October 10, 2010
Chicago Love is Deep
Deep dish, that is. And tonight, Sunday night, we brought Chicago to Philadelphia by baking up a big pan of this Chi-town favorite. You see, M is from Chicago, so his love for this thick-crusted, hunky pie runs very deep. There are many reasons I am thankful to be marrying M, but his hometown roots and the indigenous food they have introduced into my life is certainly a noteworthy one.
No surprise -- the way to my heart is through my stomach. Ever since I took my first bite of real deep dish at Giordano's, the windy city's famous stuffed pizza joint, I, too, was hooked. I was in awe. The cavernous crust was made up of pillowy clouds of biscuit, and the filling had to be pounds worth of mozzarella... never-ending globs of thick, melted cheese lovingly kissed with a topping of sweet sauce. It simply doesn't get any better than that.
Anyway, fast forward to today, when M and I biked over twenty miles from Philadelphia out to Valley Forge and back again. M likes historical landmarks. I like the bike ride, and the land out there is gorgeous. So together we ventured out and took on the road on two wheels. Today's outing was many things: beautiful, enjoyable, adventurous.... and a jump-start to our appetites.
When we got home the only thing we could think about was making a big pan of deep dish pizza and loading it with healthy but yummy ingredients like sauteed spinach and peppers. We also roasted a big head of garlic so that we could spread the wonderfully soft, mild cloves over the big crusts of every slice. Thankfully, you don't need to bike 45 miles to enjoy this meal -- it's both nutritious and fun -- a good for anytime meal. And since we can't be in Chicago all of the time, it looks like deep-dish will just have to make regular visits to us instead.
Homemade Chicago-Style Pizza: makes one 9" pie
1 package store-bought pizza crust (I used whole-wheat, but regular would be wonderful)
Flour for dusting
1 T. olive oil
1/2 lb. fresh or packaged part-skim Mozzarella cheese, shredded
3/4 cup tomato sauce
1 T. hot red pepper flakes
Grated Parmesan cheese
Toppings in any combination of your choice. Make enough to fill the body of the pie: try browning turkey sausage or ground beef, cooking down a bag of fresh spinach, sauteing colorful peppers, and layering on pepperoni, etc.
Lightly flour the dough and shape into a ball. Allow to rest out of the fridge for 30 minutes, then roll into a circle of about 10-11". Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the dough a 9" pie pan or skillet, oiled with 1T. olive oil, and prick the dough with a fork in a few spots. Allow to pre-bake for ten minutes or until lightly golden brown and bubbling. Use this time to prep the other ingredients.
When the dough is cooked in the pan remove it from the oven and poke the air out of any dough-bubbles that have formed. Now layer your shredded mozzarella down over the bottom of the dough. Evenly pile on your toppings to almost completely fill the pie, then top with a layer of sauce to cover the filling, leaving the edge of the crust exposed. Sprinkle the hot pepper flakes and parmesan cheese over the top of the sauce, then brush the exposed pie edges with a bit of olive oil.
Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve immediately.