Maybe you've crafted homemade pizza before, but have you ever made a delicious restaurant-quality deep dish pizza? It's hard not to love this hearty, savory pie with its thick buttery crust and loads of cheese, sauce, and tasty toppings. The good news is that you can make this Chicago staple at home with minimal effort — all you need is your slow cooker.
Not only does this method avoid overheating your kitchen and making a mess in your oven, but another benefit of using the low temperature of the slow cooker to make the meal is that it's practically impossible to burn, and it creates a crust that's fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside.
Simply add pizza dough to the bottom of the slow cooker, layer it with sauce, cheese, and your preferred toppings (like sausage and pepperoni or fresh veggies like spinach, tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions), and set it to cook on high or low, depending on how fast you want it to be ready.
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The Best Way To Load Up Your Pizza Dough
To start working with the dough for your slow cooker deep dish pizza, spray the machine with cooking oil and stretch your dough directly in the pot. Or, for an easier and cleaner method, stretch the dough on a layer of parchment paper that's been brushed or sprayed with olive oil before putting it inside; you can safely lower the dough into the pot by holding onto the paper and add your toppings from there.
After it cooks, simply remove the pizza by grabbing the ends of the paper again — this will ensure that it comes out in one piece. Rather than, for example, trying to remove it with a spatula, which can end in a deep dish disaster.
Whether you use homemade pizza dough or buy pre-made dough, allow it to reach room temperature first, then stretch it until it forms the shape of your slow cooker (traditionally, circle or oval). The key to getting a thick crust on the perimeter is to stretch the dough so that it's a couple of inches longer and wider than the circumference of the machine.
Stretching pizza dough can be frustrating since it will shrink a bit as soon as you stop. If it's snapping back significantly, you might need to cover it with plastic wrap or a dish towel and allow it to rest for several minutes. This will allow the gluten to further develop, which makes your dough more elastic.
How To Top Your Deep Dish Pizza
While regular pizza commonly consists of cheese on top of the sauce, traditional Chicago deep dish pizza has cheese on the bottom, which acts like a moisture barrier, preventing the wet sauce from turning the thick crust into a soggy mess. Another reason the sauce is layered over the cheese is to prevent it from burning since deep dish pizzas have to cook significantly longer than thin or hand-tossed varieties.
If you opt for making a tasty Chicago-style pizza, layer the dough with mozzarella first, then add your toppings, and finally pour the sauce over the top. Achieve presentation perfection by adding some basil and parmesan on top after it's cooked.
If you prefer your cheese on top, spread the sauce on the bottom of the crust first, then add the mozzarella and put the toppings on top the traditional way. Options for tasty toppings can include cooked sausage, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, olives, mushrooms, peppers, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes. It's also best to saute your veggies and cook the meat before adding it to the pizza in the slow cooker.
After your pie is fully loaded, another helpful tip for ensuring you achieve a crunchy crust is to put a dish towel or paper towel on top of the cooker before putting the lid on. The towel will absorb the moisture and condensation that forms inside the machine, preventing it from dripping onto your pizza and creating a soggy mess.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.