Stuffed Pizza with Ricotta and Spinach Pizza recipe: Stuffed pizzas are quite the sensation in Chicago. Different from deep-dish pizzas, these pizzas have both a bottom and top crust. There are so many good pizza joints in Chicago, it
is difficult to mention them all; one we haven’t talked about yet is Nancy’s Original Stuffed
Pizza. We ate this pizza many times at the original location on N. Elston Street on the upper
northwest side of Chicago.
With some experimenting, we have adapted this recipe to perfection for the home cook.
Not having the advantage of a commercial pizza oven, we found the best method for making a
stuffed pizza was to cook it in a springform pan. Although an unconventional approach, releasing
the clamp on the side of the pan partway through the baking process allows the steam to
escape and the sides of the pizza to brown beautifully. This was a showstopper when we made
it for a pizza party.
Makes one 9-inch stuffed pizza; serves 4 or 5
olive oil for brushing the pan
chicago-style deep-dish pizza
dough or chicagostyle butter-and-garlic deepdish pizza dough, at
6 ounces baby spinach leaves,
1 pound whole-milk or partskim ricotta cheese
freshly ground pepper
Position an oven rack on the second-lowest level in the oven and place a baking stone, if using
one, on the rack. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Brush the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round springform pan with olive oil. Remove one-quarter
of the dough from the ball of prepared dough and set it aside, covered. Starting in the middle
and using your fingertips, press the larger portion of dough evenly to cover the bottom and all the
way up the sides of the pan, letting a bit of the dough overhang on the sides. Cover the pan with
plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise in the pan for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the spinach and ricotta until well blended. Season with pepper.
To assemble the pizza, lightly press the dough up the sides of the pan if it has slid back down.
Roll or press out the smaller piece of dough into a 9-inch circle and prick it all over with a fork. Lay
half of the mozzarella slices over the pizza dough in the pan, overlapping them to cover the dough
completely. Spoon the ricotta mixture over the top, spreading it evenly. Arrange the rest of the
mozzarella over the top. Carefully fit the circle of dough over the cheese, and then fold down and
roll the two edges of dough together to form a thick border.
Place the pizza in the oven on the rack or baking stone. (Work quickly to slide the pizza into
the oven and close the door so the oven temperature doesn’t drop too much.) Bake the pizza
until the top crust is lightly browned, 12 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven and ladle the
tomato sauce evenly over the top crust without covering the edges. Sprinkle the Parmesan over
the top of the sauce. Return the pizza to the oven and release the clamp on the side of the pan;
this will allow the side crust to brown and crisp. Continue baking the pizza until the sides and top
edges of the crust are deep golden brown, about 10 minutes longer. Using oven mitts, carefully
relatch the clamp on the side of the pan, then remove the pizza from the oven and place it on
a wire rack. Release the clamp and remove the side ring of the springform pan. Alternatively,
without relatching the side ring, slide a pizza peel under both the bottom of the pan and the ring
to transfer the pizza to a wire rack, then remove the ring. Let cool for 5 minutes.
Cut the pizza into large wedges and then slide a metal spatula under the bottom crust to
remove and lift out the wedges. Serve immediately.
-Diane Morgan and -Tony Gemignani