Tuesday, August 16, 2011

August's Pizza del Mese: Chili Deep-Dish Pizza

You know when you try out a new recipe and the resultant dish isn't anything amazing in and of itself, but something about it opens up a world of possibilities? That's what happened when I made Chili Deep-Dish Pizza. I'm not in love with the Chili Deep-Dish Pizza, but I am in love with Deep-Dish Pizza and the fact I can successfully make it at home. As my official taste tester and I were eating, we kept interrupting one another with different ideas for toppings. This kind of revelation is the reason I love cookbooks by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough.

When I was waiting to pick up a deep dish pizza at our local Chicago-style pizza place, Tony's, I read an old interview with Tony. He explained why the tomatoes are on top of the toppings in a deep dish pizza. To cook the thick crust completely, the pizza has to remain in a very hot oven for a relatively long time (Tony bakes his pies for 45 minutes). The tomatoes on top prevent the underlying toppings from drying out during the long baking time. So if you've recently canned 60 pounds of San Marzano plum tomatoes, consider using some to top a deep dish pizza.
Chili Deep-Dish Pizza adapted from Pizza: Grill It, Bake It, Love It! by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough
  • Vegetable oil to grease a 10-inch springform pan
  • One recipe Classic Pizza Dough (see recipe in January's Pizza del Mese)
  • 1 T vegetable oil, plus additional for greasing the pan
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 medium green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 8 oz. (1/2 pound) lean ground beef
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 2 t ground cumin
  • 1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes (Both the juice and the tomatoes are used, but at separate points in the recipe, so don't discard the juice when draining the tomatoes.)
  • 3 oz. mozzarella, shredded
  • 3 oz. monterey jack, shredded
  • 3 oz. queso blanco, crumbled
  • Position the rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450.
  • Apply a thin coating of vegetable oil to the 10-inch springform pan. Press the dough into the pan, stretching the dough across the pan's bottom and then pulling the dough a bit up the sides, about 1 inch. Cover with a clean kitchen towel.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes.
  • Crumble in the ground beef; cook, stirring often, until well browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the chili powder and cumin, then pour in the juice from the canned tomatoes. Cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid in the pan has turned into a thick, glazelike sauce, 2 to 4 minutes. Set aside.
  • Remove the towel and re-press the dough so that it forms an edge up the in­ side of the pan about 1 inch high. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella and jack evenly over the inside of the crust.
  • Top with the ground-beef mixture, then sprinkle the canned diced tomatoes
    evenly over the pizza. Finally, top with the crumbled queso bianco.
  • Place the pie in the oven on the middle rack. Check it about every three minutes for the first nine minutes to pop any air bubbles that may blow up at its edge. Bake until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbling and a little thick, about 30 minutes.
  • Transfer the pizza pan to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Open the springform and remove the pie from the pan, transferring it directly to the wire rack to cool for another 5 minutes, then cut into wedges to serve.
Previous Pizza del Mese:

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