So, I have some good news to share with everyone. I’m extremely excited to commit to starting medical school in August at Rush Medical College, in Chicago, IL! I’m really going to be a doctor guys 🙂 From the very beginning on interview day, I had such an amazing feeling about Rush. It was like I already fit in with the students, the faculty, even my fellow interviewees. Even the whole city of Chicago just felt right – everyone was so genuinely friendly, even (especially) my Uber drivers!
What struck me the most was how much every Chicagoian I met wouldn’t stop talking about their huge love for their city – a stark difference from how New Yorkers seem to love to hate NYC 😛 But as much as I might grumble about subway rudeness at rush hour or the horror that is walking through Times Square… I’m really going to miss this city. Any ideas for bucket list items before I move in the fall?
One thing that had been on my to-do list since moving to NYC was to check out Artichoke Pizza. Mostly highly recommended from NYU alums as prime yum in the early hours of the morning after a hot night out. The firs time I grabbed a slice of their signature artichoke pizza was after a 12+ hour day at work, most of which had been spent standing and running around in a heavy lead vest (protection against the radiation used in the surgery). I was tired to the bone but high on life after having the opportunity to watch this awesome surgery using an investigational device that’s only been used five times before worldwide! So pizza celebration seemed like a good idea. My instincts were absolutely spot on.
If you live in NYC and haven’t yet tried the artichoke pizza at Artichoke Pizza (there are multiple locations) – just go! At least so you know whether the hype is worth it or not. Apparently their other slices are very good as well, but for my first time I opted for their signature namesake which is basically like a cheesy artichoke dip of delicious ooey-gooeyness over a nicely substantial crust that manages to be both crunchy and fluffy at once. Just don’t burn your mouth eating too fast like I did!
Meanwhile, this past weekend I revisited Chicago for Rush’s Second Look event and had a taste of the infamous deep dish pizza at Giordano’s. It wasn’t bad – other students had their own opinions about where to find the definitive best deep dish – Gino’s East, Lou Malnati’s – but I guess I’ll have plenty of time to explore and decide on my own in the next four years! The cheesy goo factor was definitely there, but I kind of missed the fluffy chew of the crust which was basically all dry crunch. The whole time I kept thinking, man, this deep dish would be so much better with an artichoke dip topping.
…so of course I went home and made it myself. Think of this as an homage to my upcoming transition from NYC to Chicago! For the crust, I fell back on good old reliable America’s Test Kitchen, as featured on Brown Eyed Baker. One note about this recipe for Chicago deep dish purists though – America’s Test Kitchen does indeed fall prey to the myth that deep dish crust includes cornmeal in the mix (from what I have read at least, deep dish enthusiasts all seem quite certain that there is no cornmeal in the crust, and my own taste of deep dish in Chicago seemed to confirm this – but please correct me if I am wrong!). I ended up just going with it though because the end result is just so darn tasty and I’m already making a pretty unauthentic deep dish anyway 😛 I also deviated from the typical artichoke pizza toppings by adding some chicken, because it seemed like a classic combination – but if you would prefer to keep it vegetarian, you can definitely just throw in more artichoke hearts instead.
Mmm… cheesy, gooey, a crust with a crunch and a fluffy chew all at once. Just like the artichoke pizza, but even better because there’s just MORE! Can we call it the best of both worlds? I will certainly miss NYC, but am looking forward to finding much to love about Chicago!
Artichoke Deep Dish Pizza
makes one 8-9″ deep dish pizza, cut into 8 generous slices
vegetarian and vegan substitutions available
crust – adapted from America’s Test Kitchen/Brown Eyed Baker
- 1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
- 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 heaping teaspoon instant yeast
- 6 tablespoons water, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter or vegan butter, room temperature, divided
- 1 1/2 cups shredded low moisture part skim mozzarella cheese or vegan cheese
- 1 large or 2 small (around 8 oz) boneless skinless chicken breast
- 1/2 cup artichoke hearts (if making vegetarian, substitute chicken breast with an additional cup of artichokes for a total of 1 1/2 cup, approximately one whole can)
- 1 1/4 cups of your favorite alfredo/creamy sauce- here is my favorite recipe for healthy creamy sauce made with cauliflowers
- handful (about 1/2 cups) baby spinach leaves
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, or nutritional yeast
- First, start the crust. Add all ingredients EXCEPT for half of the butter (so only add 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, leaving out 1 1/2 tablespoons butter) in a large bowl or stand mixer bowl. Knead until the dough is smooth, supple, and elastic – I like the poke test, where you poke it and see if the dough rebounds pretty quickly, indicating that gluten has developed pretty well. This takes about 6 minutes on medium speed in the stand mixer, but can definitely be done by hand (knead for about 10 minutes, but go by sight and feel more than the length of time).
- Lightly grease a bowl, place the dough inside, and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Set aside at room temperature to rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
- While waiting to rise, you can take the time to prep your toppings – if using homemade sauce, make it now and set aside to cool. If using chicken, cook the chicken breast in a pan on medium high heat and dice or slice into bite-sized pieces; set aside to cool. Cook the spinach until wilted and set aside to cool. Break up the artichoke hearts, either by chopping roughly with a knife or just breaking them apart with your hands.
- Lightly flour a clean workspace and rolling pin. Turn out the risen dough and roll into approximately a 12×8 inch rectangle. Spread the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoon butter on the rolled out dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border on the edges. Roll the rectangle up into a cylinder. Flatten the cylinder seam-side down into a rectangle again. Fold the rectangle business letter/envelope style: take one end and fold over 1/3, then take the other end and fold over. This process of locking in a layer of fat and then making folds to create multiple layers is called laminating.
- Place the laminated dough back in the lightly greased bowl, cover, and set aside to rise until doubled in size – if room temperature is not too warm, then room temperature is fine, but if it’s very warm then I would suggest letting it rise in the fridge, which may take a little longer than an hour.
- Set the oven rack to the lowest level and preheat oven to 425 F. Roll the risen dough out to a 12-13″circle. Lightly grease a 8-9″ cake pan and pat the dough into the pan.
- It’s topping time! First, lay down the cheese. Then, the chicken (if using) and the artichoke hearts. Top with the creamy white sauce and stir in the wilted spinach. Lastly, sprinkle the grated parmesan or pecorino romano on top.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown but not burnt. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Leftovers store well in the fridge and freezer – to reheat, I would suggest heating in the oven until warmed throughout. Microwaving makes the crust soggy – though honestly, I kind of like it that way too, as it becomes less a pizza and more a sort of savory cheesy bread pudding. Can’t really go wrong 😉
Nutritional description: surprisingly, this deep dish isn’t that deep on the junk food spectrum! Not saying it’s a salad or anything, but the heavy topping to crust ratio keeps the amount of refined carbs per serving down, there’s plenty of veggies from the artichokes, spinach, and cauliflower (if using the cauliflower sauce), and a good dose of protein from the dairy and chicken. Using my favorite cauliflower sauce really keeps the fat content in balance too – if you’ve never had creamy cauliflower sauce, you’re in for a treat! Calorically, every bite is more than worth it – depending on your daily needed caloric intake, feel welcome to enjoying two to three slices for a satisfying but not too heavy meal!
Nutritional information (per slice assuming 8 slices, calculated without vegan substitutions and with chicken): Calories 250, Total Fat 9.9g, Saturated Fat 5.5g, Cholesterol 45.4mg, Carbs 24.3g, Fiber 1.6g, Sugars 1.5g, Protein 15.5g, Sodium 373.5mg