There seems to be a rather silly debate on what is “real” pizza. In America, the two major warring factions are from Chicago and New York. Both varieties are perfectly good, but the misunderstanding may come from the overall disconnect between the two environments.
In Chicago, the weather can be much more blustery and with bitter winters. This kind of environment requires heavier dishes to develop. Having grown up in the cold, Canadian prairies, I can see this being the case. Prairie pizza has a thicker crust with a greater amount of toppings. I’m sure it evolved in this way to ward off colder winter nights.
In New York, the weather can be cooler, but it has an historically closer connection to the original Neopolitan-style pizza. Thin crust, sparse toppings. Their passion may come from these ties to Italy, where only the Italian way is right.
It’s nice to have passion, but when a new style develops that contravenes the original, there will always be an underlying tension. It’s best to appreciate the evolution as a way to respect the region it came from. I’ve chosen to do a Chicago-style deep dish pizza today because it is such a fascinating method. Part pie. Part pastry. Part pizza. And 100% full flavour and heartiness.
Today’s variety is one of the classics of Chicago. The Italian sausage. I added pickled jalapenos today because I like an extra spiciness with my sausage, but they can be omitted without a problem.
Italian Sausage and Jalapeno Deep Dish Pizza
For the dough:
1 cup spelt flour (or all purpose flour)
1/3 cup oat flour (just put 1/3 cup rolled oats in a blender and grind to a fine flour)
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp dry active yeast
2 Tbsp softened butter, for Lacquering Step
In a medium bowl, combine the spelt and oat flour. Make a depression in the centre of the flour mixture. Sprinkle salt around the outer edge. Add the water and maple syrup to the centre. Sprinkle in the yeast and stir lightly. Allow the yeast to bubble for about 10 minutes. Stir the flour mixture into the yeast mixture until a soft dough forms. Tip out of the bowl on the counter and knead until smooth and no longer very sticky. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for an hour. Proceed to the sausage layer step.
For the Sausage Layer:
150g/6 oz Italian sausage meat (if in links, just squeeze out of the casing)
75mL/3 oz tomato paste (about 1/2 small can)
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped coarsely
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp salt
In a small bowl, stir together the tomato paste, water, oregano, garlic and salt.
In a medium bowl, add the sausage meat and the tomato mixture. Stir to combine. Set aside.
For the Lacquering Step:
After the dough has risen, press it out on the counter with your fingers until it is in a rough rectangle about 30cm x 24cm (12″ x 8″).
Spread 2 Tbsp of softened butter over the surface of the dough.
Fold over one third of the dough over the buttered surface.
Fold over the other third on top, then fold the rectangle into a square. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for another hour.
For the pizza:
Prepared Lacquered Dough
Prepared Sausage Layer
100g/4 oz gruyere cheese, shredded
50 g/2 oz pecorino (I used a chilli-infused pecorino, but any dry aged cheese would be fine, like Parmesan), shredded
9 slices pickled jalapenos (optional)
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F. Line a 25cm x 25 cm (9″x9″) cake pan with parchment paper and oil it lightly.
Press the square of lacquered dough in the prepared pan. Press to ease the edges of the dough up the side of the pan slightly (about 2cm/1″ up or so). Flute the edges like a pie, if you desire, like this:
Sprinkle the bottom with gruyere cheese. Spread the sausage layer over the cheese. Place the jalapeno slices evenly over the top and cover with the shredded pecorino. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Turn the oven to broil/grill and broil the top for a further 7-10 minutes. Take out of the oven and allow to set in the pan for another 10-15 minutes. Slide it out of the pan, cut into four squares and serve. Serves 2.