Deep 'Za

Do not stand between me and a craving. Ever. The other day it was deep dish pizza. I've had both kinds of Chicago deep dish pizza (in Chicago!). The first - the stereotypical kind which consists of at the very minimum a two inch layer of mozzarella topped with a one inch layer of sauce. Cut into it right out of the oven and you will have cheese lava on your table. To me, this is best eaten at room temp or cold the next morning. It's tasty, but it's like ordering a 'Philly Cheese Steak' at a random pizzeria in Florida when what you should really have is a 'Cheese Steak' from Cosmi's, a tiny unassuming deli in deep South Philly.

The second deep dish pizza is the one you spend waiting an hour for a table for, even possibly standing in vehicular traffic because the sidewalk is too crowded with people waiting for the same table you are. It's from Pizano's which I've already mentioned. What to do when you can't head to Chicago on a whim for a pizza craving (and a visit with my Godson!)? Get out the Google and slice some mozzarella.

I had tried to recreate it before. I used my standard pizza dough recipe in my deep dish clay baker, pre-baked the crust, added sliced mozz and some toppings. It was OK. The crust was all wrong. You can't have a crispy/chewy crust with mile high toppings. My latest research revealed some cornmeal in the crust. It made sense to me. Cornmeal would retain crunch but minimize chew. I decided to replace 25% of the flour with cornmeal and set out to make the dough. Every time I make pizza dough I recall how I LOVE to make dough and don't make it often enough.

After it rose for a little over an hour, I oiled the clay baker, set up the dough and baked it. If you put the toppings on raw dough, you will get raw dough under cooked toppings in your finished product. While it was baking I sliced the mozz, sauteed mushrooms with some onion, spread on some crushed tomatoes (the sauce cooks along with the pizza), sprinkled it with oregano and some thick slices of Sicilian pepperoni which would self-fry in the oven and become little pepperoni crackings by the time it was cooked. All baking is done at 500 degrees, don't be shy about oven temp! After 20 minutes of cooking and 10 minutes of resting (this is crucial and hard to resist) the feasting begins.

The dough recipe will yield leftover dough. If I was thinking ahead I would have popped it into the freezer for deep dish pizza on demand in the future, but I spread it out and topped it with some of the leftover sauteed mushrooms and Asiago cheese so we had a little appetizer while the pizza was cooling.

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