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Best Homemade Pizza & My Failed Attempt at Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

November 3, 2009

It’s no secret I’m from Chicago where the BEST Pizza comes from.  Since moving to the South I don’t eat pizza like I use to, unless I make it myself.  One thing I haven’t had in 6 years is Chicago Deep Dish Pizza.  Now you have to understand, Real Authentic Deep Dish Pizza isn’t regular pizza with a deep crust, it’s made with deep cheese AND the toppings are put on backwards. Cheese on the bottom, sauce on top.  You need a knife and fork to eat this stuff.

I searched the internet to find a deep dish recipe and found several copycat recipes for Pizzeria Uno, which is a Chicago favorite.  Sorry, this didn’t cut it.  The crust was hard and crunchy or as Don said “Ellie May Crust”  (for those who never watched The Beverly Hillbillies you won’t understand what he meant but lets just say, you could chip a tooth on that stuff).  The crust rose quite a bit and was about an inch thick and the cheese was just a coating.  Then there was no sauce.  The recipe or should I say recipes since all 5 of them said the same thing.  One 15 oz can of tomatoes squished by hand and sprinkle oregano and basil on top.  Only one recipe called for garlic.

This was NOT pizza.  I’m going to try to adapt my homemade thin crust pizza recipe for another attempt at Chicago Deep Dish and when I do succeed you all will hear about it first.  In the mean time I’m going to share my pizza recipe which comes from a good friend in Chicago.  Yes, she’s Italian and she experimented with the crust to get it just right.  I’m posting the recipe the way it was originally given to me and towards the bottom are some tweaks that have been made…………………Enjoy.


CRUST (2 Pizza’s)
1 cup lukewarm water
1 pkg yeast
1 tblsp sugar
3 cups flour
seasonings of choice (example: oregano, basil, garlic powder, onion powder or minced onions, italian seasonings)

Pizza sauce (I like “Chef Pastorelli” but have used “Ragu”)
Toppings of choice (example: pepperoni, cooked italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, peppers, ham, pineapple, cooked hamburger, cooked bacon)
Cheese (mozzarella or pizza cheese (combination of mozzarella and cheddar)

Sprinkle yeast into water and add sugar.   Stir and let it sit about 5-10 minutes.   If the mixture developes a foam on top the yeast is active and OK for use.   Add this to the 3 cups of flour and mix well using your hands.   When all is mixed put the dough on a floured surface and knead about 10 minutes until dough is soft and springy.   Place in warm area and cover for about 30 minutes and allow to rise.

Place 1/2 of dough on floured surface and roll out into shape of pan you are using making sure dough is a little larger than the pan.   Place dough on a greased pizza pan or cookie sheet, pinch edges over to create a lip around the pizza cutting off excess if necessary.   Grease top of dough, prick with fork or knive several times and add seasonings.   (garlic, onion, oregano, basil, italian seasoning or any other seasonings you desire).   Place pan into 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes or until dough pulls slightly away from side of pan.

1/2 jar or can of pizza sauce on each pizza crust.   Add toppings of choice, cheese (avoid having cheese hang off the crust) and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until cheese starts to turn a golden color.   Let cool about 5 minutes before slicing.

NOTE: If 2 pizzas are a bit much for one sitting, let one crust cool completely.   Add toppings and cheese and place in freezer for about 1/2 hour to flash freeze.   Remove from freezer and pan and wrap pizza twice in foil.   Place back in freezer.   When you are ready to enjoy it, place frozen pizza directly on rack in oven and bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes.

I put foil on the bottom of the oven or on the lower rack to catch any drips from cheese.

Well, anyway, to the point.  Tonight I was talking to him about pizza sauce (the sauce on his pizza bread is a LITTLE different than his pizza sauce).  He makes his own sauces and says there’s no difference between Homemade sauce:  Make basic spaghetti sauce but adds  little brown sugar.  The sauce will thickens as it cooks on the pizza.

OPTIONAL HINTS: DO NOT ADD SUGAR TO THE YEAST, can cause the yeast not to work well.

For 2 crusts add about 2 tblsp oil and a tblsp or so of honey instead of sugar.  The oil in the dough makes it stretchier and you don’t have to roll it in flour as long or as hard.  Makes his dough ahead of time and refrigerate it a couple days.  Usually 3 days but not over a week.  Thatt adds a little moisture to the dough and makes it crispier when you bake it.


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