Introduction: CHICAGO - Deep Dish Pizza

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Chicago deep dish pizza is one of those memory foods for me. Ironically, I only had it once when I was 9, but 30 something-ish years later, I can still taste it. I still remember getting off a train in Chicago at 1 in the morning via Toronto with my Mom and sister. It was in late January, cold and miserable and our train was delayed because of the snow. We were slated to be putting on a display at an antique expo the next morning, which due to the storm never happened. I grew up travelling on the weekends across Canada doing antique shows as that was my Mothers side hustle from working for the Canadian National railway. It was rare we went to the US, but from time to time, we found our way there. We only hit up Chicago the one time, but that was all it took. The bellhop lets us know of a hotel that had a restaurant and we boarded our taxi. By the time we arrived, we were beat, but so hungry. The restaurant itself was closed for in dinning, but we were told we could eat in the bar downstairs. Walking down those long snow covered steps was like walking into a movie. You could hear the live band as the jazz music came up the stairs. The bar was actually a blues club, patrons were dressed in their finest while the band played on through a blue haze of cigarette smoke hanging 3 feet in the air; it was the eighties, what can I say. We were presented with a small bar menu but was told the cook was pulling out a couple fresh Deep dish pizzas for the band and had an extra. Our family had a thing for pizza, so we happily agreed. We were in for a surprise when it arrived as it didn't look like any pizza we'd seen before. It was so thick and where was the cheese? The waiter just laughed and scooped us out a slice. Long ropey lengths of cheese were swiftly dealt with and a slice of steaming goodness was deposited in front of me. I instinctively tried to pick it up, but the waiter just smiled a long lazy grin, his gold tooth flashing, passed me a fork and knife, and said; "You're not from around here, aint'cha? Welcome to the windy city".

Well, that was a long walk to talk about a pizza. But I digress, the reason I wanted to relive this pizza was to share it with my daughter. Sadly, no smokey blues club. This version is the base style of Chicago deep dish pizza. Flaky crust, silly amounts of cheese and raw sausage topped with a rich tomato sauce bakes into divine ooey-gooeyness. At the club ours also had mushrooms and green pepper, but as my daughter isn't a fan of either cooked, I went basic. Feel free to add your own, just keep it true-blue, the cheese goes on the bottom...

Step 1: Ingredients


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (yes, you can skip this, but at the cost of some flakiness)
  • 1/3 cup softened butter


  • 1 large onion
  • 1 whole bulb of garlic
  • 1 large can fire roasted tomatoes (I used Muir Glen brand)
  • Dried oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, and 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of salted butter
  • 1 bunch minced parsley (Italian flat leaf if you can get it)


  • 4 spicy Italian sausage links
  • Fruiliano cheese - sliced - about 300 grams
  • Shredded mozzarella - about 500 grams
  • Freshly ground Parmesan - about 1/4 cup
    • Not used but makes a great addition
      • slice mushrooms
      • green peppers
      • raw bacon (you dice it and lay it on top of the pizza where it cooks in the oven)


  • Cornmeal
  • Extra virgin olive oil - you'll use it with abandon...

Step 2: Shopping Local - 6S Family Farm

Living in a semi rural location, you'd think shopping local would be easy, but sadly it's not. Sure you can hit up a farmers market in the summer, but aside from that your stuck with the local fare from a grocery store. The local grocery store tries to use local, but with government red tape so many food items are regulated. I thought when moving to the Pacific North Coast I could go to any food store and expect to see mountains of fresh seafood as when I lived in Vancouver, places like Prince Rupert on BC's coast is where the majority of seafood came from. Ironically, all the seafood is shrink wrapped and stamped with government fisheries stickers saying processed in Vancouver...Dang.

but occasionally, we get lucky. 6S Family farm is as it sounds, the whole family raises a variety of meats from lamb, cow, pork, chicken, turkeys and rabbits. It is all natural, no hormones or anything nasty. The meats from them are mind blowing. After years of supermarket meat, the taste is unbelievable. So that's what real meat is supposed to taste like...

This spring we bought a 1/4 pig, turkey, a variety of sausage and some mind blowing baked goods. I hadn't tried the spicy Italian sausage yet, and the deep dish pizza sounded like the perfect way to try it out. Upon opening the package you can smell the fennel and wine, they are masters at this. Being a chef for years I have tried numerous recipes, this one was perfect. The seasonings used and the way they coarse grind the meat is like something I've never had before.

If you live in the Houston BC area, give them a try. They even deliver, which in this Covid time were living in was a god send. The next time you hear of a local family farm serving quality like this, give them a try.

Now I just have to find a travelling fish monger...

