Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Chicago Style Pizza

I'm not a big fan of run-of-the-mill pizza, and sadly, there's a lot of that to be had here in San Francisco. Bready crusts topped with heaps of pre-grated mozzarella cheese and flavorless vegetables, sauce so thin it soaks right into the already soggy crust- this is common fare here. Surprising, isn't it? With such a large Italian contingent in our famous North Beach neighborhood situated just miles from California's central valley farms and only blocks from local farmer's markets, you'd think we'd be brimming over with perfectly crisp discs topped with pungeant tomato sauce, handmade thick-sliced pepperoni, and full-flavored veggies covered with slices of melted Bufala mozzarella and a sprinkling of fresh basil and oregano. Tourists would clamour to taste the quintessential San Francisco pizza. Unfortunately, this is all a fantasy, for we are not known for our pizza. Yes there is California Pizza, but it is a Southern California creation. And eating pizza is not on an LA tourist's itinerary. Not like it is in New York or Chicago.

On my recent trip to the windy city, I had the pleasure of eating at Giordano's...twice. Owned by two Italian brothers and named for their mother whose recipe is the base for their famous pie, Giordano's is considered Chicago's best deep dish pizza.

Since moving away from the midwest, I'd avoided pizza altogether after being repeatedly disappointed and even grossed out by the greasey, heavy pizza found in and around San Francisco. That is, until some friends of ours brought Lou and me to Zachary's in Berkeley. I'd had forgotten about Chicago deep dish pizza and this was as good a copy of the real thing as any. I wondered why I had not just made my own deep dish pizza or any pizza for that matter, and so the trials began and here is my best Chicago style pizza recipe (so far)...

Chicago Style Pizza
Makes one 14 inch deep dish pizza
special equipment needed: 14 inch deep dish pizza pan

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups luke warm water
4 cups unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup milk

1 1/2 pounds grated mozzarella
4 crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 pound Italian sausage, browned and drained
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons basil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Parmesan for topping.

To make the crust, mix yeast with 1/2 cup warm water. When the yeast is dissolved, add 2 cups flour and combine. Then add 1/2 cup water, the sugar, salt, olive oil and milk. When smooth, add the rest of the water and flour. Then, either knead with the dough hook for 5 minutes or by hand for 10 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 3 hours. If you would like to use the dough after work, make it the night before, then place the dough in the oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator over night. In the morning or at lunch, remove the bowl from the refrigerator and allow it to rise. The dough will be ready to use when you get home from work.

To make the sauce, saute the minced garlic in the olive oil (do not brown) for about 30 seconds, then add the remaining ingredients for the sauce and simmer for 30 minutes or until thick and deep red in color.

Take 2/3 of the dough and roll it into a circle, then place it in the pizza pan with dough going up the sides and just over the edge of the pan. Fill the crust with 1/2 the grated cheese, then add the mushroon slices, Italian sausage, onions, and green peppers. Top with the remaining cheese. Roll out the remaining 1/3 of the dough and place it on top of the pizza stretchcing it to the edges and crimping the edges of the dough to seal the fillings in. Poke small slits in the top crust with a sharp knife to allow the steam to escape and prevent the top crust from inflating and bubbling up while baking. Then spread the tomato sauce over the top crust and sprinkle with fresh parmesan if you like. Bake the pie at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes.

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