toppings over the pie.

I made two pies. The first was with caramelised onions (about 1/2 cup) and sauteed mushrooms (about 2 cups). You need to saute or cook all the vegetables before adding to the pie because you do not want the vegetables to lose their water during baking. You will need to saute the mushrooms until they let go of their liquid before you add them to the pie. The second pizza was with sauteed spinach and caramelised onions, with a little blue cheese added to the cheese topping mix at the end.

Spinach PizzaPut the pie in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until you see the edges begin to become golden brown. Take the pizza out of the oven, and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Let brown in the oven for a further 5 – 10 minutes. Allow to rest for at least 5 minutes once out of the oven. This is also wonderful cold, and makes a fantastic picnic!

All photographs copyright Chan KY

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