Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza

Pizza is a favorite meal at our house.  It's an excellent vehicle for leftovers (except for pizza leftovers, which would be weird), and a Friday or Saturday night pizza pie is something to look forward to after a long work week.  For years, I'd been making pizza using the calzone recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook, and while it was good, it didn't have that East Coast-style crust that we miss living in Colorado.  Then, my wife got me Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day, which was a game-changer.  Now, delicious pizzas with that char on the crust are within reach.  We did it.  But it's not enough to sit on your laurels: reach higher.  Do more.  The new challenge was to make Chicago-style deep dish pizza.  I went with the King Arthur Flour recipe, with great but not perfect success.

Mise en place
Recipe: The Dough
17 oz. Unbleached AP Flour: $1.29
1.25 oz. Yellow Cornmeal: $0.13
1 3/4 tsp. Salt: $0.02
2 3/4 tsp. Instant Yeast: $1.42
7/8 oz. Olive Oil: $0.29
2 oz. Unsalted Butter: $1.04
7/8 oz. Vegetable Oil: $0.10
9 oz. Lukewarm Water
Dough Ingredients Total: $4.29

Making the dough itself couldn't be easier: just mix everything up and knead it for several minutes until it becomes a smooth dough.  It'll feel a little bit gritty because of the cornmeal.  Then, let it rise for an hour, and it'll look like this:

The risen dough

While it rises, prepare a couple 9" cake pans by hitting them with spray oil and drizzling a little bit of olive oil into them.  Roll the oil around so that it goes up along the sides, so it looks like this:

A prepared pan

A note about sauce: most of the Chicago-style pizza recipes I've seen call for a relatively unseasoned sauce: crushed tomatoes with a little Italian seasoning mixed into it.  As I love to make red sauce almost as much as I like to eat it, I deviated from the recipe and made my own pizza sauce. 

Recipe: The Sauce
1 28 oz. Can of Crushed Tomatoes: $1.89
1 tsp. Dried Basil: $0.02
1 tsp. Dried Oregano: $0.02
1 tsp. Dried Parsley: $0.02
1 tsp. Garlic Powder: $0.01
1 tsp. Onion Powder: $0.01
1/2 cup Shiraz (Any Red Wine): $1.50
Veggie Protein Crumbles: $4.95
Salt and Pepper to taste
Sauce Ingredients Total: $8.42

Mix everything into a saucepan and let it simmer on low for an hour.  It should be good to go then.  If you want it to taste even better, make the sauce the day before and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight so that the flavors really meld together. I decided to put in the veggie crumbles to make it almost like a bolognese sauce to add some fiber and protein.

Once the dough has risen, divide it in half, flatten it out some, put it into the pans, and begin shaping.  You want it to go up the sides so that you can put all the toppings inside the crust.  Like a pie.  Some of the olive oil will ooze up a bit over the sides, but it's okay.  When the dough starts to fight you a bit, cover it and let it rest for fifteen minutes.  After a couple of shapings, it should fill the pan the way you want it to.

After the first shaping

After the second shaping

The crust gets crunchy despite the heavy toppings inside it because of the pre-bake.  So you put the pan into the oven and bake it at 425 for ten minutes.  Mine rose more than I would have liked during its initial stint in the oven, so I pressed it back down a bit.  This is what it looked like after the pre-bake:

The slightly baked crust

According to the recipe, you put .375 lbs of sliced mozzarella cheese into each pan, then .5 lbs of sausage.  I put a half cup of half-skim shredded mozzarella ($0.86) and some chopped leftover turkey burgers inside ($2.55, approximately). 

First the cheese...

Then the meat...

Then the sauce...

Finally, a little grated Parmesan on top

I grated a little bit of Parmesan on top that we got from Zingerman's, and the pizzas went back into the oven for 25 minutes.  It's difficult to slip them out of the pans while they're not, but not as tough as it is to wait fifteen minutes for them to set up before eating. 

The waiting is the hardest part

Time for dinner!

They turned out really, really well.  The crust was crunchy and flaky from the butter and two kinds of oil, with a nice, toothsome bite from the cornmeal. It's a filling sort of pie, especially with the veggie crumbles.  My only problems were that the crust rose unexpectedly during the pre-bake, and that I didn't press it into the corners of the cake pan as much as I should have.  Despite that, I'm not at all disappointed with the final product.  It's a Chicago pizza.

Total Cost: $16.12
Cost Per Serving: $4.03

Compare that to a Chicago-style deep dish pizza: you can spend around $15.00 per same-sized pie at a restaurant or delivery place, and you don't have to tip the waiter at home.  You know what's in it, you know who handled it, and you can put in anything you want. 


  1. Your step by step photos and information is very helpful and your pizza turned out really nicely. I also make my own sauce for pizza. Basically I use my regular tomato sauce recipe, make a large batch and freeze some in one cup containers so I always have some on hand if I should decide to make pizza.

    With these great books on artisan bread baking and pizza stones making pizza at home is better than ever.

  2. Hi, Oriana:

    Our favorite pizza "sauce" recipe isn't much of a sauce at all: saute some sliced cherry tomatoes in olive oil and garlic, add some basil and red pepper, and let it simmer covered for a half hour. It's sort of like white pizza. Then, just spread it on the dough and bake it up. But for Chicago-style, I had to go with a heartier, marinara-style kind of sauce.

    I agree, RE: information on artisan bread baking and pizza stones. There are pizza places all over town, with lots more joints a phone call away for delivery, but none of them are anywhere near as good as what you can make in your own kitchen to your own tastes. All it takes is time.