Being born and raised in St. Louis, I never really got on board with deep dish pizza. Actually, for a long time I was kind of anti-deep dish pizza, just like I’m anti-Cubs (sorry, Chicagoans). Why? Well, because, I grew up eating the opposite of deep dish pizza - shoutout to Imo’s, the literal square beyond compare, and the most delicious thing on the planet - and the fact that the sauce is on the top always weirded me out. Also, Cardinals baseball for life.
Even when a popular deep dish pizza joint cropped up in St. Louis, I still couldn’t do it; I’d always opt for the thin crust - it’s in my blood! In fact, the only times I've caved and eaten deep dish pizza, it’s been in Chicago. And ok, yes, it is delicious - it’s pizza for crying out loud. But the sauce to toppings to dough ratio has always been off for me. Until now.
I begrudgingly tackled this deep dish pizza recipe - and it was way easier than I thought! What a pleasant surprise it was. The best part is how versatile it is. Add your own toppings, all the cheese you want and as much or as little sauce as you desire. Am I a deep dish pizza convert now? TBD, but things are looking up.
Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza
Makes 1 pizza
Prep time: 4 hours (including rise time)
Cook time: 25 minutes
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 15-oz can whole tomatoes
1 small onion, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper to taste
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1. Prepare deep dish pizza dough by combining flour, cornmeal, salt and yeast in a large bowl, tossing with a wooden spoon to incorporate all the dry ingredients. Add the warm water and 2 tablespoons of melted butter; stir until everything is moistened. Once the dough starts to come together, dump it onto a floured surface and knead until dough takes on an elastic texture.
2. Form dough into a ball and place in an oiled mixing bowl, coating all sides in oil. Cover the bowl and place and leave to rise in a warm area until it nearly doubles in size, or up to 2 hours.
3. Meanwhile, prepare your sauce. Mix together whole tomatoes, onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Using clean hands or the back of a wooden spoon, roughly crush the tomatoes until they reach the sauce reached a chunky consistency. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
4. When the dough has doubled in size, gently remove any air bubbles by punching down the dough. Reform the dough into a neat ball and place the bowl in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 more hours.
5. Preheat your oven to 400ºF. To assemble your deep dish pizza, remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out on a floured surface. You’ll want about a 12-inch circle, so the dough comes up the sides of whatever pan you’re using. Which, by the way, should be deep cake or spring-form pan. I used a 9x3 inch springform pan, but you could use something a bit shallower if that’s what you have on hand. Carefully transfer the dough to the pan, using your fingers to press the dough down into the bottom and up the sides for a nice tight fit. Drizzle the dough with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle on all of your cheese and other desired additions, and top with tomato sauce. Bake at 400ºF until the crust begins to brown, between 25-30 minutes. If you notice too much browning on the top before it cooks all the way through, loosely tent the pizza with aluminum foil. Let pizzas cool slightly before serving.
Recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction.