pequods pizza caramelized crust

A popular style of pizza to emerge from Chicago, the deep dish pizza is a food connoisseur’s delight. Nobody knows who invented it, although Ike Sewell or his chef Rudy Malnati from Pizzeria Uno often get the credit for coming up with the concept in 1946. However, there are also reports that Saverio Rosati, who ran Rosati’s Authentic Chicago Pizza, invented it in the late 1920s. Whatever its origins, the deep-dish pizza can be a fun project to undertake in the comfort of your own home.

While the process isn’t hard, it takes a little time to finish all the steps, but it’s definitely worth it. Check out this basic recipe for a classic Chicago-style deep-dish pizza.

Crust

You will need the following ingredients to make the pizza crust:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour.
  • 3 tablespoons yellow cornmeal.
  • 2 tablespoons semolina.
  • 1 teaspoon salt.
  • 2 teaspoons or 1 packet active yeast.
  • 2 cups warm water (around 90 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil.

Mix the all-purpose flour, yellow cornmeal, semolina, salt, and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add half of the butter, olive oil, vegetable oil, and warm water to the mixture. Knead it into a soft dough that slowly bounces back if you poke it. The kneading should take around 10 minutes by hand or about five minutes with a stand mixer. Add more water if it feels too hard and more flour if it feels too soft. Form the dough into a ball, and place it in an oiled bowl, turning it to cover it with oil.

Cover the bowl with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a dish towel, and set it aside in a warm area to rise for one or two hours, or until it doubles in size.

After the dough has risen, place it on a lightly floured flat surface, punch it down, and use a rolling pin to spread it into a rectangle about the size of a sheet pan. Apply the remaining melted butter over it, and roll it up into a cylinder. You can repeat this process two or three more times for a flakier pizza crust.

Divide the final rolled cylinder into two, and roll each half into a ball. Put each of these into separate greased bowls, and cover them again. Place the bowls in the refrigerator so the dough can rise for about an hour. Each ball of dough can make one pizza.

Take a 9-inch deep-dish pizza pan, cake pan, or cast iron pan and brush it thoroughly with vegetable oil. Add olive oil over this coating, and gently tilt the pan about until the oil is evenly distributed. Make sure that its sides also get covered.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Take one of the risen dough balls, roll it out flat into a 12-inch circle that is about 1/8 of an inch in thickness, and place it carefully into the oiled pan. Press it in at the base and on the sides. Apply another coat of butter to the top of the dough. After letting it rest for 15 minutes, bake for 10 minutes until the crust sets and turns slightly brown.

Follow the same method with the second dough ball in a separate pan. Alternatively, you can tightly wrap the dough in plastic wrap and freeze it for up to three months.

Parbaking the crust helps it keep its form and prevents it from getting soggy once you add all of your sauce and toppings. You can complete this step right before you begin assembling your pizza so you don’t need to turn your oven off and on again or leave it on while you’re finishing the other steps.

Sauce

homemade deep dish pizza
Image via Flickr by Thriving Vegetarian 

To make the tomato sauce, you will need:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter.
  • 1 grated onion.
  • 2 teaspoons salt.
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano.
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes.
  • 4 or 5 minced garlic cloves.
  • 4 or 5 chopped tomatoes.
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar.

Place a pan over medium heat and add the butter, onion, salt, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook until the onion turns slightly brown, which takes about five minutes. Then add the minced garlic cloves, chopped tomatoes, and sugar. Stirring occasionally, cook the mixture for about 30 minutes until it thickens and the tomatoes break down.

Toppings

One of the best things about deep-dish pizza is that you have plenty of space for as many toppings as you want. Here are some of our favorite pizza toppings:

  • 3 to 4 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese.
  • 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese.
  • 1/2 cup pepperoni.
  • 2 slices of crumbled and cooked bacon.
  • 1/2 cup sliced and cooked sausage.
  • 2 to 3 diced tomatoes.
  • 1 cup sliced and cooked peppers.
  • 1/2 cup sliced and cooked onions.
  • 1/2 cup sliced and cooked mushrooms.
  • 6 to 7 sliced olives.

Assembly

Take your pan with the parbaked crust and sprinkle the mozzarella on the base. Notice that this is totally the opposite of what you would do with a regular pizza, and with good reason. Since deep-dish pizzas take longer to cook, the cheese will burn if you put it on top. Add your favorite toppings next, arranging them in layers. Then pour the cooked tomato sauce over these until it covers everything. Sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese over the sauce layer and drizzle the cheese with olive oil.

Bake the pizza at 425 degrees F for about 30 minutes or until the filling starts to bubble. Then remove the pizza from the oven, let cool for 10 to 15 minutes, and remove it from the pan.

There you have it! That’s an authentic Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. Use a chef’s knife to cut it. Most people use a knife and fork to eat this pie. Serve your deep dish with side dishes like salad, pickles, french fries, or buffalo wings for a more fulfilling and nutritional dining experience. Enjoy!