Dish of the Week: Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we’re taking a look at Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza.

Made in a specialized deep and round pan, Chicago-style deep-dish pizza has a pan-crisped and golden crust that is thick enough to hold up the colossal amount of cheese, sauce and toppings piled inside in a pie like manor. Way sloppier than you’re brick-oven, Neopolitan-style pie, it's best eaten with a fork and knife (at least to start) and a ton of napkins.

While Chicagoans most definitely argue about who makes the best deep dish in town – Lou Malnati’s, Gino’s East, and Giordano’s* are all big contenders, most can agree on where it was first served.

*Note: Gino’s East has already migrated to Houston and Giordano’s has plans to expand here as well, so eventually you’ll be able to run a mini taste test of your own!

According to food historian Tim Samuelson, though the exact inventor of the style of pizza is unclear, the earliest documentation of the Chicago-style pie reaches back to the early 1940s at a restaurant on East Ohio at Wabash. That restaurant – known as The Pizzeria in 1943, then later as Pizzaria Ricardo – has been known as Pizzeria Uno since 1955. 

Over time, Pizzeria Uno and its sibling restaurant. Pizzeria Due, have employed several people that went on to create other big name pizza joints, including Lou Malnati’s and Gino’s East, among others.

Each place has their own unique approach to Chicago-style deep dish pies – some incorporate butter into the dough for a more crumbly texture, for example. Regardless, they all have similar trademarks: a chubby crust made golden brown from an oiled deep dish pan; a bright, chunky tomato sauce; and hefty amount of sliced cheese and toppings – most notably Italian sausage.

This recipe, adapted from Emeril Lagasse, makes two 12-inch round deep dish pies. If you don’t have 12-inch round deep pans, feel free to substitute a deep cast iron skillet.

Chicago-style Deep Dish Sausage Pizza

Ingredients yields 2 12-inch deep dish pies
For the dough:
1 1/2 cups warm water (about 110 degrees F)
1 (1/4-ounce) packages active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup semolina flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus 2 tsp to grease bowl
1 tsp salt

For the pie:
Prepared dough
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh garlic
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) can plum tomatoes, coarsely crushed
1 tbsp dry red wine
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
1 pound crumbled hot Italian sausage
1 cup grated Parmesan

For the dough: In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, and sugar and stir to combine. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the semolina, 1/2 cup of the oil, and the salt, mixing by hand until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Continue adding the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, working the dough after each addition, until all the flour is incorporated but the dough is still slightly sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth but still slightly tacky, 3 to 5 minutes. Oil a large mixing bowl with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil.

Place the dough in the bowl and turn to oil all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Divide into 2 equal portions and use as directed.

For the pie:
While the dough is rising, make the tomato sauce. In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the herbs, seeds, salt, and black and red peppers, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, wine and sugar, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely before using.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Oil 2 seasoned 12-inch round deep-dish pizza pans with the extra-virgin olive oil. Press 1 piece of dough into each pan, pressing to the edge and stretching about 1 1/2 inches up the sides. Let rest for 5 minutes.

Layer the mozzarella cheese all over the bottom of the pies. Top each with half of the sausage. Ladle the sauce evenly over each pizza and top with Parmesan.

Bake until the top is golden and the cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden brown, about 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven, slice and serve hot.
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Brooke Viggiano is a contributing writer who is always looking to share Houston's coolest and tastiest happenings with the Houston Press readers.
Contact: Brooke Viggiano