Pizza is a staple in many households–especially those with kids. It’s an expectation at sleepovers, a lifesaver during study sessions, and a godsend for quick family dinners. Of course the same dish can get old quickly–what about shaking things up with Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza?
Chicago Style Pizza has a lot of similarities with regular pizza, but the ingredients are arranged differently–enough to almost feel like a different dish. The crust is thick and bready (I use whole wheat), there is a dense layer of cheese in the middle and the top is decked with chopped seasoned tomatoes. Additional toppings, if you decide to use them, sit between the cheese and the sauce.
Beyond revitalizing a dinner mainstay, I had a secondary motive in learning to make this. Last fall I bought a Le Creuset braiser and I needed to make sure I had plenty of ideas on how to use it. Although I got it at the Outlet Mall, it was still an indulgence and, at just under 12 inches, the 3 1/2 qt pan was perfect! Other people will use a deep dish pizza pan, or a cast iron frying pan and I think that even pie pans (probably two) would work.
If you are a pro at pizza crust (which someday I want to be) or have a good source (e.g. Trader Joe’s at $1.19/dough ball), the pizza comes together very easily. You pat in the crust (no tossing or rolling–hooray!), lay on sliced cheese, then top with seasoned diced tomatoes. The hardest part is simmering the tomatoes with some herbs (for under a half hour). I think I can manage that even on a busy night with a house full of teenagers!
Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza
Sauce based on Emeril Lagasse
- Pizza Dough–premade or your favorite recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
- 2 teaspoons basil
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced plum tomatoes, partly drained (or regular coarsely crushed)
- 1 tablespoon dry red wine
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3/4 pound provolone or mozzarella cheese, sliced
- 1/4 lb Italian sausage or any other toppings you like (optional)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1. 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 stir for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, wine and sugar, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray the sides of a 12 inch pan with Pam (believe me this works a lot better than the traditional olive oil). Press pizza dough into the pan, pushing about 1 1/2 inches up the sides.
3. Layer the provolone cheese on top of the dough. Top with toppings of your choice, if using.
4. Ladle the sauce evenly on top and sprinkle with grated Parmesan.
5. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool for a few minutes, then slice and serve hot. (If you use an enameled pan, remember not to use metal cutting tools in the pan–I find the pizza usually slips out intact with a little loosening if I have used Pam)