Chicago Deep Dish (also know as "Pizza Pie") is one of my favorites. I love that the deep crust allows that much more space for delicious toppings. Heck, I even like that you can make the crust thicker, since I'm a huge fan of crust. You really can't go wrong! For recipes, I usually like to have a picture showing all the ingredients during prep, but I hadn't intended to write up a recipe for this, so I only took the after pictures! However, after some thought, I figured that pizza is straight forward enough that just the after pictures would do. I tried to minimize the dairy on this pizza to keep it economical, and I also didn't go too fancy with toppings (like artichoke hearts). This is a nice, basic veggie pizza, with all the good healthy stuff!
For tools, you will need two cake pans (with lips/rims preferably), a rolling pin, a medium sized pot, and cutting board. For best results, it is also a good idea to have a pizza stone, or tile pieces in your oven. The benefit being that it keeps the heat distributed evenly, and so you'll get the most perfect crust results. This recipe yields two pizza pies. And it takes 2 to 3 hours to prepare from start to finish, depending on your pace.
2 28 oz. cans whole plum tomatoes
2 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp chili flakes (or substitute with 1/4 tsp cayenne)
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 bulb garlic, minced fine (or more to taste, I use a whole bulb)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
squeeze of lemon juice or drizzle of red wine (optional)
1 large portabello mushroom, sliced thin
1 medium red onion, sliced thin
1 green pepper, sliced thin
3 generous handfuls fresh spinach
1/2 cup sliced black olives (or kalamata olives, torn into small pieces)
2 cups mozzarella, grated large
1 cup parmigiano-reggiano (parmesan), grated small
a few pinches of course sea salt
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (or 1 packet)
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 tsp. sugar
4 cups all purpose flour (plus extra for dusting)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
First prepare the crust. In order for the yeast to be activated, you want the water lukewarm. If it is too hot or too cold, it won't work. To make sure it's the right temperature, dab your fingertip into it. It should be comfortable to touch, and not feel too cool. Combine the yeast with the water in a large bowl, and mix it with a fork for a second.
When the yeast starts to get frothy, mix in the flour a cup at a time. Work the dough well, for at least 6 minutes. It shouldn't be too sticky. Once it is combined well (no pockets of flour sitting on the bottom), put the olive oil into the bowl and turn the dough to coat it. Now it needs to be left to rest and rise. My favorite way to do this is to leave it on a 12x24 or 18x18 glazed tile piece. Unlike leaving it on a wooden cutting board, it won't stick at all. But a wooden cutting board will work fine as well. Cover it with a dry, clean tea towel so that it won't dry out.
Now it's time to prepare the sauce. Either put it into a pot and use a potato masher to get the tomatoes into chunky pieces (you don't want it too small, as this will just make the sauce wetter and it will have to cook longer), or do it by hand squeezing each tomato into the pot so that you have chunky pieces. Add the thick juices from the can into the pot as well. Now add the rest of the sauce ingredients. Simmer over medium-low heat for about half an hour, until you have a nice, thick sauce (when you put it in a spoon, it shouldn't drip). Thick sauce will keep you from getting soggy crust.
While waiting for the sauce, preheat your oven to 375 F. Prepare all of your vegetables. Prep them one at a time, putting each ingredient into its own bowl.
Once the sauce and vegetables are all prepared, and at least an hour has passed since your dough was set aside, you are finally ready to make your pizzas! Separate the dough into two equal portions. Dust your wooden board or whatever it is you'll be using to roll out your crust. Grease your cake pans with olive oil, to have them ready to put the crust into. Roll out the dough halves one at a time, stretching it to fit into the cake pan with some overhang. If there is too much hanging over (I let it hang off the rim of the pan a little bit, since I like lots of crust), you can trim it back with kitchen scissors. Don't worry if the crust seems thinner than you'd like, it rises when it's baking.
Add one cup of grated mozzarella to the bottom of each crust. The cheese will keep the crust from getting too moist, which could leave the crust raw. Now add the portabello mushrooms, green pepper, and red onion to each of the pizza pies equally. You can also add the olives now, or wait to add them at the very end. Now put the spinach onto the pizzas. And next, the sauce. To finish, sprinkle the parmesan evenly so that it covers the top of each nicely. You can add the olives now if you haven't already. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle each with a pinch of course salt.
To keep your crust soft, you can use a pastry brush to brush water onto the edge of the crust. Now put your pizzas into the oven. Every oven is different, so they may be done in 20 minutes, but they may not be done for 40 minutes. Leave in the oven for 15 minutes, and check to see how it's doing. At this point, you can brush the edges with water again to keep it soft if you'd like. When the pizza is done, crust will be golden brown. If your pizzas are not yet ready, but one side is starting to get golden brown, I like to turn them around so the other half gets browned nicely, too. Watch closely so you don't overcook it, and remove from the oven when it is nicely golden brown. Let sit for at least 10 minutes. Serve, and enjoy!