The Scribe has forgotten about this website. He has abandoned you, gentle reader! But fear not! In my generosity, I return to you as guide and mentor. I have decided to renew my efforts and once again become the laboring oar in this unloved and dark place of the internet, futilely categorizing, filtering, condensing, and describing the downfall of the Lambert clan through food. It only seemed right: we need more aging, overly-educated malcontents with a weakness for beer, manga, and video games out there writing articles. To that end, my treatise on the post-Snowden balkanization of the internet, written entirely in the style of Dada performance poetry, will be available soon (as an aside: hi NSA!).
Speaking of espionage, I bet a lot of the NSA's cyberspies love themselves some pizza. It's only logical, amiright? NSA supergeeks -- and let's be clear, that's not an insult -- love the same things I do during long stints in front of their computers. I mean, maybe my computer skills are limited to crushing Gandhi before he goes nuclear in Civilization 5 rather than ruining an ex's credit because they are a manipulative troll that wears the skin of a human, but both gamers and scary agents of an even scarier shadow agency enjoy stuffing our faces with greasy, cheesy, crusty pizza. Mmmmmm-MMM! So this one's for you, bored NSA cyberspy. Turn off Doctor Who for a second and pay attention.
In our youths, the Scribe was fond of Armand's, a local deep dish pizza place. An improvement over Dominoes, the crust was thick, chewy, and a little hard. Because the Scribe had an uncanny ability to weasel things out of our mother -- for a while there he got a new G.I. Joe* almost every week while I got nothing -- we'd frequently find ourselves driving to Armand's to get pizza. Spinach and garlic was the usual, but there was also a free slice for picking up. The Scribe almost never let me have the free slice.
How little we knew. Sure, Pizza Hut was an abomination from the Third Circle of Hell,** but that meant Armand's, by comparison, was classic Chicago-style deep dish. And after biting into a piece of wire baked into a pizza at a shitty local joint a year or so ago, and their subsequently shitty treatment of me when I asked for my money back, my admiration of Armand's only intensified. But on a somewhat-recent trip to Chicago, I was mortified to discover we were profoundly misled. Armand's is the equivalent of frozen pizza when compared to the artery-clogging majesty of real Chicago deep dish.
I was searching for a decent recipe before I got home.
Here is the best. I found it tangled amongst the gibbering, pedantic froth of a food article's comments section. Amidst internet flame wars and inexplicable pizza commenter rage, I found this recipe. It comes from an anonymous insider at a Chicagoland pizzeria, which is why I'm not citing him. This very reasonable gentleman was adamant that there is no cornmeal in these crusts, which is sacrilege in the fora of the internet's deep dish pizza underworld. And I must report that the extraordinary quality of his dough convinces me that he is right: the cornmeal is a red herring. There is no spoon, there is no cornmeal.
This is a base recipe. You'll need to probably make 1.5 to 2 times this amount to fit a 14" iron skillet, which is what I use. The dough depends on two things: a good amount of oil and very limited kneading. If you're a baker, it is going to feel pretty wet. That's ok.
1 cup all-purpose flour (I don't have a weight measurement, so you'll just have to wing it.)
6-7 Tablespoons water; add more flour or water as needed
3 Tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon yeast (I proofed the yeast, but that's apparently not necessary)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix for one minute, then knead for no more than two. Let rise for about 6 hours or so. Punch down, then cover and let the gluten relax for 10-15 minutes or so. Then either roll it out or press into a pan. Add cheese, toppings, sauce. bake at 450 for around 30 minutes depending on the oven.
Pizza sauce is pretty simple stuff to make. I'd give a recipe, but frankly, I don't bother with measurements since it is all to taste. I like Pomi chopped tomatoes as a general rule, and they work well here. Add some basil, oregano, black pepper, salt. If you desire an abomination, add sugar too. And consider toasting the black peppercorns in a dry pan until they start to pop -- it doesn't take long -- or microwaving them for about 20 seconds. It makes a big difference.
From what I can tell, not all pizza places cook their sauces before they put it on the pizza. I thought this strange, but I tried it with this dough recipe and the results were very good. So no need to simmer anything beforehand. But if you do, I'd also add some bay leaves to the sauce.
This is where it gets weird. If you're doing it right, the sauce goes on top of the cheese and whatever toppings you've added. Consider your mind blown.
** This is a reference to Dante's Inferno (the masterpiece of world literature, not the lame video game), which describes the third circle as the place where gluttons go. They sit naked in the mud and snow for eternity while Cerberus, the mythological three-headed dog, runs across the wastes and rips them apart one by one. I know this because my high school art teacher made us all read Dante's Inferno and then paint something from it. I might have been the only one who did the reading. The product was heavily inspired by Hieronymus Bosch.