I've been making hand-tossed NY style pizzas at home for a few years now. Generally happy with the results, though they sometimes tend to turn out uninspired.
Of greater interest to me has been getting a Sicilian pizza to turn out "right", meaning crispy crunchy crust on the outside edges. That is turning out to be somewhat elusive, but I've gotten pretty darn close.
Never have tried a Chicago deep dish. Have been wanting to for a while. I'm not sure why I was hesitant to try it, but there it is. I looked over many threads in the most valuable of forums, and decided that the Malnati's thread by BTB contained clear instructions, and the various photos looked very much like what I had in mind.
So I gave it a shot!!!
Cliff's Notes version: very happy with the results, want to keep trying.
I followed BTB's recipe for the 15% Semolina fairly closely ("fairly" meaning hundredths or even tenths of a teaspoon are nigh impossible to nail). Late in the evening of the 23rd I prepared the dough ball, put it in an oiled plastic baggie, and put it in the fridge. On Christmas Eve we got home from worship service at about 5:30, and I took the dough out of the fridge. Took it out of the baggie and placed it in an oiled shallow bowl, then put that in the unheated oven, with the light bulb on. Kept that in there for a little over an hour, then set it on the counter while I pre-heated the oven for about 30 minutes.
I cooked two NY style cheese pizzas for our 3 younger kids (they turned out quite good I must say. The pizzas, as well as the kids!). I left the pizza stone on the middle rack. I don't have a proper deep metal pan for this pizza, so I used a 10" cast iron skillet. Oiled it, pressed the dough into place, trying to crimp the top edges to be thin. The dough did not go up the sides as tall as I'd like, so if I use this skillet again, I'll up the recipe ingredient amounts accordingly. Layed in sliced mozz primarily, with a decent amount of provolone added.
Next was to lay in a sausage "pancake". I made mine using a pound of ground pork, 2.5 tsp salt, 3 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp garlic powder and 1 tsp fennel seeds. I know using fennel is anathema to some, but I like what it brings to the party.
Next was the tomato layer. I had drained a large-ish can of Cento crushed tomatos, to which I had added probably 2 tsp of minced garlic, 2 tsp of "Italian seasoning", 1 tsp black papper, 3 tsp honey, and 1 tsp oregano. Also added in the remnants of the sauce I had made for the thin pizzas (about 1/4 cup's worth, if that).
Sprinkled on a goodly amount of parmesan, and put that pan right on top of the pizza stone in the oven, which was rocking along at about 425. Kept it in there for about 25 minutes, turning it once for good measure.
Let's take a look, shall we.
In the first you can see the whole thing, right after taking it out of the pan (which was easier than I would have thought). You can see some wall-failure on one side, and I think that is where I couldn't nudge the sides up high enough during preparation. To me the crust has just the right color I was hoping for, just not tall enough. But I was pleased at this point, and ever so hopeful.
The second photo is just a different angle of the same thing. Lookin' good.
The third photo is a slice on a plate (duh). Sorry for the dubious picture quality. You can see that cheese was not in short supply for this pizza. You can see what I think is a nicely formed rim, and the chunky tomatos on top.
The last photo is the money shot. Nice rim, which has fallen away some (I think this was where the wall failure was). Nice tomatoes with yummy cooked parmesan on top. You can also see the sausage layer. Hmm, looks a little pink. I didn't encounter any bites where it looked undercooked, but was also a touch leery of it. Turned out fine.
My review: yum! This was a lot of fun to make! The taste was fantastic! I'm surprised I liked the tomato aspect of it as much as I did. Very garlic-y, and just delicious, really added a lot to the pizza. The sausage was good, but I'd say needs more development. I think next time I will still apply it uncooked, but will lay in a bunch of shallow silver-dollar sized pieces to let more heat get in and around the pork. Won't change anything about the cheese: just the right mix and amount. As mentioned earlier, I will up the ingredient amounts to yield more dough, if I use this pan again. Speaking of which, I do plan on ordering a few Chicago Metallic pans in different sizes. I think I'd also like to cook one incorporating a modest amount of pepperoni, with some slivers of onion.
Thanks to BTB for the Malnati's post, and to everyone who contributes to this forum!