There are a few things that say Chicago quite like the Bulls, Cubs Wrigley Field, or deep dish pizza. The good news is that you don't have to travel all the way to the Windy City to enjoy the authentic flavor of deep dish pizza. With a bit of practice, you can be an expert Chicagoan home pizzaiolo.
Chef Pomodoro has gathered some of the best tips to help you make delicious deep dish pizza in the comfort of your own kitchen.
What is Chicago Deep Dish Pizza?
Deep dish pizza is essentially a luxuriously rich pie. Don’t let its towering stature fool you — the crust of a good deep dish pizza is actually quite thin. Its height comes from the generous amounts of cheese, sauce, and toppings
It's made in a signature deep, round, metal pan. One of the hallmarks of the Chicago deep dish pizza is that it has the cheese directly on top of the crust. The cheese’s placement helps to create a moisture barrier between the crust and the sauce, keeping the crust crispy, golden-brown, and delicious.
1. Use the Right Pan
In your home kitchen, you can (theoretically) use anything that is deep enough and gets hot enough to make your deep dish pizza.
Some home chefs use a cast-iron skillet, which reaches higher temperatures. This allows them to make the base and sides extra crispy. The main problem here is that a skillet isn’t very deep. This means that you might have to skimp on the cheese, sauce, toppings, or all three.
A casserole dish is nice and deep for extra toppings, but we’ve found that an authentic 12-inch, deep dish sheet pan still works best. A sheet pan made specifically for deep dish provides great depth, it reaches high temperatures, and it even leaves space for you to fold the crust in around the edge for that extra crunch.
2. Use the Right Dough
Try as it may, basic pizza dough simply cannot hold up to the rigorous requirements of deep dish pizza. All the cheese, sauce, and toppings that go into a deep dish pizza are too heavy and soggy for dough that is naturally soft and puffy.
The best type of dough to use in your deep dish pizza is enriched dough, which contains some source of fat (butter is an excellent choice). Adding a source of fat to your deep dish dough is important because:
- It strengthens the dough, allowing it to hold up to the extra lashings of filling
- It allows you to laminate the dough which makes it flaky, light, and extra crunchy.
- It gives the dough a decadently smooth buttery flavor.
Also, don’t forget to add some cornmeal. While it’s usually used as peel dust, cornmeal plays a vital role in adding extra flavor, texture, and crispiness to your base.
One of the advantages of making deep dish pizza is that it works really well with gluten-free flour. Because everything is held together by the deep dish pan, you don't need the strands of gluten to hold everything together as much as in a regular pizza.
3. Use the Right Sauce
The key to a delicious pizza of any variety is the sauce. Authentic pizza sauce is made from tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, basil, salt, and sugar. For extra authenticity, the tomatoes need to be mulched by hand.
The key to a delicious, non-soggy deep dish pizza is a thick sauce. Making your sauce extra thick is actually quite simple. Don’t add any extra cornflour or other thickeners. Instead, allow your sauce to simmer on the stove for an extra 45 minutes - 1 hour. This reduces the sauce, evaporating extra moisture and thickening it up.
4. Use Plenty of Oil
Before you press the dough into your dish, make sure that you liberally apply oil to the bottom of your pan. And when we say liberally, we literally mean LIBERALLY.
Put 3 times more oil in the pan than you normally would for anything else. This helps to crisp up the base and provide a firm foundation for your delicious tower of cheese. Remember, your deep dish pizza-tower has to hold a lot of moisture.
5. Crank up the Heat
All pizzas need to cook hot. If your oven isn’t hot enough, your base will end up soggy, and your deep dish pizza could fall apart in your hands.
Preheat your oven to 450°F before baking your deep dish pizza for 25-30 minutes. We suggest using a pizza stone underneath your dish to make sure that you get the extra heat that you need for a crispy base.
6. Pre-bake the Base
If you’re struggling to get your base to hold up to the extra moisture in the sauce and toppings, try to pre-bake the base for 10 minutes at 450℉ before you layer on the cheese, sauce, and toppings. This helps to create a firm foundation and stops the sauce from seeping through. There’s nothing worse than a soggy bottom. Ugh.
(Bonus Tip) 7. Cool, Then Cut
Once you’ve cooked your delicious deep dish pizza, don’t let all the goodness escape. Allow your pizza to cool for 15 minutes before carving out a Sears Tower-size slice for yourself. This extra cooling time lets the sauce harden just enough so that it doesn’t run all over the plate, but not so much that you get stodgy pizza.
Whipping up a deep dish pizza may seem intimidating if you’ve never done it before. Don’t let that stop you — if you do it right, your homemade deep dish pizza will rival any that Chicago has to offer.
Grab Chef Pomodoro’s Chicago deep dish metal pan and let’s dive in deep.