When I travel I always strive to eat “local.” I don’t entertain the idea of eating at a chain restaurant unless it’s a really good one we don’t have around here.
But typically, I want to dine on what the locals eat, and hopefully something that is considered a regional cuisine made up of seasonal ingredients from that area. But there are those times when a famous dish, regardless of everything else, has to be on my list — such as deep-dish pizza when I’m in Chicago.
I usually go for thin crust pizza, but who could deny eating a cheesy, gooey thick slice of deep,dish pizza? We always hear that pizza gained its fame in the U.S., but this particular Italian dish was made famous in Italy.
The tradition carried on when a couple of brothers moved to Chicago to start a new life for themselves. So they did what they knew best — they made deep-dish pizza. Their mother handed down the family secrets and soon Chicago had a new craze.
One particular establishment is known not only for deep-dish, but for “stuffed” crust deep-dish pizza. When my husband and I need a nice reminder of a recent trip to the windy city, I’ll pull out my pizza crust recipe and double it; I’ll buy lots of cheese and make a little sauce, then add our favorite toppings to the mix.
And I find a cast iron skillet is the perfect vessel to bake it in.
Deep dish pizza takes a little longer to bake than regular pizza, but it’s worth the wait. Other than that, it is basically like making any other homemade pizza. Enjoy a slice of Chicago, and enjoy food made fresh!
Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Stuffed Pizza
Homemade or store-bought pizza dough for two 12-inch crusts
2 tablespoons olive oil
Flour for countertop and rolling pin
1/2 cup homemade or store-bought pizza sauce
3 cups grated hard mozzarella cheese
Desired toppings such as pepperoni, olives, and peppers
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of a cast iron skillet or baking dish of comparable size with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Place half of the dough into the prepared skillet or pan. Press to form a thin layer of dough covering the bottom and up the sides of skillet/pan.
Spoon on half of the pizza sauce, spreading it evenly over the dough with the back of the spoon in a circular motion. Sprinkle 2 cups of grated cheese evenly over the sauce. Note: At this point you can stuff the pizza with a layer of other desired toppings or just leave as a cheese layer.
Roll out second layer of dough on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin to approximately 12 inches. Place the dough into the skillet/pan over the first layer of dough, sauce, and cheese.
Spoon on the remaining sauce, spreading it evenly over the dough with the back of the spoon in a circular motion. Evenly sprinkle the remaining 1 cup cheese over the sauce. Add toppings such as pepperoni, olives and peppers.
Pinch the top edges of the 2 layers of dough together. Brush the exposed dough with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Bake for approximately 45 minutes until cheese is bubbly and crust is golden brown. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting. One slice is equal to eating 2 slices of regular pizza.
ANGELINA LARUE is a food writer, recipe developer and author of “The Whole Enchilada Fresh and Nutritious Southwestern Cuisine.”