According to Dean Martin: “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.”
According to us: “When your food satisfies like deep-dish pizza pot pie, that’s amore.”
The point is, however you choose to slice it, pizza is love, people! A big ol’ love pie. Whether it’s a cracker-thin-crust pizza or a thick-enough-to-fold-crust kinda pizza, we can still taste the love. But, this week, we’ve crafted a pizza with the deepest, barbecue-iest kind of love ever known to bellies: the BBQ Deep Dish Pot Pie Pizza!
It’s a deep-dish pizza, it’s a pizza pot pie, it’s a BBQ bonanza wrapped in a cornmeal crust. If it sounds crazy, that’s because it is. Not only is pizza limitless, but PIE (pizza’s predecessor and mentor) also lives by no rules. We’ve made a behemoth of a pizza pie that you’ll just have to see to believe. Better yet, we’ve got the recipe right here so you can make it yourself! So put on your stretchy pants, strap on your thinking caps, and get ready. We’re turning pizza into pie—but, first, see how pie turned into pizza.
A Slice of Pie History
Turns out pizza and pie have a whole lot in common, including their ancient ancestor! Before pizza was called “pizza,” it looked like big, round flatbreads covered with oil and spices in Ancient Greece. But, even that primitive pizza wouldn’t have been possible without the Ancient Egyptians teaching the Greeks a thing or two. The Ancient Egyptians were insanely good at the bread-making game, making over 40 different types of bread and cakes! They’re credited with baking the earliest forms of galettes—a.k.a. flat, round pastries (like pie) or breads (like pizza), generally with some kind of filling. By adding things like nuts, sesame seeds, honey, and fruits in their bread dough, the Ancient Egyptians were dabbling in one of the earliest forms of pastry- and pie-making.
The Ancient Greeks gladly borrowed the Egyptians’ techniques and put a new spin on those early galettes—with their primitive pizzas (for which we’re so grateful) and the first meat pies! Back then, cooking methods were pretty…well, ancient. Ovens were large clay pots and fire was burned inside of them to heat them up. Flat bread was baked on hot stones and meat was cooked directly over fire or on hot coals. This meat-cooking method often led to burnt, tough, or dry meat because all of the moist juices would drip away. Wrapping the meat in leaves or mud helped to keep it juicy, and that flour-and-water paste made a dough that felt kinda like mud… Thus, the Greeks started baking meat wrapped in dough to seal in the juices and started a long tradition of meat pies!
When the Ancient Romans conquered the Greeks, they snagged the genius gallete trend and brought it with them. The Romans started baking pies known as placenta in Latin, topped with cheese honey, and oil. Pies migrated all across Europe and, by Medieval times, pyes (as they were called then) were taken to new heights. Pie crusts were called “coffins” or “coffyns” back then, meaning basket or box—before the term was ever used in the context of funerals. And it’s weirdly fitting, considering it was common for pies to be filled with things like an entire bird, with its legs left hanging over the edge of the dish to be used as handles… Those early pies were more crust than filling, but not in a good way. The coffin acted as a baking dish for the pie, so it needed to be several inches thick to withstand hours of cooking, and often was too hard to be edible. With the addition of lard and butter, pie dough could be rolled out and molded, pie crust became flakier, and the road was paved for sweeter pie fillings like those we love today.
Deep Dish History: Pizza Comes (Almost) Full Circle
Though both pie and pizza share common roots, they’ve each carved their own paths through history. Pie went down the flaky-with-fillings route, while pizza took the doughy-with-toppings route. BUT, neither pie nor pizza are limited by these norms! There are endless different ways pizza to make pizza across the world. Even just within the United States, we’ve seen Napolitano pizzas evolve into New York pizzas, California pizzas, and the iconic Chicago deep-dish pizza—rooted in Italian culture, with an unforgettable American flare.
In the 1940s, two entrepreneurs, Ric Riccardo and Ike Sewell, wanted to open a restaurant. After their attempt at Mexican cuisine made Riccardo sick, they moved on to plan B: a pizzeria. Ric Riccardo was an Italian-American, and he and Sewell wanted to reflect that blend of cultures in a totally unique kind of pizza. What did they come up with? Deep-dish pizza, first sold in 1943 at their restaurant, The Pizzeria—later known as Pizzeria Uno! Neither Riccardo or Sewell was a cook, so the recipe was, more than likely, the genius invention of one of their employees—like Adolpho “Rudy” Malnati, Sr., whose sons went on to open deep-dish pizzerias of their own, or Alice May Redmond, who became a cook at another deep-dish joint that’s still in operation, Gino’s East.
