Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Return of Deep Dish Pizza


We've all been a little enamoured with Neapolitans and grilled pies. I admit my complicity in this affair, and now I am feeling a little guilty at how quickly I tossed aside my first loves just to be seen with the thin, attractive, and popular kids.

It was probably back in junior high that the bulkier tarts first caught my eye. Rocky Rococo's Pan Style Pizza opened at the mall and we stood in line for what seemed like hours to order a funny wet slice steaming in a shiny square box. That steam worked to carry the heavenly aroma of dough, sauce, and toppings to our greedy noses while we waited. (Rocky, the creepy rather unappetizing spokesmodel for the joint, reminded me of Father Guido Sarducci, but I didn't let him hinder my growing addiction to the pizza.)

Our high school choir toured in Chicago and we experienced authentic deep-dish. Never one to make easy choices when picking ingredients, thick dough allowed me to order an "everything" pizza without compromising individual flavors or losing the bread to her zaftig components.

In college I worked at St. Anthony Main's American Pie Pizzeria. We served Chicago-style; heavy and loaded with flavor. I left every shift with a line of olive oil across my belly where I made contact with the prep board. For the first few weeks I had recurring dreams of floating in tubs of pepperoni.

When it comes to pizza I fall quickly and become a clingy lover. But I always leave a little wiggle room just in case another pie or slice wants to join us at the table. I guess that makes me the Bill Hendrickson of pizza polygamy. This year I want to give (most) of my attention to first wife: Detroit or Chicago-Style, pan and deep dish. Although I'll probably always find time for a pretty little grilled companion.

Detroit-Style Pizza Crust
1 cup warm water
1 package yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup coarse corn meal
3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for oiling boil

Stir yeast and sugar into water; set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Use blade to process corn meal, flour, and salt for 1 minute. While processing, pour yeast mixture and oil into flour. Continue processing until very wet dough forms into a ball. Remove dough and place in well oiled bowl. Cover with clean towel or plastic wrap and rise to double, about 1 and a half hours.

Pie assembly:
Generously butter the bottoms and sides of 4 non-stick bread pans.

Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Push one portion into each prepared bread pan leaving a slight edge along the sides. Place thin rounds of provolone or mozzarella cheese to cover crust surface except for edge before topping with sauce and ingredients.

Bake completed pies in preheated 400 degree oven for 25 to 35 minutes.



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