I was born and raised in Chicago. In fact, I spent most of my life there. And I know that quite often if someone says they are from Chicago you eventually find out they lived in one of the adjoining suburbs. But not me. I was born on the South Side, raised in Brighton Park went to college in Illinois and moved to the North side when I got my job with the Chicago Park District. I lived on the North Side in the Lake View area until we moved from Chicago in 1999.
I live right outside of Boulder, Colorado now and although this is God’s country there are certain things I will always miss about Chicago. I miss the various modes of transportation in Chicago, especially cabs. I miss the diversity of Chicago, it doesn’t really exist here to the same degree. And I miss the food in Chicago – the restaurants are beyond compare and often within walking distance of where you live.
I think two of the hallmark foods associated with Chicago are hot dogs and pizza. There are strict rules you must follow when preparing and eating these culinary delights and are they ever worth it. Every once in a while I get such a taste for a Chicago-style hot dog or some deep dish pizza. You just can’t find anything comparable here.
So it was to our delight when a friend of ours emailed us and said he saw online the recipe for deep dish pizza from one of the most renowned pizza parlors in Chicago. The recipe was published by a disgruntled employee. It’s my understanding that it was only online for a short time, but time enough for some to grab hold of it. Our friend was one of them and he emailed the recipe to us.
We’ve made this several times and each time we get better at it. And beyond compare, this tastes exactly like the pizza we used to get in Chicago. So it is my pleasure to share it with you and also to give you my lessons learned after making it for several years.
RECIPE RATING: A++++++ If you love Chicago style deep dish pizza you will LOVE this. We could not believe how good it was when we first made it. Nor could we believe how it tasted exactly like the pizza we used to get at one of the most well known pizza establishments in Chicago. I won’t name it so that I can share the recipe with you. This pizza is to die for! You simply must try it.
Lesson Learned 1 – Invest in a deep dish pizza pan: We use a pizza pan that is twelve inches in diameter by 2 1/2 inches tall. It is the perfect size for this recipe, crust and all. When you get it, make sure you season it before you use it. If the pan does not come with seasoning instructions, just go online and look up how to season a pizza pan. Our pan is so well seasoned that the pizza pops right out. This type of pan is a must for this pizza recipe.
Lesson Learned 2 – Follow the recipe down to the letter: If you want the pizza to taste like Chicago style pizza, you cannot stray from the basic ingredients. The only culinary license you have are the “toppings” so to speak. By that I mean will it be only a cheese pizza, sausage and mushroom, will you add green peppers or olives? That you can choose. But the basics must remain the same. One of the key ingredients is the sauce (or gravy as the true Italians call it). There is a very specific brand of sauce you must use and, at least out here in Colorado, it is not available in local grocery stores. It is called 6 & 1 All Purpose Ground Tomatoes with added extra heavy puree. For those of you living in Colorado you can find it at Valentes Italian Deli in Westminster. For my Chicago friends, I am sure if you have an Italian Deli near your home they will have it. The owner of Valentes told me that people drive from four different states to pick up cases of this stuff. And you must use only this. Otherwise you will not get the consistency or flavor that you want. Regular canned tomatoes from the grocery store are too watery for this recipe.
Lesson Learned 3 – Be patient: you may find that it will take a couple of times to master this recipe. Our challenge was the crust and getting it so that it wasn’t too thick. Eventually we figured out how to roll it out so that we had very little adjusting to do when fitting it into the pan. For us, making the dough was easy but getting it to fit in the pan and not be too thick was the challenge. All I can say is that this recipe is definitely worth the trial and error for putting it together, especially if you love Chicago style deep dish pizza.
Anyone who has ever lived in Chicago or loves Chicago style deep dish pizza will love this recipe. Feel free to pass it on. It’s a great way to get great Chicago pizza no matter where you live. Enjoy, and I’d love to hear from you once you’ve made this!
Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza
1 cup water
1/3 cup oil (80% corn oil/20% extra virgin olive oil)
1 packet quick rise yeast (only if using the dough the same day, otherwise regular yeast)
1 Tbs. sugar
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
3 cups bread flour
1/4 cup corn flour or corn meal (if using cornmeal sift before combining with bread flour) plus extra to sprinkle on the bottom of the pizza pan
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
Sliced mozzarella, enough to cover the bottom of the pizza (do not used packaged grated mozzarella)
1 28 oz. can of 6 & 1 All Purpose Ground Tomatoes (see picture above)
Grated Romano and Parmesan blend (enough to cover the top of the pizza)
Other pizza ingredients: (if using sausage or pepperoni precook until 75% done – ingredients like green peppers, mushrooms, etc., cook and add as dry as possible so as not to make the crust soggy)
In a large bowl combine water (temp. no higher than 115 degrees for quick rise yeast), yeast, sugar and cream of tartar. Whisk until dissolved. Stir in oil. Combine flour and cornmeal and mix with yeast until consistency of dough is no longer sticky. Remove from bowl and knead. (I use my stand mixer with the dough hook and knead for about 4 minutes – if you don’t have a stand mixer knead by hand for about 10 minutes). Roll the dough into a ball and very lightly coat the outside of the dough with oil. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a dishtowel and let rise for a minimum of 4 hours (or overnight if not using quick rise yeast).
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat a 12 inch by 2 1/2 inch pizza pan with butter and sprinkle lightly with cornmeal. Punch down dough (it will rise quite a bit) and roll it out on a lightly floured surface to allow for 1/4 inch of dough all over the pan including the walls of the pan. Arrange the dough in the pizza pan. Place dough in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and cover the dough with mozzarella slices. Top with other ingredients (sausage, mushrooms, etc.) and top with the ground tomatoes. Lightly sprinkle with oregano, garlic salt and basil. Top with the Romano/Parmesan blend. Place back in the oven and continue baking for about 25 minutes.
Turn off the oven. Remove the pan from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes on the stove and then put the pan back in the cooling oven for about 5 minutes. (this is necessary for the pizza to set).
Slice and enjoy!