Friday, March 30, 2007

Anatomy of a Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

Last weekend, we decided to indulge in a home-made deep dish pizza. From start to finish, this process took close to 4 hours, but was SO worth it.

(A little long bit of back-story first... I've loved Chicago-style pizza ever since the 7th grade. I was on the video yearbook crew, and was chosen to go along and film a prize trip for students who had sold the largest number of something for a fund-raiser. This was cool because I never sold a single ____ (frozen pizza, wrapping paper, insert inane fundraiser here). My own parents never bought anything from me! To this day, the only kind of job I don't think I could ever do is sales. Asking someone to buy something? So not my nature. Anyway, the highest-selling 5 students had won an "awesome" prize- a limousine ride to lunch at the Pizzeria Uno. So I got to ride in a limo for the first time and eat Chicago-style pizza for the first time, and I didn't have to sell a thing. Score! When I took my first bite of the ooey, gooey pizza, I was amazed. The crust was so buttery- it was like a biscuit! Now, the crust has always been my favorite part of the pizza- not only am I not the kind of person that leaves their crusts on their plate, but I will eat the left-over crusts other people leave behind. So I love crust, and Chicago-style pizza is practically an homage to the crust. What's not to love?)

I found this recipe for the dough. I was so excited- it was inspired by Jeff Smith, the Frugal Gourmet! Does anyone remember the Frugal Gourmet? Way before the Food Network existed, I was watching him and Martin Yan on PBS.

After 2 rises, this dough was enourmous. I cut off half for our pizza and saved 2 balls of dough to freeze for future use.

Here I am stretching the dough. The resemblance to human flesh was frightening.

We baked it in one of our trusty cast-iron pans, stretching the dough up the sides.

Here are the toppings. Pizza sauce, with extra fennel seed and other spices, courtesy of Daiku. Roasted, peeled red pepper. Black olives. Red onions. Chopped garlic. Tofu ricotta. (Just a blend of firm drained tofu, miso, lemon juice, garlic powder, and dried basil) Roasted mushrooms. (We roasted them so they would give off liquid first instead of soggying up the pizza. We squeezed them to get every last drop out. It turns out, we needn't have worried much. This crust was STURDY!)

Oh, do you notice the magical hovering pizza sauce at right? I was holding it up, but the photo doesn't include my hands. The result is pretty hilarious.

Into a hot oven. We layered toppings in this order, trying to stay traditional: cheese, toppings, cheese. (I'll conveniently ignore the fact that traditional would probably also entail a pound of mozzarella and 4 pounds of meat...)

Out from the hot oven. (You'll notice that 1/4 of the pizza has dairy cheese - Gruyère - for Daiku on top)

Did I mention this crust had HEFT??

There you have it, a vegan chicago-style deep dish pizza. After a brief cooling-off period, it was ready to be sliced and go into our bellies. This dinner was satisfying! And the one pizza was enough for lunch and dinner for the two of us the next day. SO worth it.



scottishvegan said...

Wow! That is an amazing pizza!! It made me laugh when you said that you eat other people’s crusts…I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I nibble on Wee G’s pizza crusts when he leaves them! Ha ha!! And I love the floating pizza sauce…very cool!! I wish my food/dishes could do that!!

SusanV said...

I love the hovering pan of sauce! :-)

I never thought of using tofu ricotta on pizza. Just a few days ago, we made pizza to celebrate my daughter's report card, and she insisted we buy vegan cheese. I got Follow Your Heart, and it was okay. She probably would have liked it better with tofu ricotta, so thanks so much for the idea.

Anonymous said...

That looks awesome! Thanks for linking to the crust recipe. I've heard there's usually lard in traditional Chicago-style pizza crust but that recipe looks great.

jess (of Get Sconed!) said...

That is some cooking adventure, bazu. I can't say I've ever had deep dish, but I would have definitely tried a piece of that. Especially because it does *not* have 4 pounds of meat in it....

Emmy said...

Oh my gosh, this post is fabulous. Even more appropriate for me now that I'm living near Chicago. The pizza looks scrumptious and I wish I had a slice of it right now!!! YUM!!!

I do remember the Frugal Gourmet. I see a lot of his cookbooks at the library sales I go to.

Got a kick out of the hovering pizza sauce. How funny.

Hope you and Daiku have a wonderful weekend :)

Vincent Guihan said...


