Deep. Dish. Pizza.

Let me tell you about the world’s greatest pizza. This little town in Illinois came up with it. It might be their only claim to fame. (Might be.)

Here at Dad Loves Dessert, we’ve been training for a long hike we have planned on our next vacation. 19.4 kilometers (just over 12 miles). When you spend most of the daylight hours in your Sunday hiking up and down mountains for practice, you convince yourself that you deserve a treat. A carrot at the end of the hike, if you will.

But WAY less healthy.

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Okay, so I wasn’t just hiking for the pizza.

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Well. Mostly for the pizza.

This pizza was so good, I’ve run out of other things to say.

Making it was not any harder than making a regular pizza, though it does take longer. The dough does have to rise (unlike my tricksy no-rise pizza recipes), and it takes about 45 minutes to bake.

But it is SO worth it.

I used my KitchenAid with the dough hook for this recipe. The crust includes softened butter, which is just easier to knead in with a machine.

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Once the dough starts coming together, I tossed the butter into the mixer and let it knead everything together for 10ish minutes.

Conveniently, this gave me the opportunity to prep the fillings – browning spicy turkey sausage (you know, healthy choices), making the tomato sauce, shredding the mozzarella.

Once the dough came together – it’s a sticky dough – I set it aside to rise for about an hour.

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Once this little ball is about twice the size, you’re ready to go.

Punch that dough down and get ready to stretch it.

Since this is a deep dish, you need, you know, a deep dish in which to cook it. I used my cast iron skillet, and it worked wonderfully. Coat that bad boy in olive oil and start stretching the dough in the skillet.

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When you have the dough about coating the bottom of the pan, stop. Cover it and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Then you can continue to stretch it up the sides of the pan.

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It may not stay up completely, but that’s okay. When you start to layer in the filling, it will stay up just fine.

Now, the filling part is important. It’s just not a Chicago deep dish unless you layer cheese, meat, sauce. No other combinations of that order will be accepted. Cheese first, meat next, chunky tomato sauce on top.

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Sprinkle some red pepper flakes on there and you’re golden.

Bake this at 375 for 45 minutes, or until the crust is browned.

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A thing of beauty.

Let it rest for 10 minutes or as long as you can hold out. I did not make it 10 minutes. Top with grated parmesan cheese, slice it up and serve.

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And yes, I served it with a salad. Remember how this is a healthy meal?

Deep Dish Pizza

Pulled Pork Pizza

Shhhh, quiet. It has not been more than a month since I last posted. February cannot have gone by that quickly. It’s clearly February 3 and we’re headed to New Orleans for the weekend.

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Oh wait, we already did NO.

We also ran a half marathon and I hit the road twice for work. And had family in town for a weekend. And fixed a leaky toilet. Excuses, I know.

In any case, I swear I did not wait six weeks to use the masses of leftover pulled pork for this pizza recipe. I made it right away, and just waited that long to share.

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One of my favorite things about this pizza dough is that it doesn’t need to rise. So much faster.

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And it shapes nicely into this vaguely square crust. I’m terrible at stretching pizza dough, this was the best I could do (at least it wasn’t just a blob, I suppose).

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Look at that delicious porky pizza.

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This was seriously so good, I wish I had another batch of pulled pork right now. Alas.

 

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Browned Butter Baked Potato Pizza

Thanksgiving week was gorgeous. Six perfect, sunny 65-ish degree days in a row. And then Monday came. Overcast, rainy, 25 degrees colder. Eww. Definitely called for some comfort food.

Last night, I put a few potatoes in the oven for baked potato soup, a family favorite. Then I went to the gym. Then I wanted pizza. Go figure.

How do you avoid wasting already baking potatoes when you no longer want soup and only care about how you can get your mitts around a piece of delicious pizza? Well. No rules about what you put on your pizza… drop the potatoes on there, call it a day.

