Saying that I’m a fan of pizza is like saying that the Grand Canyon is a hole in the ground. And I live near the Mecca of Pizza — Chicago.
Around here, everyone has a favorite type. You got your Lou Malnati’s people, your Giordano’s people, your favorite-hole-in-the-wall place where the sign is so old that you can’t read it anymore. Some transplants to the area favor thin crust, wood-fired pizza (so do my twins). Chicago: we got it all when it comes to the pie. (And if we had used that as a slogan, we might have won the rights to hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics. You never know.)
My husband, a Chicago native, is a Gino’s East man — specifically, a deep-dish-Gino’s-East-with-sausage-and-cheese-hold-the-heart-attack-pizza kind of man.
In the past few years, we’ve made a game out of trying to recreate the foods we love to eat at restaurants for a few reasons: 1) eating out can be expensive; 2) I hated eating overly-salty food (and frankly, it didn’t like me either); and 3) one of our kids has a peanut allergy which necessitates our knowing not only what’s in the food but how it was prepared. Believe me when I say that all three of those things can kill the fun of dining out. Obviously we still go out (see, Ballroom of Food), but for the most part, we try to make meals at home.
Trying to recreate my husband’s favorite pizza? Not so easy.
Thanks to Google, I found a pretty good Gino’s East pizza knock-off recipe. I’ll warn you now that it takes serious preparation — a couple of days — but it’s the nearest thing to culinary heaven you’ll taste. I waded through the different iterations (adding turmeric to the crust? Wow, that’s wrong on many levels.), and eventually arrived at this recipe, cobbled together from a few of the comments:
Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizza (Faux-no’s East Version)
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 package active dry yeast (about 2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1/3 cup corn oil
- 1 Tbl sugar
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- approximately 3 1/2 cups bread flour + some to knead with
- 3 Tbl corn meal
In a large mixing bowl, proof the yeast by adding water, yeast and bit of the sugar, allowing it to become cloudy and bubbly. (Other people skip this step, feel free to do so — I just don’t want to go through the rest of the recipe if I have dud yeast). Mix in the rest of the sugar, oil, and cream of tartar. Combine bread flour with corn meal and add to liquid mixture a little at a time until a dough forms. On a floured board or countertop, knead dough until it is firm and elastic (one commenter recommended 10 minutes of kneading and I think that’s overkill. I’m not sure I ever timed myself, but knead it well). Then roll the kneaded dough into a ball and place in a separate mixing bowl greased with olive oil on the bottom and sides. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rest on the counter for a few hours. (Some folks recommended leaving it on the counter overnight — but I’m afraid it would rise up and take over the kitchen). Place covered bowl in refrigerator overnight.
The next day, take dough out of the refrigerator and allow it to warm up on your counter. Prep the deep dish pan you want to use by greasing it with corn oil (Gino’s uses these steel pans, but we have a stone deep dish pan. I think you might be able to use cake pans in a pinch — might need two of them, though). Press dough into the pan and cover with a layer of mozzarella cheese slices.
Time to make the sauce (or you can always use ready-made sauce to save time). If you can find it, get a 28 oz can of 6-in-1 tomatoes. If you can’t find those, you can use a 28 oz can of plum tomatoes and mash them up into little bits. Then add salt, basil, oregano and black pepper (all to taste, really). Mix it up.
Add your other ingredients on top of the cheese — sausage, olives, green peppers, whatever floats your boat. Then spread the tomato sauce on top of that layer (that’s how they do it in Chicago) and sprinkle a bit of parmesan cheese on top. Bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.
Then fight your husband and children to get a piece.