Whoever the creator truly was, they crafted a whole new kind of pizza…that’s a whole lot more like a pie. Chicago-style deep-dish is a thick pizza, about 2-3 inches tall, that’s baked in a pan and has a crunchier crust. Not only that, but it’s also an UPSIDE-DOWN pizza! The pie is layered with mozzarella cheese on the bottom, which is then covered with meat (often Italian sausage) and veggies, and the whole kit-and-caboodle is topped with a layer of crushed tomatoes. It’s meant to be eaten with a fork and a knife, and you’ll probably need a napkin. The deep-dish truly is a pizza pie, bringing pizza ALMOST full circle—and we’re taking it all the way.
Pizza is Pie, But Pie Isn't Pizza...Until Today
For some reason, lots of people aren’t fans of the term “pizza pie,” and it seems to be a term that’s almost exclusive to America. “Pizza isn’t pie!” has been screamed across online forums. But, if we look at what a pie really is, pizza does qualify as pie (suggesting that “pizza pie” may actually just be redundant). A pie can be big or small, open or closed, savory or sweet—a pie (like a pizza) can be most anything! According to Everything Pies, an online authority on all-things pie, there are several laws governing what constitutes a pie:
- A pie must have a pastry made of some sort of grain.
- A pie must be baked in an oven at some time of the process, or pseudo-baked.
- A pie shall be baked in some form of a dish—metal, ceramic, or glass.
By our assessment, pizza totally can be a pie. It’s got a crust (pastry), it’s baked in an oven (in many cases), and it’s (often) baked on a pizza pan! The word “pie” is thought to come from the word “magpie,” which is a type of bird. The magpie is known to collect vegetables, fruit, and other odds and ends to adorn its nest, much like the various fillings that might go into a pie (or on a pizza). And, an unfilled pie crust looks pretty similar to a bird’s nest. If we’re talking about a big, round osprey nest that’s a little bit flat, we’ve got a pizza PIE!
Now, the word pizza obviously comes from Italian, referring to the savory flatbread we love to eat. (Some etymology experts even say that pizza means “pie” in Italian! Although, the words torta and crostata are now used in Italy to describe sweet or savory pies, respectively…) But, there’s lots of debate about how pizza made its way into the Italian language. There’s claims that pizza comes from the Latin word picea, used by the Romans to describe “the blackening of placenta (a.k.a. crust) by fire.” Pizza may also come from the West Germanic word bizzo, meaning “bite.” And, one common origin links pizza to the Greek word pitta, meaning cake or pie. It’s only natural that we take pizza all the back to its roots—by turning pizza into a pie.
BBQ. Deep Dish. Pot Pie. Pizza. Yeah.
The deep-dish pizza is often described as more like a pie than a flatbread, and we’re turning deep-dish into an actual pie. A pot pie, to be exact. With a cornmeal crust, classic BBQ fix-ins, and pizza’s trademark mozzarella cheese, we’ve created something truly spectacular. The culmination of thousands of years of history, leading up to this present moment, where the beloved pizza and pie finally meet. Try it out—even if it’s just to see how amazing a slice of this gigantic pie looks. But you should also eat it. We’re sure you won’t be disappointed.
Cornmeal Pizza Crust:
- 2 cups warm water (90-100°F)
- 2 ¼ tsp (1 packet) instant yeast
- 2 Tbsp honey
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 ¾ cups bread flour (or all-purpose flour)
- ⅔ cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 tsp kosher salt
Thanks to Comfortably Domestic for this awesome recipe!
