Monday, April 25, 2011

Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza

Chicago deep dish pizza.  If you've never had it, you can't even begin to understand the delicious lie that it is.  It's not really a pizza... it's a monster.  If you've eaten one and you're not from Chicago, you went home and told all your friends and family how awesome it was.  And if you live in Chicago, you have your favourite... probably Giordano's (which is my favourite), or Gino's, or Lou Malnati's.  And if you're like me, you've lived in Chicago and moved... and sometimes late at night, when you're alone, you cry a little for some real Chicago deep dish pizza.  Well, after four years of living in California with only one visit home, I decided I had to make my own, because I couldn't bring myself to fork out the $50 to have it shipped to me frozen.  I researched different recipes, tried to find what sounded right to me, and I made myself one hell of a Chicago pizza!  In fact, I'm going to brag and tell you that I think it was better than some of the afore mentioned restaurants' pizzas!  I put a can of Coke there for size-reference.  ;)

If you're not familiar with a Chicago pizza... it's a thick crust, and the cheese goes on the bottom.  Then your toppings.  Then the sauce goes on top.  You can't eat it with your hands (unless it's leftover cold pizza the next day).  And you'd be hard pressed to eat more than two pieces at a time... one is pretty much enough.  Don't let this recipe intimidate you... it looks lengthy, but it's not too hard.  Really it's like this: mix part of the dough, let rise, add the rest, knead, let rise.  Punch it, let rise.  Add toppings.  Bake.  See... it's easy!  You just need a few hours for all the rising and baking (and a cast iron skillet or a deep-dish pizza pan).  And I apologize in advance... I made homemade marinara for this, and I always just wing my marinara, so I didn't consider writing down measurements for the recipe. :\  I will do this next time!

We were going to make this Saturday, but our guests' schedules worked better for Sunday... which happened to be Easter.  So we celebrated Zombie Day with pizza, chocolate, dice, and good company!  We tend to lean away from the traditions of the church... far, far away.  (Except that Justin said pizza is Italian, and the Italians were the ones who crucified Jesus, so in a way, it's quite befitting and following the church.)  And though there were a few excellent punk rock songs that would have fit this post well... Justin and I both thought that Bad Religion's "Don't Pray On Me" was the best song for this recipe.  It is on the album titled "Recipe for Hate" and surely someone is going to be offended for my non-interest in the Christian faith... so it really has all come together in the end!  Don't let your hate spoil your appetite though... this pizza rocks!  -jen

  • 1/4 ounce packet Quick Rise yeast
  • 1 and 1/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar 
  • 3 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup medium-grind yellow cornmeal 
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 
  • 1/2 cup olive oil , plus
  • 1/2 pound Provolone, sliced 1/8" thick
  • 1/2 pound Mozzarella, sliced 1/8" thick
  • pizza toppings*
  • 2 to 3 cups marinara
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
* If using Italian sausage, do not pre-cook it.  Add to pizza in raw form.  Suggestions for other pizza ingredients: chopped or sliced red onion, green onion, pepperoni, mushrooms, fresh garlic, green or black olives, fresh basil, sweet peppers, spinach - whatever!)

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup of the warm water. Add the sugar and 1/4 cup of the flour and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes (I have a gas oven, so I set it in the middle of the stove top, towards the back. Or you can turn your oven to it's lowest heat, open the door all the way, and just set the bowl on the open door.)

Add the remaining 1 cup warm water and 3 cups flour, the cornmeal, salt, and 1/2 cup olive oil.  If using a stand mixer, first use mixing attachment to combine, then switch to dough kneader and run for 10 minutes.

If not using a stand mixer, stir the dough with a wooden spoon to combine.  Turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface and knead until soft and elastic, 10 to 12 minutes. It will be a little sticky, but shouldn't stick to your hands. 

Lightly coat a large bowl with olive oil. Add the dough and turn to coat on all sides.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place a clean, damp, kitchen towel over the top.  Set the bowl in a warm spot and let rise until doubled in volume, 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours. (For a slow rise, place the covered bowl in the refrigerator and let rise for 10 to 12 hours, returning dough to room temperature before using).

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

When the dough has doubled in volume, punch it down and knead it for 2 to 3 minutes. Coat a 14" cast iron skillet well with olive oil or butter.  (If using a 12" cast iron skillet, remove 1/4 of the dough and use for something else - pepperoni twists, cheesy garlic sticks, etc.)  Sprinkle a dusting of corn meal over the oiled pan.  Press the dough evenly into the bottom and up the sides.  Let the dough rise in the pan for 15 to 20 minutes.

Place a layer of Provolone cheese on dough, then add a layer of Mozzarella.  Continue adding all remaining toppings in layers (except the olives, I sprinkle those on top of the sauce.)  If using raw sausage, I suggest tearing it into finger-tip size pieces to guarantee thorough cooking.  Gently ladle sauce to completely cover toppings.  Add grated Parmesan and olives.

Place in a 325 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, then turn heat up to 475 and cook an additional 15-20 minutes.  Crust should be golden brown and Parmesan should be golden.

Remove and let sit at least 20 minutes to allow the ingredients to firm up.  If you try to serve right away, you'll have a soupy mess that's impossible to serve. 


  1. Looks great, Jen. I've also used a combo of mozzerella and goat cheese on the bottom with excellent results.

    Chris T.

  2. Trying this tonight....will report back! Looks awesome though.

    1. I'm cracking up. I was looking at this recipe and when I saw the labels....Bad Religion, Punk rock...Don't pray for me...etc. I thought...BILLY!!! Sure enough... were you involved in this...LOL.

      Love you are my cuz...your dad is my uncle making you my cuz.

    2. Nice! Have you had Chicago deep dish before, Bill? -jen