I grew up with deep dish pizza (I'm from Chicago originally), along with great thin crust and stuffed. When I'd bring various friends home over the years after going out in to the big wide world, all I would get were groans. I'd have to explain that getting pizza in Chicago isn't like getting it anywhere else. Chicago has a pizza for just about anybody.

I find a little corn meal in the bottom of the pan will also keep your crust nice and crisp if you want a crust with good crunch. I've found this to be a big difference between Chicago pizza and everywhere else's, and it makes the pizza a little easier to eat.

Courtney said...

I used to work at a Pizzeria Uno in high school! That is too funny--believe me, had you seen in the kitchen you would NOT have wanted to eat the pizza! Yours looks and sounds much better than anything you could ever get at Uno.

Thanks for the tip on roasting the mushrooms first--they do tend to make things soggy.


Kati said...

Oh this looks so good! I tried to post a comment earlier, but Blogger ate it up, so let's try this again...

I love Chicago style pizza! The funny thing is that I haven't eaten it since living in Chicago. As you might imagine, it's pretty much impossible to get it at a restaurant here because they tend to put cheese IN the sauce as well as ON the sauce and UNDER the sauce...well, you get the idea. I will have to try that recipe out.

I was going to tell you that you had a ghost in your kitchen, but it turns out the hovering pan was just the result of clever photography. Very funny!

mmmm pizza crust. =) Have a good weekend!

Judy said...

Wow! That pizza looks amazing.

Happy Birthday!

Anonymous said...

I love this post! I grew up a few hours from Chicago so I'm familiar with the pizza - I haven't had good deep dish since I moved to the South. In college, one of my dorm-mates was from Skokie and she brought me back a whole wheat pepper, onion and olive deep dish pizza after one of our semester breaks. It was so good. I am definitely going to have to try my hand at making my own. Thanks for the flashback to the past!

Heather said...

yum! I love me some Chicago deep dish as I too am a (former, at least for now) Chicagoan. My NYC gf makes fun of me for liking deep dish, but it's sooo good!

And Martin Yan!!! I loved Martin Yan!

Village Vegan said...

That looks GOOD, bazu. Mmm, crust. Mmmm, pizza. Seriously, if I hadn't just eaten, I think I'd be in the kitched trying to make my (first) very-own deep dish pizza. Thanks for the inspiration! I hope I'll be able to try this sometime soon.

What size is your cast-iron skillet? I hope mine is big enough!

(Isn't being vegan nice? You can eat pizza without feeling guilty about all the fat and cholesterol 4 pounds of meat and cheese has!)

Candi said...

ooh Bazu! The pizza looks great, especially the crust!! It looks the like deep dish Uno's kind I used to be addicted to. :P (So it was not only you!) Lol!

I love that hovering pan of sauce too! :P

Tofu ricotta is really good stuff! I like it better than vegan cheeses like mozzarella.

I like your tip on roasting the mushrooms first, even though your pizza crust was thick enough to not get all soggy from them!

Nice work. I like how you and Daiku team up to make some awesome foods like this!

Mikaela said...

Oh wow... it looks so decadent! Love the hovering sauce ;)

springsandwells said...

mmmm mmmmm mmmmm!
It looks so good! thanks for sharing the dough recipe, this looks like a super fun thing to try. I used to love Pizzeria Uno too. The big giant crust is so wonderful looking!! Ten cheers for crust!

Also, I love the fillings. I pretty much put tofu ricotta on everything now. I finally found a recipe for it that I love, and I make it constantly.


aTxVegn said...

That is an authentic and super looking deep dish pie, Bazu! The crust is just beautiful. I'm getting a craving....

Emmie said...

Oh... Pizza! Must.. have.. pizza.

It looks yummy!

Melody Polakow said...

Looks awesome! I love baking pizza in my cast iron pan..

I remember a great deep dish pizza as a kid.. I'll have to try this. We usually like very, very thin pizza, but I could call it something else, so my family wouldn't be expecting traditional pizza.

Anonymous said...

pizza is my weekness and this one is making my so hungry!!!

thanks for share it!

Nikk said...

I am in love with that pizza! Wow!

Crystal & Ryan - Café Cyan said... I want a deep dish pizza!!

Happy birthday too - I see the post before this one outlines your day. How fun!! Join the 28 club :)


KleoPatra said...

OHMYGOSH! That really looks great!! GREAT! Wow...

vko said...

OMG- that looks so good.
You are so good.
You are also too funny with the hovering pizza sauce.

This will be added to my list of super yummy things to make one day...