Mac & Cheese:
- 12 oz. macaroni
- ⅓ cup butter
- ⅓ cup flour
- 3 cups milk
- 16 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 8 oz. gouda, grated
- 8 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
- salt & pepper, to taste
Other Filling & Toppings:
- red onion slices
- 1 can green beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can corn, drained and rinsed
- 1 can baked beans
- 2-3 strips bacon, chopped and cooked
- BBQ sauce
- shredded mozzarella cheese
To make your BBQ pulled chicken:
- Prepare your BBQ pulled chicken ingredients. Add everything to a slow cooker and slow cook for 5-7 hours.
- When your chicken is cooked, remove from slow cooker and place on a cutting board. Use two forks to shred the meat. Place shredded chicken back in the slow cooker to soak up the delicious juices. Store in the fridge if needed, until ready to make your pizza.
To make your cornmeal crust:
- Preheat oven to 200°F (95°C). Once your oven reaches 200 degrees, set a timer for 10 minutes.
- In a 4-cup measuring cup, add 2 cups warm water. Sprinkle yeast over warm water and quickly stir, so all of the yeast gets wet.
- Stir in honey. (If any yeast sticks to the spoon, be sure to wipe it back into the water!) Let yeast mixture sit for 2-3 minutes.
- Add flour, cornmeal, and kosher salt to the large bowl of a stand mixer. Stir a few times to mix together.
- After the 2-3 minutes, your yeast should start to “bloom” or look fluffy on the surface of the water. If not, wait a bit longer.
- Add the olive oil to the yeast mixture, and stir to combine. (The oil won’t mix completely with the water—because, science.)
- Turn the stand mixer on medium-low setting. Gradually pour yeast and oil mixture into the flour. Once you’ve poured all of the liquid, turn mixer up to medium. Allow to mix for 1 minute. Your dough should be sticky, but not gooey!
- Pour about 1 tsp olive oil into a large, oven-safe bowl and turn the bowl so olive oil coats all the inside of it. Grab your dough and roll it around in your hands to make a ball. Put the dough ball in your oil-coated bowl.
- By now, that 10 minute timer you set earlier for the oven should’ve gone off. Now it’s time to turn OFF the oven.
- Cover the bowl with the dough in it tightly with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in the warm oven, and close the door. (Make sure the oven is turned OFF!)
- Let the dough rise in the wrapped bowl for 30 minutes inside the warm oven, or until your dough has doubled in size. Then take it out of the oven.
To make your mac & cheese:
- While dough rises in the warm oven, make your mac & cheese.
- Cook pasta according to package instructions.
- To make your roux, melt butter in a pot over medium heat.
- Add flour and whisk to combine. Cook for 1-2 minutes, whisking constantly, until nutty and golden.
- Reduce heat to medium low and whisk in milk until smooth.
- Allow to simmer until thickened (about 5 minutes or so). Whisk periodically.
- Add shredded cheeses by the handfuls, whisking along the way until well incorporated.
- And salt and pepper, to taste.
- Add cooked pasta into cheese sauce and stir to coat.
- This is also a good time to cook your chopped bacon pieces!
- Add chopped bacon to a skillet over medium heat.
- Cook through, then stir bacon pieces into your baked beans.
To assemble your Pot Pie Pizza:
- Your risen dough ball should be double the original size and fluffy. Push down dough, and separate it into pieces. One piece should be ¾ of the risen dough (this is for the bottom of your pot pie), an the other should be ¼ of the dough (this is for the top). Roll each piece into a smooth ball with your hands.
- On a floured surface, roll/stretch the ¾-piece of the dough until about ¼ inch thick. Spread dough over a 9-inch deep round cake pan and gently press into the edges of the pan. (We recommend using a spring-form pan with a removable bottom, and layering a sheet of parchment on the bottom!)
- Layer in your fillings: BBQ pulled chicken, red onion slices, mac & cheese, green beans, corn, and baked beans mixed with bacon pieces. Feel free to top with any extra cheese left over from your mac & cheese!
- Stretch the other ¼ piece of dough over the top of the pie pan and crimp the edges of the dough.
- Cut 6 to 8 slits on top so it doesn’t explode in the oven!
- Spread BBQ sauce on top of crust and sprinkle with mozzarella (and/or parmesan) cheese.
- Bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for 20-25 minutes.
- Remove and allow to rest 15 minutes.
- Carefully slice into your BBQ Deep Dish Pot Pie Pizza, then eat the thing.
Yields 1 behemoth of a pizza pie.