Friday, May 22, 2009

Dishing on Deep Dish

Yep. It's another post about pizza.

I've been craving deep dish pizza for a couple of weeks but there's just no place to get it that I know of anymore. We used to have Uno, but it went away years ago, and Green Mill was always pretty good up until a couple of years ago when they cheapified their dough and ingredients so far that it totally crossed the line for me and we stopped going. They were never the same once they expanded their menu to all sorts of dishes that a pizza place has no business messing with.

Anyway, I was thinking out loud about this last night to Boy. In bed. Because as I've told you before, food is our pillowtalk.
And I said "but I've got to find some sort of pan like they used at Green Mill so I can get the crust right. Like cast iron or something."
Because I used to do a wicked deep dish spinach and mushroom years ago but in a flimsy aluminium deep dish pan and the crust always came out anemic and not crusty even when the top was over browned. And that always made it not so good for me, which sucked, because it's a lot about the crust. It needs to be a crusty, chewy crust.
And then Boy says: "You should use one of your puffy pancake pans."
Translation: Boyspeak for the cast iron skillets I use to bake dutch babies for breakfast.

me: "AHHA! That is a fabulous idea! Like, duh. I'm SO totally doing that, like tomorrow"

So cast iron skillet baked deep dish pizza for dinner it was.
And I come to you having just consumed most of said pie, with the help of Boy. And I can tell you that it was a fabulous thing, especially considering I totally punted and used the same pizza dough I use for thin crust, just more of it. And as I said, it's a lot about the crust.
All told, it was WAY closer to what I was hoping to achieve than I had been expecting, actually. Especially what with it being my first attempt and all.

For the guts part, I went with Italian sausage, onion and mushroom, minus the mushroom for Boy. And since it was deep dish, the order of operations was crust then cheese, then toppings and grated parm, then lots and lots of unadulterated diced canned tomatoes with a generous sprinkling of chopped garlic, dried oregano and basil added.

Here's the in-progress:
cast iron deep dish in the making
cast iron deep dish ready for the oven

And the finished product:
cast iron deep dish pizza done
cast iron deep dish, ready to eat

Baking it in the cast iron skillet made the crust perfectly brown and crusty on the outside and chewy and pillowy on inside just like I was hoping for. I used a full batch of dough but in hindsight, I should have stuck to my gut on that one and only used 3/4 of the batch because it got a little thick on the sides. I was having a hard time getting it to stay stretched up the sides of the pan, so next time I'm going to stretch it up and over the edge just a bit while I add the fillings and then sort of tuck it back down once it's ready to go in the oven.

Anyway, here's the unofficial recipe:

Cast Iron Deep Dish Pizza

Splatgirl's part whole-wheat pizza dough (recipe for a double batch of dough can be found in the comments of this post. Portion it into eight balls, use three for this recipe and freeze the rest individually in ziplock bags)
1 lb. Italian sausage, cooked, drained and cooled
1/2lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced and sauteed
1/2 medium onion, diced
8oz. grated or sliced mozzarella cheese
3 large cloves chopped garlic
1 1lb 12oz can diced tomatoes with basil or fire roasted (I like Muir Glen brand for any canned tomato product)
grated parmesan
2tsp. dried oregano
2tsp. dried basil

Equipment: 14" cast iron skillet, or two 7-8" size for individual pies.
Preheat oven to 350.

If your skillet is well-seasoned, oil it. If it doesn't have 20 years of use on it, grease it with shortening. Stretch the dough by hand until you have a large disk, then lay it into the pan, continuing to flatten and pull evenly into shape and up the sides of the pan. Let it sit for a few minutes to relax if you're not getting it to cooperate all in one shot. You want to be able to drape it over the edge of the pan just a bit to keep it in place while you add fillings.
Add mozzarella, then the cooked sausage, diced onion and sauteed mushroom. Grate on a generous sprinkling of parmesan. Spoon tomatoes over, covering the filling but not the edges of the dough. Add chopped garlic, basil and oregano and run the back of your spoon over everything to settle and cover the garlic and herbs. Tuck the edges of the crust back inside the pan if necessary.
Bake in a 350 oven for an hour or until crust is nicely browned and topping is starting to bubble a bit in the center. Let sit a few minutes before cutting and serving.

Of course you can change up the fillings to suit. I'm going for sausage/spinach/mushroom next time, possibly with goat cheese.


Wow, that looks incredible! Love some of your new bags!
Oh, this is perfect - my husband has been craving deep-dish and there's nowhere by us to get it.

One clarification -- do you make a double batch of the pizza dough, or a single batch? thanks!
Hi Ann
I make the recipe as I posted it which yields a double batch. I divide that double batch into eight balls and recommend you use three for a pizza this size.
Freeze the rest, and trust me when I say you'll have no problem using them up since they work great for focaccia and regular thin crust pizza, too.
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