Monday, January 19, 2009

Deep-Dish Sausage Pizza

There will always be the battle between NYC and Chicago- Who's pizza reigns supreme? The truth is that their styles are so different that I find them incomparable. In fact, I love them both. Sometimes I'm in the mood for something thin and crispy and other times (usually in the winter months) I am looking for something more comforting with lots and lots of gooey cheese.

I've lived in NYC and Chicago and both cities have really honed their craft. Lou Malnati's in Chicago and John's of Bleecker Street in NYC are local institutions that are not to be messed with. They are quite serious about their pies. In fact, if you're craving for deep-dish gets out of control you can order it to be delivered in the mail and pop it in the oven at home anywhere in the country. That means that I can enjoy my favorite Lou's pie (spinach and cheese) in my San Francisco living room!

Pizza is great but fresh pizza is amazing. If you have the time, tackle this recipe at home and make your very own deep dish. Sausage is just a suggestion in this case. You can sub in and out as you see fit.

Deep-Dish Sausage Pizza
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (110° - 115°F.)
  • a 1/4-ounce package (2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus additional for oiling bowl
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, casings discarded
  • a 14- to 16-ounce can peeled whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • 2 cups grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese (about 1/2 pound)

Make dough:
In a large bowl dissolve sugar in water. Sprinkle yeast over water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2 1/4 cups flour, cornmeal, salt, and 2 tablespoons oil and blend until mixture forms a dough. Knead dough on a floured surface, incorporating as much of remaining 1/4 cup flour as necessary to prevent dough from sticking, until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.

(Alternatively, dough may be made in a food processor. Proof yeast as described above. In the food processor process yeast mixture with 2 1/4 cups flour, cornmeal, salt, and 2 tablespoons oil until mixture forms a ball, adding more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, if too dry or some of remaining 1/4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, if too wet, and knead dough by processing it 15 seconds more.)

Put dough, prepared by either method, in a deep oiled bowl and turn to coat with oil. Let dough rise, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.

While dough is rising, in a heavy skillet cook sausage over moderately high heat, breaking up lumps, until no longer pink and stir in tomatoes, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer sausage mixture to paper towels to drain and cool.

Preheat oven to 500°F.

Punch down dough and knead 4 times. In an oiled 10 1/2-inch cast-iron skillet, press dough with oiled finger until it comes 2 inches up the side and is an even thickness on bottom. Let dough rise, covered loosely with plastic wrap, in a warm place 15 minutes.

Sprinkle dough with half of mozzarella and top with sausage mixture and remaining cheese. Bake pizza in lower third of an electric oven or on floor of a gas oven for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400°F. and bake 10 minutes more, or until crust is golden.



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