Making (and eating) Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza

I might have mentioned how much I love Chicago here before. I love the culture, the shopping, the sights, the views, and mostly the food. I think Chicago is the forgotten foodie city or something. Everyone always thinks of New York City or even Las Vegas, or maybe even Napa Valley, when they think of food destinations in the Lower 48, but they’re overlooking one important place: the home of Italian Beefs, Red Hot dogs, and most famously, deep dish pizza.
There’s one thing I love almost as much as I love eating my way through Chicago, and that’s making homemade pizza. Seriously, I’ll never go back to pre-made crust again (I can’t say I’ll never eat a frozen pizza again, cause they do serve a certain purpose of getting a hot meal in front of you fast… and I might have one in the freezer.) But homemade is SOOO much better.

For a long time, I had a fear of using yeast or making anything that had to rise. What if I messed it up? But I pizza dough was a good place to start learning the mysteries of leavening. It’s flat anyway, so if it doesn’t rise properly, it’s easy to conceal it a bit.

I have been making my homemade pizzas for a while as thin crust pizzas, and they are pretty good. But after I was in Chicago last summer, and I think I might have also saw something on the Food Network or Travel Channel about Chicago-style deep dish pizza, I knew I had to give these a try. My first attempt wasn’t bad, but it was a thin crust dough in a deep dish pan. Good, but not authentic.
There is a difference in the type of dough, actually. Chicago style has a bit of cornmeal in the mix, whereas thin crust (New York style, if you will) does not. But, as far as the dough goes, there’s not much else that’s different. I found a deep dish pizza dough recipe online. This one is pretty close to the one I actually use.
Making dough is exponentially easier with a stand mixer and a dough hook. It provides the “elbow grease” in kneading.
The hardest part about making homemade pizza is that you have to plan ahead a little bit and allow 1-2 hours for the dough to rise. I am terrible at waiting for dough to rise, and I tried my hardest to let it rise more than an hour, but I just couldn’t.
Chicago style deep dish pizza is put together kinda reverse from thin crust. You put the meat and cheese in the bottom first before the rest of the toppings. I had half a zucchini leftover from somethign else and some carmelized onions. I actually sauteed the zucchini in the grease left from browing the Italian sausage so they would soak up some of that flavor. Then I topped the pizza with pieces of fresh mozzarella. On manager’s special–Woot! Woot!
I added the sauce, which was a little bit of leftover arrabiata sauce I had in the freezer. Then I shredded some fresh parm over the top. You can’t have too much cheese.
The finished product–mmmmmm. So yummy. Now, if I only had a Goose Island 312 to wash it down with… Too bad they don’t sell those down here.

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