Now, when you decide at 8 p.m. that you want to eat pizza for dinner, you can’t exactly make the greatest crust in the world. So instead of the greatest crust, I made the fastest – it doesn’t need to rise, so instead of being ready in 1.5 hours, it can be ready to top in about 20 minutes. Perfect!

Start with four medium sized potatoes – I used two mediums, two smalls and one large. If only potatoes came in standard sizes.

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Poke a few vents in each potato with a fork or a knife and stick them in a 350 degree oven for about an hour. You can wash them first, but since I planned to throw the skins away, I skipped that step. Oops.

While the potatoes are baking, go to the gym and change your mind about what you want to make for dinner.

Joke sign.

I’d let the potatoes bake for about 30 minutes before starting additional prep, but you do what you want. If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven at least 30 minutes before you’re ready to bake the pizza.

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To make the crust, dissolve the sugar in a cup of warm water and then sprinkle the yeast on top. Set it aside until the yeast is frothy, which should only take 5 minutes or so. While the yeast is frothing, mix the flour and the salt in a second bowl and the olive oil and dried herbs in a third. Mix the flour mixture into the water mixture until it forms a ragged dough, then mix the oil mixture in. The dough will be sticky (and oily) at this point.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for a few minutes, until it is no longer sticky.

Now for my least favorite part.

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If you are transferring your crust onto a pizza stone in the oven, you’ll need either a pizza peel or a cookie sheet. If you are not using a pizza stone, just stretch the dough and do the whole baking process on the cookie sheet.

I use a pizza peel and stone because I am apparently a masochist. I’m terrible at transferring the pizza from the peel onto the stone. Just awful. I keep telling myself that I need to practice, but it hasn’t helped yet.

Anyway. You’ll be better at it than I am! Trust me when I say it would be hard to be worse. I can’t even show you how badly I mangled my poor crust.

Dust the peel with corn meal and then stretch the dough. I’ve tried many ways to stretch pizza dough (yes, including attempting to toss it into the air… how many languages can I saw mistake in?). My current favorite method is just to start with a ball of dough and gently press from the center outwards until it is relatively even in thickness and resembles a shape. Any shape will do.

Now, pizza professionals everywhere will laugh, but I pre-bake the crust. As peel-challenged as I am, I just can’t handle the transfer of raw dough + toppings. So, at this point I slide the crust into the oven for about 5 minutes, just enough to let it stiffen up. I know, I know.

At this point, your potatoes should be just about ready. Pull them out of the oven and cut them in half so they can cool off a bit before you try to scoop out the insides.

While the potatoes cool, work on the rest of the toppings. For this recipe, I decided to keep it simple. What tastes good on a potato? Bacon, butter, sour cream and chives? Yes please. I did brown the butter first to make it that much more delicious.

Dice four strips of bacon and then saute the strips until they are browned and crispy.

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Ummm, YUM! Set the bacon aside on a paper towel to drain.

Now, for the butter. To really brown butter, you have to pay attention to it. This is usually my downfall. Standing there and whisking it constantly seems pointless until, whoops, it’s burnt. Just whisk it. It doesn’t take that long.

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Once you start seeing little brown flecks, add the minced garlic and whisk for another 30 seconds or so, then remove it from the heat.

Scoop the insides out of your potatoes and then mash them lightly (not too much, it’s not mashed potato pizza). Season the potatoes with salt and pepper and get ready to assemble your pizza.

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Take your crust (pre-baked or not) and slather it with about half of the browned butter and garlic mixture. Sprinkle cheddar cheese over the buttered crust, then add the potatoes and top with the remaining butter. Sprinkle on the bacon.

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That’s Perry. That’s how Perry helps. (I actually used a 4-cheese blend. Sometimes you gotta go with what you have on hand.)

Bake the pizza for about 25-30 minutes until the crust lightly browned, then take it out of the oven and let it rest for a few minutes.

Top with snipped chives and sour cream. Cut and enjoy!

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