In honor of Pi Day, Greta is baking one of our favorite Chicago-style pizzas. This is our reconstruction of the pizza we ate as undergraduates at the University of Chicago. We spent a lot of time hanging out at a pizza place that would later become famous as one of Barack Obama’s favorite haunts: Medici on 57th. They had their own style of pizza — not stuffed, but definitely deep.
After we moved to New York for graduate school, we missed that great Medici deep-dish taste, and we tried repeatedly to reconstruct the recipe. After about five years, we thought we’d gotten pretty close, and the basic recipe has stayed pretty much the same for the last decade and a half. Our toppings, however, have continued to evolve. The pizza we’re making tonight has been in our repertoire for about five years; it was invented by Nora and is called the Dark Forest.
Here are the ingredients:
3/4 cup warm water
1 packet of yeast
1 tablespoon honey
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 14.5-oz can of crushed or diced tomatoes
2-3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound of mixed mushrooms (we use shitake, cremini, and button)
1 bunch asparagus
2 pounds grated part-skim mozzarella
1/4 pound provolone, grated or sliced
Olive oil, salt, and pepper
Here is everything you need for the dough (yes, the wine is important):
Add the warm water, yeast, and honey to a mixer bowl, and wait 5-10 minutes. Then add 2 cups of the flour, and mix. It will be sloppy, like this:
Keep going, it’s going to be sloppy:
After a couple minutes, the flour is incorporated, and it’s a messy dough, oozing off the hook, so Greta adds a little more flour:
Knead with the dough hook for five minutes, until it’s nice ball, like this. You might need to add more flour, depending on the weather.
You know it’s done when it’s a smooth elastic dough and you can tell because when you poke it, it feels smooth:
And the dimple your finger makes stays in the dough:
Then coat in olive oil and cover with a cloth and put it in a warm place:
The dough will take about an hour to double in size.
Meanwhile, start preparing the ingredients. Here’s Nora showing off our fresh mushrooms and asparagus:
And here’s Dave chopping everything up. You want all the pieces to be about the same size:
You’ll want to put a pizza stone in the oven at this point and preheat to 450°F.
The mushrooms were coated in olive oil and put on a baking sheet under the broiler for about 15 minutes. Dave tossed them every five minutes or so with tongs.
Cut the bottom 3 or 4 inches off the asparagus and place them in a baking dish. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake at 350° F for about 20 minutes. Toss halfway through.
Dice the onion and saute at high heat in olive oil for about 10 minutes, until browned.
Here are all the toppings after they’ve been cooked:
Next it’s time to get started on the sauce. Here’s everything you need:
You can just mix everything right in the can: crush the garlic, add oregano and crushed red pepper, and stir with a spoon.
Now, an hour later the dough has risen. It’s roughly double the size it was after we kneaded it:
The biggest thing we figured out about making deep dish pizza is that you have to roll the dough. Recipes tell you that you can just pat it into the corners of the pan, and they lie.
Roll it out out until it’s about 2 inches wider than your pan on each side:
Liberally oil the deep-dish pan, and put the rolled-out dough on top. Make sure you place the dough all the way into the corners of the pan (we use a 14-inch deep-dish pan).
Add the sauce!
Add the toppings!
Add the mozzarella! Yes, all of it. It’s an awesome sight.
Add the provolone to the top. Drizzle with olive oil. Trim the extra dough off of the edge of the pan:
Place in the oven!
After about 15 minutes, check on the pizza. It probably won’t be done. After another 5 minutes, check again. It will look like this, and it’s done!
Nora was absolutely starving, so we served her the first piece:
Here’s the finished pizza, minus Nora’s slice:
It’s 8:55, and Greta and I have finished our first pieces of pizza. Fantastic! We may need to rename this pizza: the Barack-Obama-Wishes-He-Had-A-Dark-Forest Pizza!