Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Chicago Stuffed Pizza

I know what you are thinking, and I can explain. 




Yes, you read right, Chicago Stuffed Pizza, on a nutrition related blog.  I, like many Chicagoans, have a preferred Chicago-Style pizza place.  Yes, I prefer one over the other but I would never say no to any of the runner ups either.

What is Chicago style pizza?  For most it means cheese on the bottom and sauce on top with a lot of crust. 

Two variations include deep dish and stuffed.  A deep dish pizza includes a crust with sides that holds A LOT of cheese and toppings with a chunky tomato sauce on top.  A stuffed pizza is a thin layer of crust topped with A LOT of cheese and toppings and then topped with another layer of pizza dough, sauce and more cheese. 

So that being said, how could you not like Chicago style pizza?  Whether you choose Giordanos, Uno's, Due's, Ginos or Lou Malnati's you are going to get one deliciously cheese laden gourmet treat.

Another great thing about Chicago is our ability to go above and beyond and celebrate somewhat insignificant holidays like no other city, St. Patrick's Day being one of them.  This past weekend lent itself to green rivers, parades and drinking large quantities of green tinted adult beverages, for two full days. 

Along with warm weather, lots of walking and free flowing libations came cravings for high fat, salty, totally not-good-for-you meal options, que the Chicago style pizza.

I would be lying if I told you that I don't enjoy indulgent foods.  Dietitians, just like everyone else, succumb to desires to stray away from healthy foods and eat meals consisting solely of the items that only fit in the teeny tinyest part of the pyramid. 

That being said I ate pizza this week end, twice, well ok three times but the last time is the recipe that I am about to share with you.

    Can Chicago Style Stuffed Pizza be part of everyday nutrition?  Not if it includes eating half a Gino's pizza three times per week, but YES, absolutely, if it includes this healthified option or you have the real thing every once in awhile and mind your portion size.

First we start with a simple dough.  My favorite recipe is:

2.25 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup warm water

Combine, knead for 5 minutes and let rise covered in a warm area for 90 minutes.

Next separate the dough. This recipe makes two 9-inch stuffed pizzas,  so I divide the dough into 4 sections.  When I do this, I make one 9-inch pizza which is perfect for two servings and freeze the other dough for a later date.  You can also bypass this whole process and buy pre-made pizza dough.

Start by rolling the dough and pressing into a 9 inch cake pan


Next add cheese.  TRUE Chicago pizza would used sliced mozzarella and layer it about 1/2 inch thick at the bottom of the pizza.  To make it healthier I used reduced fat mozzarella.  I like shredded cheese because you can more evenly spread it and get away with using less. 


Next add toppings, I chose turkey pepperoni


And then I looked at it and made an executive decision that my pizza could use a little more, after all I would only be eating half the pizza and I had already cut back on the cheese.


Next comes the veggies, spinach was my vegetable du jour.


Then comes the uniquely Chicago part, the second crust!


The chunky sauce


And lastly, more cheese.


This gets baked in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes and then enjoyed without all of the fat and calories that come from it's inspiration!

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