Sunday, December 13, 2009

My Excellent Chicago Deep Dish Pizza Experiment Part 2

All my previous attempts at deep dish were edible. All involved a cornmeal crust, cheese on the bottom, then sausage and a tomato concoction with grated parmesan cheese dusted on the top. The best recipe came from the ChiTrib food section. While it was ok there was no comparison to Gino’s East or Uno’s (I did not include Lou Malnatti’s or Giordanos because they are not worth including, IMHO).

Yesterday afternoon after re-reading the article and accompanying recipe I knew this would be a two to three hour prep so I started early. The magic (and work) is in the crust, as all pizza is. To me, cooking is easy and baking is not. Pizza is a combo of both.

It’s necessary to have a good stand mixer. We have had this Kitchen Aid top of the line mixer for more than 25 years. We have used it to make everything from bread to cookies to grinding meat for home made sausage and chili. It is worth every penny, if you like to cook.

The Cook’s secret to making the crust is to roll out the flour/cornmeal dough, spread softened butter on top and then roll it up. This is a pastry maker’s trick. It leaves layers of hard butter in the dough making a flaky crust. Sounds good to me. Then the dough is divided in half and set to rise in a bowl in the refrigerator so the butter never melts.

Their sauce concoction was superior to most. I could put that into a bowl and eat it by itself.

We cooked the sausage before adding it to the pizza. I think removing as much fat and grease is good. Chicago deep dish places do not, they let the sausage cook on the pizza in the oven.

The Cook’s recipe did not recommend using a stone and they also recommended cooking in an oven at 425 degrees. More on that later.

What I like about cooking at home over restaurants is that cooking is an activity I enjoy and it can involve others in a social activity. I think of it as entertainment. It costs less in most cases. You shed the guilt of tipping for poor service and less than expected quality. You can enjoy a cocktail and some wine and not worry about driving home and getting pinched. But above all it is most rewarding when the results are spectacular, and that happens most of the time for me.

This deep-dish turned out great. I may tweak a few things next time. The crust could have been crispier, maybe I will try using the stone. 1lb. of cheese was not enough divided between two 13” pies. Next time I will use more mozz cheese and add in some provolone.

All in all the results were what I have come to expect from Cook’s Illustrated. At LITGM we do not shill for anyone, as Dan likes to say. But shilling for Cook’s is not bad, hell, the magazine has no ads. It’s more like Consumer Reports and they don’t shill for anyone either.

UPDATE: I offered to send a copy of the recipe to readers. A few have requested it. Sorry, but common sense (and the law) prevailed. It would be a copyright infringement for me to send scanned pages from the publication. At LITGM we obey the law.

If you want the full recipe you may obtain it here.

They offer a free 14 day trial so it should not cost anything.


Dan from Madison said...

Awesomeness. Two or three more tries and you will have perfection dialed in. One question - did they use sugar in the sauce?

Gerry from Valpo said...

Yes, sugar was in the sauce. On my NY style thin crust it is not.

Dan from Madison said...

Figured as much. My only bitch about Gino's and the others is that at times I feel like they put too much sugar in the sauce, but that is just me.

Annie said...

You have my rolling pin! :p

Peggasus said...

Hey, I made this last night (I also love CI, and have gotten it for years), and it was excellent! My 23 and 18yo sons pronounced it 'awesome,' even.

As a Chicago suburban girl, I have eaten out at all the famous places and made many pizzas over the years from recipes in the Trib. I think the addition of the butter in the dough in this one really put it over the top, even my husband asked, "what kind of crust is this?" (Duh, pizza crust.)

Here are the only things I would do differently: skip grating the onion: it was messy and mincing it would do just as well. As I do have real deep-dish pans, I just made the dough in one ball and it filled a standard DD pan (14" wide, 2"deep) perfectly. Next time I think I might sub semolina for the cornmeal (semolina is the secret ingredient in thin crust, I have found), what are your thoughts on this?

Gerry from Valpo said...

Hi Peggasus, I like your ideas verry much. But since CI has my respect I always start by following precisely what they say, then tweak it as needed on the next try. You are correct about grating onions, that was dumb. The semola secret is news to me, I use a combination of bread and cake flour for my thin crust and always a pizza stone. Contact me via email:

Thanks for stopping by,

Peggasus said...

Hey Gerry ~

Here is the thin crust recipe with the semolina I use now, I won't make another anymore. Give it a try! There's also alot of other great stuff on that site.