Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pizza - Chicago Style Mango Hot Italian Sausage with 4 Cheeses - A Photo Essay

Take a look... A two inch tall (deep dish indeed) cast iron skillet (the BIG one) just filled with a thick chewy crust, 2 pounds of HOT Italian sausage (flavored with a sweet mango glaze), a pound of red onions (caramelized with that same mango glaze), a pound of mozzarella cheese, 1 pound and a half of ricotta, a generous portion of Parmesan cheese, all topped with a fantastic mushroom tomato sauce which includes a nutty Pecorina Romano cheese (two pounds of this sauce as well). 

Nearly TEN POUNDS of pizza!

I did have a little help eating this one.  Once again, new neighbors moved into the Cul de Sac, so plenty of help eating this specialty pizza that deserves a well earned place in my PIZZA 2011 PROJECT - 52 different pizza, one a week for a year!

There was a whole lot to this recipe (plenty of dirty pots and pans).  But I figure all those dirty pots and pans in the sink makes it clear how happy we are to have new neighbors.  Like I said, plenty to this recipe, but so well received, obviously a crowd pleaser!

Here's what I did...

First up is a specialty deep dish dough recipe.  I have a favorite thin crust that I make up every week. But for this monster, I needed a thick, airy style, flavored with cornmeal to hold up to all the ingredients.  Thin crust pizzas are a perfect balance of equal parts crust, sauce and toppings.  Ideally, a Chicago style is that same mixture of equal parts crust to sauce and toppings.

Here's how to do that...

4 cups flour
1 cup corn meal
3 TBS Sugar
3 TBS Salt
3 tsp Yeast (quick rise)
5 TBS Olive Oil
2 cups lukewarm water (100 to NO MORE THAN 110 degrees)

Warm up the Kitchenaid mixer with the bread hook attachment (or be ready to knead for at least 15 minutes).  Mix the dry ingredients, add 1 cup of water, then the oil, then follow with the rest of the water.  Add the last 1/2 cup slowly.  Dough is a funny thing, not always easy to measure water exactly.  add until you get that perfect mixture.

Continue to knead by machine for at least 10 minutes, or by hand until the it feels right (wish I could be more specific, but the dough is evenly hydrated, sticky, but not too wet... you just know).

Place the dough in a large bowl, coat the dough ball with a couple tsp of oil and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  Place in a warm spot and allow to rise until it doubles in size (about 3 hours).  I do have a hint about that warm spot.  I preheat the oven on low for only about 2 minutes.  Turn the oven off, and it is the perfect spot to put that bowl with the dough to rise.

While that's working, time to start on the mango glaze for the onions and sausage...

1 cup Sugar
1 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 ripe Mango, pealed, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 TBS Honey
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine sugar and vinegar in a small sauce pan and cook over high heat until the sugar is melted. Add the mango and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced by half and the mango is soft, 5 to 6 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a food processor and process until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Add the honey and season with the Salt and Pepper.

About 2 hours before serving time, I start on the sauce...

2 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 cup shitake mushroom buttons, cut into thin slivers
1/2 cup red wine
4 cloves garlic
1 cup Pecorina Romano cheese (melts great on liquid)

Combine everything in a sauce pan and simmer for 30 minutes.  Then take your handy hand mixer and blend to a thick paste.

Next up is to caramelize the onions...

I just rough sliced one red onion and separated the rings.  I then cut all those rings in half.  I melted 2 TBS of butter in a small saute pan, added the onions, mixed well with the butter and allowed them to simmer on medium heat for about 30 minutes (stirring occasionally).  I added 1/4 cup of the mango glaze and continued to simmer until the glaze was reduced and absorbed into the onions.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Alright, time to start forming the pizza...

This is the largest cast iron skillet I have - 14 inches (if you use a smaller one, you will need to cut the portions proportionally.  If you look at that first photo, everything fits perfect, just barely topping the lip of the skillet for a beautiful presentation).

Punch the dough down.  It will shrink to about half the raised dough size.  I oiled the bottom of the pan and plopped the dough ball into the center.  From there, start pushing the dough around until you get even thickness, on the bottom and up the sides.

Allow this to rest a second time for about 15 minutes.  This adds to the airiness of the crust.  If you like a denser, thinner, chewier crust, you can leave out the second proof (world famous Pizzeria Uno leaves this second proof step out, so it is OK... Me, I was after that even mix of same size crust to toppings and sauce look.

