Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza
My husband spent a good portion of his childhood living in Chicago. Long enough to learn that there are two kinds of deep dish pizza lovers- Gino’s East people, and Giordano’s people. And apparently Giordano’s people are wrong.
I’ve tried both, and I concur. It’s all about that crust, baby- that buttery, flaky, cornmeal-laced crunchfest of a crust. The only crust brave and mighty enough to wrangle the unconscionable amount of cheese, sauce, and toppings therein. Sadly Gino’s East pizza was a very rare occurrence for us, as the nearest and only Wisconsin-side establishment was an unfortunate three hours by car for the bulk of our relationship. Now, we’re an impossible 2,000 miles from that pizza. And I’m cool with this. Because I can make it at home.
Nearly five years ago, I came across Seeded at the Table’s adaptation of a Cook’s Illustrated recipe for a Gino’s-style deep dish pizza, featuring a cornmeal crust. Without exaggeration, I declare that I have prepared this pizza at least 50 times since, but probably closer to a hundred. No lie! I have an archive of meal planning journals to back this up. I don’t even use the recipe anymore- every time I’ve made it, I’ve tweaked it. My dough-laminating game is strong. My version, as it stands today, is here- and it has become a beautiful, freakish mutant, and perfect. I no longer make the pizza, the pizza makes ME. I am emphatic about this pizza, you guys.
Before we get to the recipe, let’s chat about effort vs. payoff. This is not a quick pizza. Nor is it easy, or simple. You have to make dough, and then laminate it, and then chill it, and then make a sauce from scratch, and then shred a POUND of cheese (because whole milk mozzarella does not come shredded, and we do not cut corners here). And once you finally have the pie out of the oven, you have to wait at least ten minutes to eat it, or it will run all over when you cut it. Here’s a close-up of those flaky layers.
Every bit of this experience, until the moment it hits your
face plate, is hard. But I’ve still made it probably every other week for half of a decade. You know it’s about to be worth it. So, dust off your spring-form pan, and put on your soft pants. This is happening.
A couple of notes before I post the recipe- this pizza feeds 4-6, depending on how awful you are. Ben and I will gorge ourselves on half the pie for two nights in a row, but a normal human like you would probably be fine with a smaller portion, and maybe a side salad. It reheats beautifully. For toppings, I routinely use mushrooms and spinach, but use what you like.
- 1 1/2 c. + 2 T. flour
- 1/4 c. yellow cornmeal
- 1 t. salt
- 1 t. sugar
- 1 pkg.(2 1/2 t.) quick-rise yeast
- 1/2 cup + 2 T. warm water
- 2 T. olive oil
- 2 T. butter, softened
- 1 T. olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/8 t. red pepper flakes
- 1/2 c. diced yellow onion
- 2 c. canned crushed tomatoes
- 1 t. sugar
- 1-2 t. salt
- 1 lb. whole milk mozzarella, shredded
- 8 oz. mushrooms, very thinly sliced
- 4 c. spinach, roughly chopped (about 1/2 of a 5 oz. bag)
- Combine flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and yeast in bowl of stand mixer. Put on your dough hook and start the mixer at medium speed. Slowly pour in water, and then add olive oil. Allow to knead until incorporated. Add more warm water if needed.
- Place dough in an oiled mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Allow to rise for 20 minutes. Dough will not double in size, but if you press your finger into the top of the dough, the indentation will not spring back when the dough is ready.
- Sprinkle flour on your work surface. Roll dough out into a rectangle approximately 10x15". Spread softened butter over the dough evenly, leaving a 1/2" border un-buttered.
- Carefully fold the dough into the center lengthwise, like a letter. Gently press out air bubbles. Now fold the two ends in so they meet in the center, and then fold over like you're closing a book.
- Wrap dough in plastic and chill in freezer for 30-40 minutes while you prepare the sauce.
- Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and onion. Cook until translucent, stirring frequently.
- Dump in crushed tomatoes and season with sugar and salt. Taste, and adjust as needed. The sugar will cut the bitterness of the tomatoes, and the salt will temper the sweetness. You want to aim for a balance of tart, sweet, and salty.
- Reduce heat and simmer until ready to use.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9" spring-form pan with cooking spray. Once dough has chilled, roll out to a 13" circle. Transfer to your spring-form pan. Gently press dough into corners, and all the way up the sides.
- The cheese and toppings go down first, in layers. Sprinkle a handful of cheese onto the bottom of the crust. Then add half of mushrooms and half of spinach. Repeat. Top with a final handful of cheese. Press the toppings down if you have reached the top of the crust. Spread your sauce evenly on top.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until edges of crust are golden and beautiful.
- Allow to cool in pan for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving. Eat with a knife and fork!