Step 3: Dough

So a little disclaimer, most of my photos for this step were corrupted as I foolishly used my sons iPad as a camera source. When I thought i was taking a shot, i was instead taking a blurry video bit. So I stole similar shots from my last Instructable where I made a potato pizza. Its not the same dough, but the premise is similar.

  1. Add the flour, sugar, salt, yeast and cream of tartar into a large bowl and mix about
    1. The cream of tartar will assist the butter in giving a flaky texture, which is in addition to the rise from the yeast.
  2. Add your olive oil and (COLD) water, mix until a shaggy dough is formed.
  3. Knead until smooth by hand for several minutes, or allow to sit covered over night. Then chill in the fridge for an hour.
  4. The next step is similar to making croissant dough. Roll out your dough on a (VERY) lightly floured surface to about an inch in thickness
    1. Spread all the butter to about an inch of the edge of the dough.
    2. Fold the dough over on itself
    3. Roll out again and fold over again. For a croissant dough you would repeat this 4 more times and involves chilling the dough between folds. I find this isn't necessary for this dough, roll and fold one more time for a total of 3 folds.
    4. Slather your large bowl with olive oil and place your dough in the bowl. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in bulk. This can take up to 6 hours due to the butter. If you allowed it to sit overnight in bullet 3, your rise will only take about an hour or two.

Step 4: Sauce

The sauce is very simple, but starts with quality ingredients.

  1. Dice an onion
  2. Mince a whole head of garlic. When you know your going to use a whole head of garlic, slice off a thin layer from the bottom of the garlic. This make it easier to take off the skins. Lightly chop the bulbs into small slices and then sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt. The salt will absorb yummy garlic oils that are often lost to the cutting board. It also makes it easier to mince.
  3. Saute your onions in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat with a teaspoon of dried thyme, one teaspoon of salt and two teaspoons of dried oregano.
  4. When the onions are translucent add your garlic and saute until fragrant (30 seconds). At this point add two tablespoons of butter and lower the heat.
  5. Add your large can of crushed fire roasted tomatoes along with a teaspoon of fresh pepper and a couple bay leaves.
    1. I would love to say I used my own fire roasted tomatoes, but as my tomato plants are only about 3 inches tall, I seem to be tomato challenged. If you are blessed with a bunch of very firm tomatoes, fire roast them yourself. Google will tell you all about it. Here on Instructables they have several.
    2. I used Muir Glen brand fire roasted tomatoes as the quality is insane and it's all organic. You will not be disappointed.
  6. Raise the heat and drive off the excess moisture. You will now be in a battle with your stove top. You need a higher heat which results in tomato splatter going everywhere, put a lid on it and you wont be able to drive off the moisture. So... stir like crazy, or deal with the mess and clean later, or cook it over lower heat for an hour. I went with a medium heat and cleaned up after. After about 20 minutes, the sauce will thicken up nicely.

Step 5: Assemble

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Celsius.
  2. Oil your pan with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal. The cornmeal oil combo will act like Teflon allowing the cook product to slip right out. Also it adds a nice crispy texture.
  3. Roll out enough dough (about 2/3 of the dough) to a disk about 13 inches across for a 9 inch cake pan. If you have a large spring form pan this will work great, just roll out your dough so it provides at least a 2 inch rise on the sides. Flop in the dough. Understand, until your other ingredients are added it will fight to slither back into the pan like a persistent toddler.
  4. layer the bottom with sliced Fruiliano cheese (mozzarella if you can't get any Fruiliano)
  5. Followed by about 1 inch of grated mozzarella (don't compress it)
  6. Now squeeze out quarter size chunks of raw sausage meat from their casings and drop onto the shredded mozzarella leaving tiny gaps between the meat.
  7. Scoop about 1 & 1/2 cups of thickened sauce onto the sausage. Spread like icing. Depending on how much dough you have left over on the sides, fold it over until it rests on the sauce.

Step 6: Bake

  1. Sprinkle the tomato sauce top with a light layer of freshly ground Parmesan.
  2. Drizzle a little olive oil on the exposed crust rim
  3. Place on a tinfoil covered cookie sheet (it could drip)
  4. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven (450 degrees Celsius). Yes, the sausage will cook through.

Step 7: Oooh La La, Time to Eat

When you take it out, the crust will be deeply golden brown. if you smack the crust with a fork, it will sound crispy and feel hard and a little hollow.

Allow to set up for at least 3 minutes, 5 is better. Just like a lasagna, you want it to firm up a little, but just a little. This is fork and knife pizza, but if you are daring where a bib and pick up a slice. You've been warned.

Now you can serve it from the pan, but thanks to that cornmeal you should be able to coax it out of the pan in one piece where it will be a thing of beauty.

Best eaten fresh when the cheese if long and ropey, but still tastes great the next day.

Pizza Speed Challenge 2020

Participated in the
Pizza Speed Challenge 2020