Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chicago-Style Stuffed Spinach Pizza

One of the many things I miss about living in Chicago is the pizza. I think one of the requirements to be a Chicagoen is to love the buttery crust, gooey cheese, abundance of delicious fillers (sausage, spinach, pepperoni, peppers, mushrooms, etc.) and chunky tomato sauce (always on top!) that makes up the deep dish pizza that Chicago is known for serving.
My favorite place to get it is Lou Malnati's, and when I go back home I try to get it as much as possible, because Southern Ohio certainly cannot produce deep-dish pizza. Which means it came to this: I had to finally pull out the long recipe for Chicago Deep Dish Pizza that I had copied a couple years ago.

I don't know if I ever really intended to make it myself- I figured I'd probably always live in the Chicago area and wouldn't need to make my own, but God stepped in and next thing I knew I was in Portsmouth where only thin crust pizzas were provided.

A fair warning: this recipe takes time. The dough is very sticky and hard to shape and form into the pan. It takes time to make the pizza sauce and prepare the filling. BUT- it is totally, 100%, worth it in the end. This is awesome pizza.

It isn't Lou Malnati's, or Giordanos, or Unos, but for a girl who misses one of her favorite comfort foods- it does the job perfectly.

Sadly, I do not know where I got this recipe from. Just trust me when I say it's good!

2 envelopes (1/4 oz. each) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups warm water (105-115 degrees F)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4-6 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes with puree
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1/4 teaspoon salt1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
3 packages (10 oz. each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup Romano cheese2 minced garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. Crust- Dissolve yeast and sugar in water in a large bowl; set aside to stand until bubbly, about 5 minutes. Stir in oil Stir in four cups of flour and salt til smooth. Stir in remaining flour as needed until a stiff dough forms. Knead on lightly floured work surface until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Put dough into a greased bowl, and turn to coat the top. Let rise, covered, in a warm place until it doubles in volume, about 1 hour.
2. Sauce- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook two minutes. Stir in tomatoes, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Simmer, stirring often, until very thick, about 30 minutes.

3. Filling- Set aside 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Squeeze as much water out of the spinach as you can. Mix the spinach with the remaining filling ingredients in a large bowl. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
4. Punch down the dough and let it rest 10 minutes. Roll 2/3 of the dough into a 16-inch circle. Fit the dough into a lightly oiled 14-inch pizza pan, at least two inches deep. Let the dough overhang the edges of the pan.

5. Sprinkle the reserved 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese over the bottom crust. Spoon the spinach filling into the center of the crust, and smooth it to evenly cover the surface. Roll the remaining dough into a 14-inch circle. Place the dough over the filling. Crimp the edges of the top and bottom crusts together; trim off excess dough. Pour the sauce over the top crust.

6. Bake until sides of pizza are nicely golden and the top crust is firm, 30-40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.
*Serves 6-8 people.

Notes: I did not have a pizza pan. I used a 8 1/2 inch spring form pan. This worked wonderfully. I worked the dough up the sides of the pan to form the crust. What was nice about this was that once I was done baking (I baked it 30 minutes), I could release the spring form pan side, and easily slide the pizza onto the cutting board. If you have a pizza pan, go ahead and use that, but I preferred the spring form.

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