Visitors to Chicago make a point of stopping by some of the city’s most famous downtown pizzerieas — Uno’s, Due’s, Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s among them — to try some Chicago style deep dish pizza.
This dense style of pizza has a buttery crust and is so rich that it’s a challenge to eat more than a single slice or two. Still, it’s got great flavor and is a unique dining experience.
People from Chicago, however, hardly ever go to any of those places (unless they are entertaining visitors from out of town, of course) because deep dish pizza is so heavy and filling that it can only be enjoyed once in a great while if you want to avoid a heart attack.
For all the thousands of pizzas I’ve made at home, I have never attempted a deep dish pizza. Until now.
The interesting thing about deep dish pizza, other than its thickness, is that it is made upside down. Unlike an ordinary pizza, which has sauce on the bottom, toppings in the middle, and mozzarella cheese on top, deep dish pizza has the tomato sauce on the top and the mozzarella cheese on the bottom.
Another difference is that a deep dish’s crust has a much higher fat content than ordinary pizza crust. And it gets its buttery flavor from, you guessed it, lots and lots of whole butter.
And in contrast to the smooth tomato sauce used for ordinary pizza, deep dish has a chunky sauce made from roughly chopped tomatoes. And don’t forget the cheese. Lots and lots of fresh mozzarella and a thick coating of grated parmesan on top make this one of the cheesiest dishes you can make.
No wonder you can only eat one or two slices. This deep dish pizza ended up weighing about five pounds! Still, it was delicious and we were able to feed off it for several days.
Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza
For the Crust
4 cups All-Purpose Flour
3 TBS Yellow Cornmeal
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 TBS Instant Yeast
2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 TBS Butter, melted
2 TBS Vegetable Oil
1 cup + 2 TBS Lukewarm Water
For the Filling
3/4 lb Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, grated or sliced thin
1 lb. Bulk Italian Sausage, mild or hot, cooked
28-oz can Diced Tomatoes
4 Garlic Cloves
1 TBS Granulated Sugar
1 TBS Italian Seasoning
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1 cup Grated Parmesan
2 TBS EVOO
1. To make the crust, place the lukewarm water in the bowl of your Kitchen Aid then whisk in the yeast. Meanwhile, in a separate mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt and cornmeal. When the liquid begins to bubble, attach the dough hook to the mixer, turn it on medium speed, then slowly add the flour, butter, olive oil and vegetable oil and mix until a dough is formed, about 5 minutes. I usually knead my doughs by hands for few minutes afterwards.
2. Oil the sides of a mixing bowl then transfer the dough to the bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel and place the bowl in a warm, draft-free place so the dough can rise. After about an hour, the dough will have doubled in size. Punch it down, knead it a few more times then leave it on the counter covered with the kitchen towel to rest for a few minutes.
3. Spray a 14-inch deep dish pizza pan (I used my cast iron skillet) with pan spray, then add 2 TBS of EVOO to the pan and tilt it around to cover the bottom and partway up the sides with the oil.
4. Use your hands or a rolling pin to stretch the dough out into a circle that is slightly larger than your pan. Transfer it to the pan and press it down so that it fits snugly. Cover it with the kitchen towel and let it rise for about 30 minutes.
5. While dough is rising in the pan, preheat your oven to 425F. To make the sauce, drain the tomatoes well, then combine them in a mixing bowl with the garlic, sugar, Italian seasoning and salt. Mix well.
6. When dough is ready, use your fingers to press the bottom and sides back down, then fill the bottom with the mozzarella. If you are using freshly grated, you will need to press it down firmly into the bottom of the pan so there’s room for the other ingredients.
9. Finally add the grated parmesan and drizzle with the 2 TBS of EVOO.
10. Bake at 425F for 25 minutes or until the filling is bubbly and the topping is golden brown. Remove the pie from the oven and carefully transfer it from the pan to a cooling rack. Let it rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing it.
This pizza is extremely rich. It’s got three different kinds of oil in it, not to mention the fats from the cheeses. In Chicago, we are proud of our deep dish pizza. We just can’t eat it very often.