Chicago Style Pizza in Groningen

The first apartment I lived in in Groningen had no oven. No, I don’t understand it either, but it’s not that unusual for a Dutch rental property to come with no oven or space for an oven, should the tenant wish to bring their own. For two years I roasted my chickens, legs of lamb, and occasional eggplant in a dinky little combination microwave and convection oven. If I remember correctly, I likened it to cooking with a hairdryer. I am often prone to exaggeration it’s true, but on this occasion the description was as apt as it could get. Eventually, I learned its ways and could produce serviceable results with most dishes except for one. It was impossible to even consider cooking a pizza in that box. I knew it, it knew it, and we resigned ourselves to buying pizza at the local take-out. Even that needed a bit of learning and a bit of teaching, but eventually we could get something to keep us going. Notice the ‘we’. The little combi and I had forged an alliance. Either that or my brains were getting soupy from the lack of decent pizza.

When we moved a few months ago, one of the most important features a potential house would need to become a candidate was either a decent oven or space for one. Our current house came with the first. Nothing fancy, nothing flashy. An honest, simple, hard-working, heat-breathing oven. And I love it. I love it because now I can cook pizza again. And today I did. In a rather unusual way, at least for me. I made Chicago-style pizza, which I, to this day, still claim is not really pizza. And it isn’t. It’s something else altogether and, if we get over the nomenclature concerns, it can be pretty damn tasty.

I made a simple chunky tomato sauce in the afternoon with a can of sweet San Marzano tomatoes and butter, rather than oil, as the backbone. I let that cool to room temperature while I kneaded a dough made with flour tipo 0, corn meal, and more butter. And than I put the whole thing together. Not all that difficult actually. Credit to the folks at America’s Test Kitchen who provided me with the recipe.

Other than changing a few things about the seasoning to account for some ingredient differences, the whole thing was pretty successful, I thought, and so did the rest of the family. The pizza came out looking beautiful and it tasted just like it did at our local East Bay Chicago-style pizzeria, Zachary’s.

Next time, it’ll be the real thing. A vera pizza Napolitana. Stay tuned.