Chicago Deep Dish – Elements of a Great Pizza

January 17, 2018 (Last Updated: March 9, 2019) - As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

We are making progress in our Chicago deep dish series and have really learned quite a bit about the history and heritage of this classic pizza. This great pizza style really changed the game for many pizza lovers and it really has been fun to look into this topic. Also, eating a poop-ton of pizza is pretty awesome, as well. Today, we are going to look closer at the individual ingredients of this great pizza so that we can make better decisions about our final recipe.

I think it is important to talk about calories. This is not a dainty pizza, so when I talk about the best ingredients for this pizza, I am not talking about low cal stuff. We are going to be eating pretty fatty. I am a pretty health conscious dude and there is a time and place for eating healthily. A proper Chicago style deep dish pizza is not one of them.

First Things First, The Order Of the Ingredients

Ok, one of the first things that makes a Chicago deep dish stand out from other pizza styles is the order of ingredients. The crust is on bottom. Instead of sauce next, the cheese is placed right on the crust. Because of the long cook time, if the mozzarella were on top, it would burn. Then ingredients like sausage, pepperoni, peppers. Finally, the sauce is added to the top. Perhaps some parmesan is sprinkled on top.

The Dough of a Great Chicago Deep Dish

While this is not a dainty pizza, I think there is a misconception that the dough of a Chicago deep dish is very bready and enormous. It is not. The crust on the bottom and really sides should actually be pretty thin. While thicker than a NY pizza, the thickness comes from the ingredients.

Because this really is a thinner crust and does not need as much structure as a well-risen bread, it does not need to be kneaded too much. Over kneading this pizza dough is a no-no.

Now, there are some big ingredients in a good Chicago deep dish, so it does need some strength. There is usually oil (and sometimes butter) added to the pan and this fries the crust a bit. This provides some strength to the crust, as well as a great golden brown crunch.

The Cheese of this Great Pizza

Whole milk, low moisture, sliced mozzarella from the deli case or sliced yourself. If you are wondering what low moisture mozzarella is, it is the normal mozzarella that you would find in the cheese aisle of a typical American grocery store. The mozzarella balls that are made fresh or come from the specialty aisle in a bag of water have more moisture.

Chicago Style Deep Dish Tomato Sauce

Unlike many other styles, this is not a highly processed sauce. This is crushed tomatoes with spices and garlic. The sauce is not cooked prior to adding to the pizza. Because of the long cook time, it will cook in the pizza pan just fine.

Other Toppings

This is all up to you, but Italian sausage is a great start. While pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping in the US, things are different in Chicago, where sausage rules. I gotta say, I agree with Chicago in that regards.

Top It Off With Some Parm

It is not uncommon to see parmesan cheese placed on top of the tomatoes before it is put in the oven. I love cheese, so I will be doing this.

Overall, the Chicago deep dish is not that different than many other pizzas, but definitely has its own nuances and differences that make it obviously unique. This pizza pie has some weight and calories to it, and that is ok sometimes, right. God bless Chicago and God bless the Chicago deep dish pizza!

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