I was nine-years-old the first time I visited Chicago. Having spent most of my young life in the low adobe-roofed suburbs of Los Angeles, Chicago’s sheer height was a revelation. Buildings stood so high they truly seemed to scrape the sky. I don’t remember much about that trip except that we waited in line for what seemed like days to sample the city’s famed deep dish pizza. I grew up on a steady diet of Pizza Hut personal pan pies (hard won through the Book It rewards reading program) and couldn’t imagine that anything could possibly outshine that gloriously greasy treat.
Imagine my surprise when the waiter brought out a steaming pizza that stood nearly as tall as the sky scrapers that surrounded us in the heart of Chicago’s downtown. The crust was golden brown with a buttery sheen and it was filled to the brim with spicy sausage and loads of melted mozzarella. What really impressed me was the crown of red sauce that bubbled on top of the triumphant spectacle. The whole thing was over the top and fabulous and of course I loved it at first sight.
As an adult, my pizza tastes have become decidedly more Neapolitan but thin crust pizzas can never really absorb all the greasy goodness of a deep dish pie. So when I’m craving that flaky, golden, signature deep dish flavor, nothing else can satisfy it. These pizza-stuffed waffles are my homage to the deep dish pizza that so delighted me that first trip to Chicago. It stuffs simple red sauce, ample cheese, and a handful of pepperoni into Chicago-inspired* deep dish dough to create a savory Belgian waffle that is so good you might never eat anything else again. Plus, you won’t have to wait in line for three hours to stuff your face!
1. If you’ve never used yeast before, this is the perfect recipe to try. It is essentially fool proof and requires about five minutes of your time. The rest of the dough prep is just waiting out its long rise. The long rise gives it a wonderfully unique flavor and texture.
2. You can make this dough the night before and let it rise in the refrigerator so its ready to roll in time for lunch of dinner the next day.
*True Chicago deep dish pizza dough is such a hotly contested topic that I need to preface this with the word “inspired.”
Deep Dish Chicago Pizza Waffles
DOUGH & WAFFLE ASSEMBLY
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (or one 1/4 oz. packet of yeast)
1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
1 1/8 cups warm water
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup vegetable (or corn) oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons butter, melted (to brush on top of each waffle)
Grated Parmesan and garlic salt for sprinkling
Put the yeast, sugar, and water in a large bowl and let it stand for five minutes. If the yeast is fresh, it will start looking foamy. If it doesn’t foam, throw it out and try again. After the yeast foams, stir in the flour one cup at a time. Once you have a shaggy lump of dough, add the oil and salt. Use clean hands to knead for 3-4 minutes. The dough will be tacky but not a total mess and will form a ball easily. If it is still excessively messy, add 1/4 cup more of flour and knead for 3-4 more minutes.
Spritz some nonstick cooking spray around the dough and edges of the mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let the covered bowl sit in a warm corner and rise until double in size, about 6 hours. You can even make this the night before and let it rise in the fridge until you are ready to make the waffles.
After the dough has doubled in size, divide into four balls. Each ball will have enough dough to become one stuffed Belgian waffle. To assemble the waffles, use the following process for each of the four balls (take a look at the square assembly collage above if you need more help).
Divide one of the four balls in half. User your palm to flatten the half piece of dough into a circle (about five inches wide) and top with a few tablespoons of sauce (recipe below). Smooth the sauce into a circle, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the circle edges. Top the sauce with two slices fresh mozzarella, 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella, and five pieces of pepperoni.
Flatten the other half of the dough into an equal sized circle and put it on top of the toppings, crimping the edges so the two pieces form one piece of stuffed dough. Brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with a little grated Parmesan and garlic salt. Repeat for the remaining three dough balls.
Heat the Belgian waffle iron and mist with nonstick cooking spray. Put a stuffed dough disc on the hot iron and cook until lightly browned and crispy, about 3 minutes. Top with extra sauce and cheese. Repeat for the remaining stuffed discs. Each waffle is massive and feeds about 1 1/4 people so one batch will make enough to serve 5 people.
Dough recipe adapted from All Recipes
1 (14 oz.) can fire roasted tomatoes
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Dump all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix together.
8 slices fresh mozzarella (2 per waffle)
1 cup shredded mozzarella (1/4 cup per waffle)
Pepperoni (about 5 pieces per waffle)
I am a writer and blogger living in metro Detroit who always seems to have the worst case of wanderlust. My vagabond heart has taken me all around the world–from camel trekking through the Sahara Desert, to gelato-tasting down the Amalfi Coast, to temple seeking in the humid jungles of Guatemala. My favorite part about traveling is learning the tastes of each new culture and translating them from the comfort of home. You can find me waxing rhapsodic about food and other adventures on my blog, Club Narwhal.