One of my former student's, who is from Chicago, was lamenting that finding authentic Chicago style pizza in California has been fruitless, for her. She described the pizza as being buttery and crunchy on the outside, with ooey gooey cheese in the middle. Her eyes took on that dreamy look that I get when I recall, and describe in great detail, one of the best things I've ever eaten. That was it. It was time to make the pizza.
What's missing are my usual step-by-step photos. In the winter, I lose the natural photography light, during the dinner hours. So sorry... The pizza crust ingredients include all-purpose flour, of course (I use King Arthur Flour unbleached), cornmeal, yeast, salt and a few others (printable recipe is at the end of this post).
It's the technique of rolling the dough that is a little different. The dough is laminated, and that means it's rolled out and then slathered with softened butter, then folded--creating layers of dough and butter, and then it's chilled. You then roll the dough into a cake pan, coated with olive oil. The laminated dough (similar to puff pastry) creates steam pockets creating lots of flaky layers.
While the dough is rising, you make a fairly simply pizza sauce with crushed tomatoes, fresh basil and a few other aromatics.
TASTING NOTES: I tend to prefer a thin crust pizza, and if it's baked in a wood fire, even better! However, this thick crust had a tender texture, with a little crunch on the outside. The butter gave the dough a lot of rich flavor. The sauce was very "tomato-ey" and thick. I took a shortcut and bought pre-shredded mozzarella. I won't do that, again, because it didn't melt as much as if I had shredded it myself (pre-shredded cheese tends to have an additive that inhibits the ability to full melt). No biggie, because it still tasted great. Would I make this again? You bet! Someday, if I ever get the chance to visit Chicago, I'm going to make it my personal mission to try the real deal. I have no idea if this pizza hit the mark for Chicagoans, but this California girl thinks that melted cheese in the middle rocks it!
Here is the printable recipe. NOTE: I store all of my recipes on Key Ingredient. Unfortunately, they have recently reverted back to requiring a free membership to log in and view my recipes. I'm hoping that they'll change their mind, but in the meantime, I'll post a second site that doesn't require a membership. If you have any problems printing the recipe, please write to me firstname.lastname@example.org.