Category Archives: Chicago Pizza

Chicago-Style Pizza

The first thing to do when setting out to make a Chicago-style deep dish pizza is to disabuse yourself of the notion that what you are about to make is in any way Italian. It’s American fast food, and if you want it to be good, you must treat it as such. That means premium-quality ingredients, not gourmet ones. No San Marzano tomatoes, fresh buffalo mozzarella or Italian flour. Del Monte, Kraft and General Mills are fine (and probably better than what the actual pizzeria is using). So don’t get fancy, since that impulse will work against creating the perfect Chicago pie.

So then, using the recipe below, proceed as follows. Combine all your dry ingredients in a bowl like so…

…and whisk lightly to blend (yes this is going to be a detailed tutorial since the dough preparation is the most important part of the process).

Add your cooked and riced (or finely grated) potato…

…and work it into the mixture with your fingers.

Repeat the process with the oil. Pour it in…

…fold it in a little with a spatula…

…then finish working it in by hand…tum-tee-tum-tum…

Now all you need to add is your lukewarm water…

Again fold it in a bit, then knead it lighty — very lightly — by hand until it comes together in a ball.

Kneading lightly is important since you want to avoid activating much gluten if you can. You’ll invariably get some going, but be gentle here. It doesn’t need to be perfectly smooth…just about like so:

Now for a short rising (is your oven preheating?). The idea here is to let the yeast go just long enough to create a few crust-lightening bubbles, but not so many that the dough loses its fundamental density. An hour to 75 minutes at the most, by which time it won’t have risen demonstrably, however it will get little bit spongy. About like so:

Now we’re ready to shape it into a crust. Flour your rolling surface and apply the pin, rolling it out to a roughly twelve-inch circle. I use a ten-inch straight-sided tart pan for this (the photo up at the top makes it look like it’s flared out like a pie pan, but that’s just the macro lens perpective). A pizza pan will obviously work just fine too.

Drape the dough over your pan and press it down into the corners. Did you tear it? No problem, stick it back together. Is it too thin one one side? Then rip a little excess off from somewhere and stick it down where you need it. This dough ain’t fussy.

Once that’s done “dock” it with a fork to keep it from bubbling up in the oven (don’t forget those pan corners!).

Then parbake it for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Once that’s done you can let the crust sit for as long as you like (though not more than a few hours). When you’re ready cover the bottom with mozzarella. Hey! Is that pre-grated mozzarella??? Of course it is! Haven’t you been listening to what I’ve been saying?

Then put on your toppings (I don’t recommend any more than two, three tops, and then only a scarce scattering).

Then splatter heaping spoonfuls of sauce onto the top of the pizza. Not too thick now, just enough to redden the top. On which note you need not cover everything, about 80 percent is dandy.

There now, all ready for the oven. That wasn’t so hard now was it?

Bake for half an hour — on a pizza stone — at 375, until the cheese bubbles up around the sides and turns golden. Do not “rest” the finished pizza. Eat.

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Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza

This recipe is a close match to the legendary Gino’s East cornmeal crust.

The Ingredients:

7 ounces (1 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour
3 ounces (1/2 cup) cooked russet potato, grated (or riced) and cooled
2 ounces (1/2 cup) finely ground yellow corn meal
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) vegetable oil
3.5 ounces (1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons) lukewarm water

The Procedure:

Whisk the flour, corn meal, yeast, and salt together. Add the potato, rubbing it into the mixture with your fingers to make sure it’s evenly distributed. Do the same with the vegetable oil. Making a small well in the center of the mixture, add the water, kneading it in gently by hand until the dough is smooth and uniform, about 30 – 45 seconds. Let the dough rise at room temperature for 45 minutes-2 hours depending on how dense or bready you prefer your crust (if less than an hour it may not rise perceceptibly).

Put a pizza stone on a lower rack of your oven and preheat to 400 degrees — a full 45 minutes before you’re planning to bake. When ready, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and roll thinly, roughly to shape. Press it into a 10″ or 11″ pizza, tart or springform pan, leaving a 1-inch lip around the sides (longer-rising doughs will have excess).

Poke holes all around with a fork and par-bake the crust on the stone for 13-15 minutes. Take the crust out of the oven and turn the heat down to 375. Sprinkle pizza with mozzarella cheese, then desired toppings. Top it with your favorite sauce (recipe below if you need one) by splattering heavy spoonfuls over the fillings (don’t worry if the coverage isn’t perfect, you only need to cover about 80% of the total area with sauce). Sprinkle a little fresh-grated parmesan on to finish. Bake on the stone 20-30 minutes or until the edges are golden and the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.

Joe’s Pizza Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 small onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (or half a dozen fresh leaves, torn)
1 28-ounce can tomatoes (not San Marzanos)
1-2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tablespoons tomato paste

Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and fry for 1-2 minutes, or until a sudden wave of garlic smell sweeps out of the pan, telling you it’s ready. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the dried spices and sauté 3-4 minutes more. Put in the tomatoes, crush them with a potato masher, add salt and a couple grindings of pepper, and simmer for 20 minutes. Balance sauce by adding sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the tomato paste and simmer 5 more minutes.

Recipe should make enough sauce for 2 pizzas, depending on how much you like (I usually splatter on about 1 1/2 cups per pizza). It freezes well in tupperware or quart-sized freezer bags.

Filed under:  Bread, Chicago Pizza, Pizza | 12 Comments