Windy city, ha! Chicago’s got nothing on Portage and Main! I’ve been in Chicago, briefly. Was it breezy? A little, but that didn’t stop me from getting around. I walked through many plazas and took in many sights, eventually strolling around an old boat yard that is now an 11-acre townhouse development.
I’d heard great things about “Deep Dish Chicago Pizza” and since my instincts are always in line with that old injunction, “When in Rome . . .” I found myself a restaurant with little outdoor tables, and gave the waiter who soon appeared my deep dish Chicago pizza order.
The pizza arrived at my table, but I wasn’t ready for the food that was put in front of me. As deep a pizza as I have ever seen! The aroma tickled my nose; the colours danced before my eyes. Could I manage all this? To be honest, I couldn’t and didn’t. But I carry the image of that pizza in memory still.
Here’s my take on how to make a truly decadent and artery-clogging pizza, the Chicago way.
1 ½ cups chopped pancetta
2 cups chopped red onions
2 cups chopped white onions
3 cups roma tomatoes
5 cups fresh mozzarella cheese
1 cup sweet tomatoes
1 can chopped anchovies
4 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves chopped garlic
¼ cup red wine
2 teaspoons oregano
½ cup black truffles
½ cup fresh grated pecorino cheese
¼ cup chopped basil
Pinch salt and pepper
8 fresh basil leaves
1 ½ pounds fresh pizza dough
Start with your sauce. Place a large pan on the stove on a high heat. When heated, pour in the olive oil and add garlic and one cup each of red and white chopped onions. Cook until onions are translucent. Add 2 cups of chopped roma tomatoes, red wine, 1/4 cup chopped basil, oregano and salt and pepper. Reduce heat and leave to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until juice is reduced.
Roll out the prepared pizza dough until it is approximately ¼-inch deep. Line the inside of a 12-inch, spring-form pan with the dough, and press firmly around the edges and sides.
Now, for the good part! Begin layering the bottom of the pan with mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, truffles, slices of fresh tomatoes, pancetta, onions, anchovies and herbs. Repeat this process until all ingredients have been used, aside from the pecorino cheese which you will grate over the completed dish. Top the dish off with fresh basil to give it that just finished look.
Heat the oven to 425°F. Place a pizza stone in the oven to ensure it is well heated. Once the oven has reached the desired temperature, place your pizza on the stone in the oven. Cook for a minimum of 45 minutes and check every five minutes thereafter. The trick here is to ensure the base of the pizza is cooked. Once you are satisfied, remove the pizza from the oven and let it stand for five minutes. Open up your spring-form pan, and dig in . . .
I usually have this with friends because I know I can’t eat it on my own. Sometimes, I even have garlic bread, just because. Enjoy folks!