Once I had thrown together the pound version of our favorite whole-wheat pizza dough and it was off rising, I started working on the meaty filling. I added few links worth of hot Italian turkey sausage, along with a cup of chopped onion, into a skillet and tossed the duo around the pan until the sausage crumbled and caramelized. You can use regular Italian sausage if you like, but be sure to drain the mixture well, once browned, so it doesn't get too greasy. Pizza sauce, sliced pepperoni, basil, oregano and crushed red pepper are then stirred in for a zesty filling - I used eight ounces (about a cup or so) of a homemade spicy pizza sauce that I had in the freezer, but feel free to use your favorite kind.
We took a good amount of the whole-wheat dough and stretched it large enough so it would cover the bottom and crawl up the sides of a springform pan. We scattered enough shreds of mozzarella cheese to cover the inside bottom of the crust and then packed in the robust meaty filling. We didn't use that much cheese to cover the bottom, so more mozzarella is then tossed around with thawed and drained frozen spinach, along with a beaten egg, to be layered on top.
Now I said "a good amount" of the dough earlier because you'll be saving a portion of it to make a top crust for the pizza! The remaining dough is stretched out into a thin round and sliced into wedges - they are then overlapped in a circular pattern and secured to the edges of the crust already inside to completely enclose the filling. I suppose you don't have to slice it up to arrange the dough on top, but it makes for a nice presentation. After all those stretchy wedges were on, we brushed them with melted butter and sprinkled on fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
After the very heavy springform was slid into the oven, we baked the pizza until the crust was a rich golden brown and the hidden filling inside was hot. With those additions of cheese and butter on that top crust, keep an eye on it after about 30 minutes or so - if it looks like the crust is getting too dark, don't be afraid to slip a sheet of foil over the top to protect it. Jeff wasn't around when I was preparing this, so imagine his surprise when I sliced it open to find out what was inside!
The crust was thin and crisp, but still had enough thickness to it that it still had a little chew (especially the edge... my favorite!). The filling was just spicy enough, but not so much it felt like it was all you could taste - the filling was saucy enough to keep it moist, but it was not wet in the sense that everything slid out as we sliced it. Besides it being visually interesting between the redness of the meaty filling and the green spinach layer, the spinach added a light contrast to the heavier portion beneath it. I sliced mine into 6 portions since we were especially hungry, but you could easily get 8 out of it and still have good-sized pieces (and I guess it would have made more sense to slice that top crust into 6 wedges if you do this... I didn't think that far ahead!). Jeff said he thinks it will be quite hard to top this pizza... and I will have to agree!
Meaty Deep-Dish Pizza