As much as I like to cook, I've never been the type that can open up the refrigerator or cabinet and throw together a meal like I'm on an episode of Chopped. I must follow a recipe. With that said, I decided to step out of the comfort of step-by-step instructions recently when I tried recreating a recipe I saw featured in a video on Facebook.

The video is a clip from an old episode of the Food Network show, The Best Thing I Ever Ate, and features Chopped judge and restaurateur, Marc Murphy, discussing the Pizza Pot Pie at the Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company in Chicago, Illinois.
Looks amazing, right?

As someone who loves both pizza and chicken pot pie, this was something I had to try. Since a trip to Chicago isn't in the cards anytime soon, and unlike the popular Tasty videos on Facebook, there were no instructions in the video, nor was there a recipe link in the comments, I was going to have to recreate this using only the cooking knowledge I had.

Here's how it came together —

First up was finding a dish to cook them in. The video shows the restaurant using ceramic bowls, which can tolerate the heat of an oven without shattering. The bowls we have don't specify if they're oven safe, so we erred on the side of caution and went smaller with a few coffee mugs we had stored away.

Next we melted about half a stick of butter and slathered it all over the inside of each mug. This helps prevent the gobs of cheese from sticking, or worse yet, burning, to the inside of the mug.

It was now time for the cheese. As the video notes, the restaurant uses "Wisconsin Brick Cheese" which I had never heard of, so instead I opted for traditional sliced mozzarella. Due to the smaller size of our "bowl", I ripped each slice in half and laid each piece against the side of the bowl, making sure the bottom half of each slice also covered a portion of the bottom.

(Ryan O'Bryan)

From here it was simply a matter of layering our ingredients. We have two kids with different preferences so instead of throwing the meat and veggies in with the sauce, we kept everything separate so they could pick and choose.

For my "pie" I used jarred pizza sauce, pepperoni, chopped onion and green pepper we gave a quick sauté to soften them up and take the bite out of, and mushroom. We also had browned Italian sausage for those that wanted it.

We topped them off with a homemade pizza dough we threw together from a Bobby Flay recipe on the Food Network website, and threw them in the oven at 400 degrees (again, we're flying by the seat of our pants here, and 400 is a pretty standard baking temperature for most things).

(Ryan O'Bryan)

We checked them after 10 minutes and found the crust to be a nice golden brown on the outside.

Now the moment of truth; turning them over onto a plate to see if we came anywhere remotely close to the finished product in the video. We did have a little issue with the cheese not wanting to simple slide out like the video seems to suggest it will. It wasn't burnt to the sides, just really stringy as mozzarella tends to do when it melts. Now we didn't use anywhere near the same amount of cheese they did (which appears to be about 15 pounds worth PER BOWL!), so maybe that had something to do with, but we were able to scrap around the inside of the bowl with a rubber spatula to break everything loose.

Here's how it turned out:

(Ryan O'Bryan)

And here it is compared to the Chicago restaurant:

(Food Network / Ryan O'Bryan)

OK, so it's not much on looks by comparison, but it did taste really good! And at the end of the day that's all that matters.

While it was a little time consuming with the homemade dough, prepping the vegetables, and browning the sausage, it went over well with the whole family and will definitely will get made again.

A Couple of Notes...

  • Store brand pizza dough like the refrigerated Pillsbury brand would cut down on the prep time over the homemade dough which requires letting it sit a little over an hour to rise. Personally, I don't like the flavor the store brand which is why we opted for the homemade.
  • On that note, regardless of which dough you use, we learned the dough bakes more evenly if you take a small chunk, roll it into a ball, then flatten it out evenly with a rolling pin like you would if you were making a regular pizza. We tried simply smashing the dough in our hand and stretching it to fit a couple of the cups which left thicker pockets that didn't cook all the way through.
  • Figure out a way to mark each pie if everyone uses different ingredients. We tried wrapping small strips of aluminum foil around different parts of the cup handles (top, middle, bottom) to differentiate who's was who's. It might be fun to tear off small strips of dough and form the first letter of each person's name then lay those on top before baking.
  • While our coffee cups worked, there's not much space to play with when it came to packing in the ingredients. Definitely use a bowl if possible.

Finally, here's a recipe based on how we did it if you'd like to try it at your house.

Ingredients

  • Pizza Dough (Refrigerated or Homemade)
  • Flour
  • 1-2 jars of pizza sauce
  • Onion, green pepper, mushrooom, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. Cooking oil (optional)
  • Pepperoni
  • 1 lb. Italian Sausage
  • 2-3 packages individually sliced mozzarella cheese
  • 4 Tbsp. Butter (approximately half a stick)
  • Oven safe Ceramic bowls

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown and drain Italian sausage, set aside. In the same skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat, and saute onion and green pepper (optional).

Melt butter in microwave and baste the inside of each dish with a basting brush.

Layer sliced cheese in each dish making sure the bottom of each is covered, and some cheese lays over the rim. Add sauce to the center and top with your choice of ingredients. Tear off a chunk of dough, roll into a ball using your hands, and flatten evenly with a rolling pin on a well-floured surface until large enough to cover the bowl.

Place bowls on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.