Deep Dish Pizza
The group of desks I sit at can sometimes get heated. When you have a Frenchman, a Northlander, a Chicagoan, a Chinese Kiwi, a Hamiltonian and a Westie all within arguing distance there can be some pretty steep opinion gradients. But we found one thing we can agree on. Paul mentioned his native city Chicago’s signature food, deep dish pizza, and after initially asking if he was sure it wasn’t deep fried, we did some googling and our eyes glazed over.
Can you put that much cheese on a pizza? There didn’t seem to be any reason why not but yet it still seemed somehow illegal. Or at least nutritionally irresponsible. And the ratio’s seemed all off. Instead of a bubbly, crispy base, a smearing of tomato sauce and some sparse toppings that seem to be the hallmark of good pizza to all our knowledge, this pizza seemed to be designed for someone who preferred the stuff that sticks to the top of the box rather than the actual pizza.
Well, as luck would have it Jed, the Northlander, had been experimenting with fresh mozzarella, I had been honing my pizza dough skills and Paul’s partner Allison had the sauce recipe “just like momma used to make.” Seems like the powers that be wanted us to take a break from collaborating on refrigeration systems and make this beautiful monstrosity. And we could all agree, it was terrific.
3 cups all purpose flour
½ cup yellow cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp white sugar
3 tsp active dry yeast (or equivalent instant active yeast for this amount of flour)
1 ¼ cups luke-warm water
¼ cup butter, melted
1 small onion, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 red capsicum (bell pepper), diced
½ cup red wine
800g diced tomatoes (2 standard cans)
1 tbsp brown sugar
Handful of basil leaves, chopped
2 good quality pork sausages
2 tbsp grated parmesan to sprinkle
1. Activate the yeast by adding it to the warm water and leaving to sit for 5 minutes (not necessary for instant yeast). Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add yeast water and butter and combine gently (low speed if using a mixer). Once a cohesive dough is formed, turn out onto a floured bench and knead for 20 minutes or until it becomes smooth and you can see light through the dough when stretched into a window. If using a mixer, this will only take around 10 minutes.
2. Return dough to bowl and cover with cling film, leave in a warm environment to rise for 3 hours, or overnight in the refrigerator.
3. Make the sauce, fry the onions in the oil until translucent, and add the garlic, oregano and capsicum and fry for another 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients (apart from the basil) and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir through the basil and set aside.
4. Slice and fry the sausages, set aside.
5. Knock excess gas out of dough and turn out onto a floured bench. Separate into 2 pieces using a dough scraper or knife and roll each into a 30cm/12 inch circle.
6. Grease two 9 inch baking tins and lay dough into each, trimming any excess that is above the edge of the tin.
7. To each base add a ½ inch layer of mozzarella, half of the sausage and top with half the sauce. There should be room for the dough to rise a bit so don’t fill to the brim of the pan. Sprinkle with parmesan.
8. Bake for 10 minutes at 220°C/425°F then turn down to 160°C/320°F and bake for an additional 50 minutes. I use pastry bake for an extra crispy crust but use bake if your oven doesn't have this function. If the top is browned sufficiently before the time is up, cover with foil and continue baking.
9. Remove from oven, rest in pan for 5 minutes, slice and serve.