While the dough is proofing, time to work on the sausage.  I just browned 2 pounds of bulk Italian hot sausage, drained to fat and added the remaining mango glaze, mixing until all the sausage is coated.

Finally, time to work on the cheese sauce...

1 1/2 pounds of ricotta cheese
2 eggs
2 tsp Salt 

Whisk together until creamy.

And, have ready a pound of thinly sliced mozzarella cheese.

And finally, it's time to make the pizza!

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Take a fork and punch a few dozen holes in the bottom of the crust to prevent bubbling.

Bake the crust for about 5 minutes to set the proof.  If you skip this step, the dough will fall while you add the POUNDS and POUNDS of filling.

Next, remove from the oven and brush 2 TBS of olive Oil over the crust (including the top to insure even browning).  Add a few turns of freshly ground pepper and some coarse sea salt...

Take your mozzarella slices and line the bottom and sides with the cheese.

Again, VERY IMPORTANT to get a layer of cheese between the grease of the sausage and the moisture of the sauce.  This keeps the dough soft and chewy like a focaccia bread.

Next is to add the toppings...

You can mix the onions and sausage together, me, i prefer to add the sausage and then add a layer of onions.

This nearly fills the entire pizza.  But that's ok, the liquid steps to follow ooze down into the cracks and crannys in the sausage, filling every inch with flavor...

Add that whipped ricotta/egg cheese mixture now.

You could add the tomato sauce first, and have the cheese on top if you like a browned cheese look to your pizza.  But the classic Chicago deep dish pizza always has the tomato sauce covering all the toppings.  So Cheese first for me...

And last but not least...

Top with the tomato sauce.  To insure a good mix, i took a fork and pushed down the sauces into the sausage.  Everything just evenly filled the entire cast iron skillet.

bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.  Actually, I wanted to insure the bread was fully cooked (remember, the tomato sauce, sausage and onions were already fully cooked, so all I was really "cooking" was the bread dough).  To insure the dough was fully cooked, I inserted a meat thermometer in the edge of the crust to make sure the internal temperature of the crust had reached 195 degrees.

We had 10 people for dinner this night.  I served a salad before the pizza.  I had enough left over for lunch for me the next day and a left over dinner for just Jackie and me.

Made plenty for a party!

I served it piping hot from the oven.  So while plating, the sausage oozed from the top.  But that was OK... what it lacked in perfect presentation, it more than made up for in taste.  It was a lot of work, but, like Mary poppins...

Practically Perfect in Every Way!



  1. This is gigantic! More like a cross between a pizza and a pie. I'm sure it tastes incredible!

  2. I have to say, this takes deep dish to a whole new level. You could give Chicago pizza run for its money with this baby.

  3. Wow Dave that is one serious pizza. I've been wanting to try one and hopefully will in the near futurs

  4. wow, that's one huge pizza! Time to put my cast iron pan to good use!

  5. Do you ship? Because I would love to see one of those show up on my door step! Bravo!

  6. Wow, now that's one gorgeous pizza! And I want a piece, right now! Lucky neighbors!

  7. Living in Chicago, I loves me a deep dish pizza - except for the onions, I am all over this one Dave!!

    Have a great weekend with Jackie!

  8. I have seen those pizza eating challenges when they show a pizza that is thin crust but huge in diameter but damn, Dave! This thing is MASSIVE. I'm not surprise it took 45 minutes to bake. Nice job, I'm sure the new neighbors loved it.

  9. Oh, my gosh, Dave, this is incredible looking! Wow, wow, wow! All the layers. I don't know if I can pull this off gluten-free, but I'm going to have to try. It's just too fabulous!


  10. I would eat the whole thing myself.

  11. I've been drooling over this pizza in my sidebar for a few days now, and just had to come by and say YUM!

  12. Seriously, that is one over the top pizza...10 lbs.! It would probably add 25 lbs. to me, yikes!

  13. This sounds serious! What a great, tasty and comforting pizza. Great pizza Dave. Blessings, Catherine

  14. Dave - wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!!!!

    I used to work at a pizza place in my late teens that made a killer deep dish pizza. I always kicked myself for not seeing how they made it, what dough recipe, etc...

    I'm pretty sure your new neighbors love you!!

  15. Whoa!! now thats a pie...looks amazing and I think I can smell it. The blog looks great.

  16. Holy smokes! I want to bathe in that. God bless Project Pizza 2011!