Deep dish pizza is a Chicago staple. Why? Chicagoans like their food hearty. Chicago style deep dish pizza has more toppings, more flavor per bite, and is the best way to enjoy pizza. With this recipe, it’s easy to make your own Chicago style deep dish pizza at home. Making homemade pizza is a fun family activity, and allows you to hand pick your toppings, cheese variety, and create a satisfying meal. While this recipe is for pizza with mushrooms and sausage, feel free to substitute your favorite topping on your homemade pizza. This recipe makes two 12-inch pizzas.
The Secret Crust Recipe
Deep dish pizza needs a substantial crust to support it. This is a flavorful beer-batter crust, homemade from scratch. Warm one cup of flat beer to 110˚ F. In a heavy earthenware bowl, mix in 1 tsp sugar and ¾ tsp salt, using a wooden spoon. Sprinkle with 1 tsp active dry yeast using a wooden spoon. Beat in one cup of whole wheat or white bread flour and allow to stand for 10 minutes until bubbly. Beat in 1 TBSP olive oil, ½ tsp oregano and ½ tsp basil, then work in 1 to 1 ½ cups white bread flour until a soft dough is formed. Turn out onto a floured board and knead for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball, lightly oil the surface and return it to the earthenware bowl. Cover lightly with a damp cloth and allow to sit in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch down the pizza dough and let rest for 10 minutes before shaping.
The Sauce and Cheese
To create a savory homemade deep dish pizza sauce, mix one 8 ounce can of unseasoned tomato sauce with a few twists of black pepper, a pinch of thyme, ½ tsp oregano, ½ tsp basil, and 1 tsp fennel seed. To spice it up, add an optional ½ to 1 ½ tsp of red pepper flakes.
A proper Chicago style deep dish pizza has plenty of cheese. The main pizza cheese is mozzarella, and freshly shredded mozzarella has a much better consistency than pregrated cheese. Place a 1 lb block of mozzarella in the freezer for 1-2 hours until firm but not frozen, then use the shredding blade of a food processor to create freshly shredded cheese.
For added flavor, ¼ cup finely grated parmesan or romano cheese can be used as a finishing touch.
Sausage and Mushroom Pizza Topping
Chicago style pizza must have meat on it, and deep dish pizza calls for lots of meat in the recipe. Cook 1 pound of Italian sausage until done, then remove from skillet and drain most of the drippings. Cool the sausage and slice into 1/3 inch slices. Clean and slice 8 oz of white button mushrooms, then cook for a few minutes in the sausage drippings, allowing the mushrooms to soften slightly and pick up some of the sausage flavor. These toppings can be prepared in advance and refrigerated until it’s time to assemble your homemade pizza.
Chicago style deep dish pizza is best cooked in a heavy dish – cast iron works well. Lightly grease two 12-inch cast iron skillets and divide the dough between them. Stretch the dough to cover the bottom and form a lip at least ½ inch up the side. Allowing a few minutes for the dough to rest in between each round of stretching makes it easier.
Spread the prepared tomato sauce evenly over the dough. Sprinkle the mushrooms and sausage over the tomato sauce. Cover with a blanket of freshly shredded mozzarella. Finally sprinkle with ¼ cup finely grated romano. Your homemade Chicago style deep dish is ready to bake!
I’ve visited the back of several famous Chicago pizzerias known for their deep dish pizza, and they all had very hot ovens. Preheat the oven to 425˚ F during pizza assembly. Bake the pizzas on the center rack of the oven for about 18-20 minutes until the crust is browned and the cheese is browned and bubbly. For easier slicing, allow the pizza to cool for a few minutes so the cheese can solidify. Wash your homemade Chicago-style deep dish pizza down with a Berghoff beer or a Dad’s root beer. Yum!
For a homemade deep dish meat-lover’s pizza, very old Chicago, omit the mushrooms. Cook a mixture of ½ lb sausage and ½ lb ground beef, and put on the pizza after the sauce but before the cheese. Put 2 oz pepperoni slices and 2 oz cubed ham on after the cheese. This is more like a deep-dish meat pie than a pizza!
For a delicious deep dish veggie pizza in honor of Chicago’s Green Market, spread the crust with ¼ cup pesto before spreading the sauce. After the sauce is spread, add mushrooms sautéed in olive oil, 1 cup cooked and well drained spinach, and ½ finely diced red onion. Cover with cheese and then sprinkle black olive slices on top before baking.