ashton-remaxHello everyone!

I’m back this season to share some more tasty foods from the cities in which the Predators are playing on the road. They’re Chicago two days in a row, who is of course famous for deep-dish and stuffed dish Chicago style pizzas. While normally I would break down all the different foods native to an area, I’m going to keep this one pizza-specific as there will be return-trips to Chicago later this season.

There is much debate over who has the best pizza in Chicago. The two whose names come up the most in debate are Giordano’s and Gino’s East.

Giordano’s opened their doors in 1974 on Chicago’s south side, but their roots stretch back much further than that. The idea for their deep-dish, double-crust pizza traces back to Torino, Italy, where “Mama Giordano” would make her famous “Italian Easter Pie” every year. Generations later, following an immigration to America, her ancestors carried on the tradition. The company is now growing, including two locations near me in Indianapolis!

Gino’s East is in their 50th year of operation in Chicago. They too are spreading to more and more cities – and you can even have ready-to-bake pizzas delivered to your home and find smaller sized versions of their pizzas in the freezer aisle at the grocery store. They’re also famous for letting guests write all over their walls – look hard and you may find some celebrities!

If thinner crust is your thing, you can always head to Home Run Inn. You’ve probably seen their pizzas in the grocery store, but their heritage as a dine-in restaurant reaches back to the 1920s as a tavern. Their name comes from a home run ball that crashed through their window in the 1930s. Their frozen pizzas were named #1 in the nation by Consumer Reports in 2013.

If those don’t fill you up, don’t worry, there are endless options for pizza in the Windy City. One place to start looking: a google map of 72 pizza restaurants that have been reviewed by Serious Eats Chicago. It is even color-coded – green is “their pizza is good,” yellow is “their pizza is ok,” and red is “their pizza is not good.”

Eater Chicago has a list of their Top 25 iconic pizzerias. A few include Aurelio’s (the oldest in the city), Barnaby’s (for pub-style), Bartoli’s (grandson of the founder of Gino’s East), Forno Rosso (which is VPN certified as having exceptionally authentic Neapolitan pizzas), Coal Fire (baked in 800-degree ovens), and many more.

Even Homer Simpson has a strong opinion on Chicago pizza – and prefers it to the New York thin style (though not for traditional reasons).

My attempt at a Chicago style stuffed pizza did not go particularly smoothly, so y’all will have the benefit of learning from my struggles. I first started to make my own dough – but then realized I was short on flour and my yeast was expired, and due to time constraints at that point, I had to go with a couple packages of frozen dough from the grocery, put them in ziplock bags, and place in water to thaw quickly.

I would also recommend using significantly more pepperoni, cheese, and sauce than what I used in my version. I thought an entire pound of cheese would be plenty, but it definitely would have benefited from twice that. I used one can of crushed tomatoes, and would recommend two. And definitely double the pepperoni!

It isn’t perfect – but it was still delicious and it was fun to give it a try!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Two packages frozen pizza dough
  • Two cans crushed tomatoes (Italian seasoned if you can find them)
  • Lots of pepperoni
  • About a metric ton of mozzarella cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Italian seasoning
  • Glass of bourbon (for yourself)

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Combine the two balls of dough into one big one. Cut 1/4 of it off and save for later. Roll the other 3/4 out to a size that will fit in a 12″ iron skillet. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.

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  • Preheat the oven to 425(F)
  • Place the pepperoni on a baking sheet and pop into the oven for a few minutes. This will cook out some of the grease, keeping it from being overwhelming inside the pizza.

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  • Place the pepperoni and cheese inside the pan.
  • Roll out the remaining 1/4 of dough to cover up the pepperoni and cheese.

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  • Pulse-blend the tomatoes until they’re a chunky sauce. Spread that over the top of the pizza.

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  • Put in the oven at 450(F) for 32 minutes.
  • Drink a glass of bourbon (or two) while you wait.

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  • [I started the previous step a little while before the picture got taken – feel free to do the same!]
  • Take out of the oven – let rest for 2-3 minutes – cut with a pie server, and enjoy!

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Of course, there is never-ending debate about what the definitive Chicago pizza is – and how to make it – but this is one man’s attempt to do it at home from a combination of several recipes and methods. Feel free to share your favorite Chicago pizza in the comments!


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