Cook Illustrated’s Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza
When it comes to pizza, I don’t discriminate. I like to pretend I’m a purist, but in the end, if I’m not in Naples, pretty much anything’s open and well-liked by me. That includes anything from bubbly, thin-crust pizza topped modestly with quality tomatoes and buffalo’s milk mozzarella made by an open fire, to the stuff that comes out of a box. Really—I happen to actually like DiGiorno pizza. (I know, quelle horreur!)
But I do, somewhere within me, know there is a hierarchy when it comes to all of this. Though I will eat greasy, delivery pizza, I do know I much prefer pizza made in a quality pizza place or even pizza made from scratch at home. I do have principles of some sort, after all, even if they are the kind driven by peer pressure and social acceptance. But ever since I made this Chicago-style deep dish pizza earlier in the week, that morally-loose hierarchy has been all out of sorts. Where does it fit in? It is homemade, and it is very awesome. But am I supposed to proudly show my love for it, or is it more of the kind you sweep under the metaphorical rug in hopes of hiding some sort of obvious uncontrollable gluttony? Because look at that thing: is it even pizza?
But, who am I kidding. Yes, of course it’s pizza. And yes, of course I should be proud of loving it, and the enormous portion sizes of it that I serve myself. (The original recipe suggested that half of one pie served one. Oh yes, I think I can manage that.) It is a wonder in itself: gooey mozzarella trapped under a rich, flavorful tomato sauce that’s all contained in a crust that reminds me of croissants in its flakiness and butteriness.
The crust is actually something of a hybrid between croissants and breadsticks, so there is some truth to that comparison. Cook’s Illustrated developed the recipe so that once the yeast dough has risen, it is “laminated” with a smearing of softened butter—just as in a croissant dough, though with not quite so much butter. The laminated butter and dough produce a crust that is crispy on the outside but fluffy, buttery, light on the inside, even under the weight of all its fillings. That, in combination with the texture that comes from the addition of cornmeal, makes for a pizza dough that I won’t forget anytime soon. Oh, and once you eat the interior of a piece, the end crust piece happened to make most possibly the most delicious breadstick you’ll ever eat, just so you know.
In terms of the authenticity of this Chicago-style pizza, I’ve absolutely no clue how it compares with Chicago’s actual pizza-pies, seeing as I’ve never really been to Chicago (I don’t count my experiences at that god-forsaken O’Hare airport as being in Chicago). However, the always-impressive Katie actually lives there and recommended this recipe, saying that it’s better than a lot of deep dish pizzas served in Chicago. Good enough for me!
One Year Ago: Thin Mints
Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza
From Cook’s Illustrated
Makes two 9-inch Pizzas (Serves about 6)
The recipe for the tomato sauce calls for grated onion. I followed it faithfully, because Cook’s Illustrated usually has a reason for everything. The sauce was pretty amazing, and I’d make it again. However, I suppose the pizza would hardly be altered if you wanted to substitute any good-quality, not-too-pureed tomato sauce you may already have on hand. Also! I forgot to mix the fresh basil directly into the sauce, so I sprinkled mine on top, as you most likely noticed in my photos.
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/4 cups room-temperature water
3 tablespoons butter, melted, plus 4 tablespoons, softened
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup grated onion
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil
1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 4 cups)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
First, make the dough. Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar and yeast in a large bowl. Add the water and melted butter and mix with a wooden spoon for a minute or two until fully combined. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until the dough is glossy and smooth. (You shouldn’t have to add any additional flour in the kneading process; it will becomes less sticky as time goes on.)
Rinse and clean the bowl, and coat it with a teaspoon of olive oil. Place the kneaded dough in the bowl, turning the dough to get its surface coated with oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature the dough has nearly doubled in size, about an hour.
While the dough is rising, make the sauce. Over medium heat, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the onion, oregano, and about 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook, making sure to stir occasionally, until the onion is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Increase the heat to high and add the tomatoes and sugar. Once the sauce is brought to a simmer, lower the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer until the sauce reduces by about 1/3; You should be left with about 2 1/2 cups of sauce. Remove from heat; stir in the basil and taste for salt and pepper. Set aside until needed.
Once the dough has risen, turn the dough onto a dry work surface. Roll into a 14 by 12-inch rectangle. Spread the 4 tablespoons softened butter over the surface, making sure to leave a border of about 1/2-inches around the edges. Starting at the short end (left-to-right, not bottom-to-top), roll the dough into a tight, squat cylinder. Placing the seam side down, flatten the cylinder into a 18 by 4-inch rectangle. Cut the rectangle in half, creating two roughly 9 by 4-inch rectangles. Working with one half, fold the dough into thirds inward (like a “business letter”), and pinch the seams together to smooth it out and form a small ball. Repeat with the other half. Return the balls side-by-side to the oiled bowl. Cover tightly and let rise in the fridge until nearly doubled in volume, about 50 minutes to an hour.
While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with 2 tablespoons of olive oil each. Once the dough has risen, transfer the rounds to a dry work surface. Working one round at a time, roll out into a 13-inch disk, about 1/4-inch thick. Transfer to one of the prepared pans; press the dough into the pan, working it into the corners and about 1-inch up the sides (you may have to fold over the sides to make it all fit within 1-inch up the sides). If dough resists stretching, let it relax for a few minutes before proceeding. Repeat with the reaming dough ball and pan.
Spread 2 cups shredded mozzarella evenly over the surface of each pizza. Divide the tomato sauce between both pizzas to evenly cover the mozzarella. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons parmesan over the top of each pizza. Bake in the preheated oven until the crust is golden brown, about 20 to 30 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving.