A few years ago, a GREAT pizza joint called Tortuga's opened up here in Hoover. Known for TRUE Chicago-style pizza and THE coldest beer in the Bham metro, I'm a HUGE fan of Tortuga's. The walls are plastered with Bears and Cubs memorabilia, which, as those of you who know me personally can attest to, makes me feel right at home.
I usually get a 10" stuffed "Wrigleyville", which contains smoked sausage, Italian sausage, onions and green bell peppers. However, Tortuga's has odd hours, and more than once, it has been so packed that I couldn't even get a table. So, I decided to try my hand at recreating the classic Chicago deep-dish pizza.
Like hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches, Chicago puts its very own Second City spin on the classic pizza. Their version has a thick and buttery crust, several inches tall, while the pie is stuffed with uncooked chunky tomato sauce, cheese and a myriad of toppings.
Invented at Pizzeria Uno in 1943 by original pizza chef Rudy Malnati (whose son later opened the Lou Malnati's chain), the pizza is cooked in a springform pan rather than atop a pizza stone. Toppings are added in single layers, with the meat usually pressed into a patty form. Taking it a step further, Giordano's tops the pizza with MORE dough, making the pizza "stuffed".
For my version, I took the shortcut of buying fresh premade pizza dough from our local Publix bakery. Any toppings or fillings can be used, but don't skimp or cheat on the sauce or cheeses.
Apologies for the picture quality - I apparently had my camera on the wrong setting; that's why these look like they were taken with a potato. Oops!
Chicago Stuffed Pizza
1 1/2 lbs pizza dough, divided in half, or 2 rolls of refrigerated canned pizza dough
8oz thinly sliced Provolone cheese
1 lb Italian sausage, cooked & crumbled
1 10oz can artichoke hearts, drained
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 28oz can diced tomatoes, drained (I used canned "chunky" tomato sauce)
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
Roll out 1/2 of the pizza dough onto a floured board until 1/8" thick, about 4-5" larger than a 10" springform pan. Place dough in pan and press against the bottom and up the sides. Trim excess dough.
Top dough with sliced Provolone, cooked sausage & artichoke hearts. Top with 1/2 of the grated Parmesan.
Roll remaining dough to 1/8" thick and place atop the pizza; trim excess dough and then roll the top and bottom doughs together to seal. Prick dough in order to let steam escape.
Combine the diced tomatoes, garlic powder, oregano, basil and red pepper flakes. Spread 1 - 1 1/2 cups of the sauce atop the pizza dough. Cover with mozzarella and remaining Parmesan.
Bake pizza in a 375-degree oven for 45 minutes, topping with foil for the last 5-10 minutes. Let cool slightly, then release from the springform pan. Let cool 10-15 minutes before slicing.