Pizza Pizza


Today's post is all about the greatest thing ever, pizza. Now I know it's very easy to call in a pizza and go by and pick it up - and by all means I am NOT discouraging THAT. We definitely treat ourselves to that quite often (we love our Pizza Boy). However, from time to time, when we have a 'stay at home allll day' kind of day (those are the BEST) where no makeup or real clothes are required, we like to make a homemade pizza. This pizza is Chicago style, thick crust, and once you've devoured some, will crave it from time to time. That being said, I am opening up the archives to share this top secret recipe with you, my nearest and dearest :) but, seriously. . .this guy. . .I love cooking for him!

Now back in the late 80's, Jeff Smith, my all time fav channel 13 cooking hero (before The Food Network even existed), revealed this amazing pizza recipe. He even stated in his book, The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American, "Chicago has more pizza joints per capita than any other city in the world. There are two thousand pizza parlors within the city limits of Chicago alone." So, what is the big deal about Chicago pizza??? Bear with me for a little history lesson.

The Frug tells this story, "Following World War II, a local Chicago soldier returned to his city and to a job in a popular bar. The owner wanted something new saying, "We have to feed these people to keep them coming in!" The soldier, who had just returned from Italy, suggested pizza. "It's bread with tomato on it and they give it away in Italy." He began to experiment, and Chicago deep-dish pizzas were born. Don't be confused by the fact that you can't buy this in Italy. You never could. This is a Chicago invention, and the bar where it was invented is called Pizzeria Uno."

Nobody in town can quite beat that basic recipe, though many other companies now are great competitors of Pizzeria Uno. Jeff Smith also says, "I have tried to figure out how it's done at Pizzeria Uno and I think that I'm very close. I ran this recipe by Mama, a gorgeous black woman who has been cooking pizzas there for thirty years, she smiled and nodded. I think it was a yes!"


It is not layered as the pizzas purchased around here are - I'm thinking this is why we crave it. Try out this dough when you have the time, you will love it. The Frugal Gourmet says you should get up right now and make it! But, if you don't have the time or are already in bed, purchase some frozen dough at the grocery store very soon or even from a pizza shop (yes, you can do that). The point is, try layering your next homemade pizza this way - cheese on bottom instead of the top, and go for a thick crust sometime - you'll be glad you did. :) This recipe is easy, you don't even have to really roll it out. You just push it into place in the pan. On a side note, Wilton cake pans are best for baking deep-dish pizza.

WHAT YOU NEED:

2 pkgs quick rise yeast

2 cups tepid water (too warm and it will kill the yeast)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup cornmeal

5 1/2 cups flour

FILLINGS/TOPPINGS FOR 9-10 INCH PIZZA:

1/2 lb (or more) sliced or shredded Mozzarella cheese

2 cups canned tomatoes, drained and squished

(we used petite diced - you can use sliced fresh as well)

1 teaspoon basil (we sometimes omit this)

1 teaspoon oregano (we don't care for it, we don't use)

2 cloves garlic, chopped

salt/pepper to taste

1/4 cup parmesan cheese (for topping)

3 tablespoons olive oil

OTHER OPTIONAL TOPPINGS

sliced pepperoni, mushrooms, bell peppers,

onions and/or olives - oh yes, olives!

And more, so much more...

WHAT TO DO:

In the bowl of your electric mixer - KitchenAid is easiest for this -

dissolve the yeast in water.

Add the oils, cornmeal, and 3 cups of the flour.

Beat for 10 minutes in the mixer (this is why a good mixer works best).

After mixing for 10 minutes, change to a dough hook

and mix in the remaining flour. Knead in the machine

for several more minutes. It's a bit tricky to do this by hand,

as the dough is rich and moist.

Pour out the dough on a clean countertop and cover with

a very large bowl. Allow to rise until it has doubled.

Punch down and allow to rise again.

The second rising is usually much quicker.

And sometimes THIS happens.

In the mean time, prepare your toppings and pans.

Oil several round cake pans.

Put a bit of dough in each and push it out to the edges,

using your fingers. Put in enough dough so that you can

run the crust right up the side of the pan,

making it about 1/8-1/4 inch thick throughout the pan.

Once the dough is smooshed into the pans,

place the cheese in tile like layers (if sliced)

or spread evenly (if shredded) right on top of the dough.

Next, put in the squished tomatoes on the cheese evenly.

Sprinkle with salt/pepper, garlic and herbs.

If you want to use any toppings place them on now.

Pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, etc.

When you're ready to bake, sprinkle on the parmesan cheese

and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake the pizza pie in a 450 degree oven until the top is golden

and the crust is a light golden - about 30 minutes.

This may take a little longer if you have several pans

in the oven at one time.

This pizza is so fantabulous I hope you will try it soon.

You know what happens when we make it? Plates are licked clean.

ENJOY!



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