In Deep

 I’ve been to Chicago exactly once (if we exclude airport stopovers). But I, along with Tygh, my cousin, Jamie, and her hubby, Chris, managed to visit 3 deep-dish pizzerias (in addition to our regular dinner reservations) in under 48 hours, so I feel pretty legit.

Which is why I am compelled to share this killer, at-home-in-your-very-own-kitchen version I came across not too long ago.  If you have a cast iron skillet and an oven, you can make fabulous deep-dish pizza, from scratch, at home.  Really. 

I am sure you Chicago natives out there will probably push back, and that’s ok because you can walk down the street to get your fix.  But for the rest of us, surrounded by thin-crust-is-so-in-vogue pizza places, well, we need something we can cling to. 

So, dear friends, give it a go.  And see if you don’t feel as awesome as the Sears Tower afterwards…


Chicago-style Cast Iron Deep Dish Pizza

I always use a scale when making any kind of dough - it yields much more reliable results.  But the original recipe included volume, so I did too, though if I'm being honest I've only done it with weight!

Makes two 10” pizzas; requires a minimum of 10 hours counter time, so read through recipe and plan ahead.

For the dough

2 ½ Cups (400 grams) bread flour

2 tsp (10 grams) kosher salt

½ tsp (4 grams) instant yeast

1 cup plus 3 Tbslp (275 grams) water

2 tsp (8 grams) olive oil, plus more to coats pans

For the pizza:

1.5 cups of your favorite pizza sauce (I swear by tomato paste, a few sprinkles of dried or fresh oregano, and salt and pepper for that jammy "pizza" flavor).

12 oz grated full-fat mozzarella cheese (not fresh as it is too watery – use the aged hard block or grated supermarket kind instead)

Any other toppings you want

1. First, combine flour, salt, yeast, water, and oil in a large bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon until no dry flour remains. You may need to use your hands a bit. The bowl should be at least 4 to 6 times to volume of the dough to account for rising.

2.  Next, cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, making sure that edges are well-sealed, then let rest on the countertop for at least 8 hours and up to 24. Dough will rise dramatically and fill bowl. 

3. Sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with flour, then transfer it to a well-floured work surface. Divide dough into two pieces and form each into a ball by holding it with well-floured hands and tucking the dough underneath itself, rotating it until it forms a tight ball. See Note.

4. Pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil in the bottom of two 10-inch cast iron skillet (original recipe says you can also use two round cake pans). Place 1 ball of dough in each pan and turn to coat evenly with oil. Using your hand, press the dough around the pan, flattening it slightly and spreading oil around the entire bottom and edges of the pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough sit at room temperature for two hours. After the first hour, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 550°F.  If you have one place a pizza stone on the rack - it helps the crust brown nicely on the bottom.

5. After two hours, the dough should be mostly filling in the pan up to the edges. Use your fingertips to press it around until it fills in every corner, popping any large bubbles that appear. Lift up one edge of the dough to let any air bubbles underneath escape and repeat, moving around the dough until there are no air bubbles left underneath and the dough is evenly spread around the pan.

6. Top each round of dough with 1/2 of the sauce, spreading to the very edges. Sprinkle (heavily!)  with mozzarella cheese, letting the cheese go all the way to the edges, as well. Season with salt and pepper (and oregano!). Add any other toppings as desired. Drizzle with olive oil and scatter a few basil leaves over the top (if desired).

7. Transfer pan to oven (placing directly on pizza stone, if using) and bake until top is golden brown and bubbly and bottom is golden brown and crisp when you lift it with a thin spatula, 12 to 15 minutes. Immediately sprinkle with grated parmesan or pecorino Romano cheese. Using a thin spatula, loosen pizza and peek underneath. If bottom is not as crisp as desired, place pan over a burner and cook on medium heat, moving the pan around to cook evenly until it is crisp, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove the pizzas and transfer to a cutting board. Cut each one into six slices and serve immediately.

Taken right from Serious Eats from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Note:  I generally only cook one pizza at a time.  You can keep one of the balls of dough well-wrapped in a ziplock bag at step 3 and store in fridge for up to 3 days.  Continue with step 4 when ready to bake!

My favorite cast iron skillet is the classic Lodge.  They are inexpensive and wear well.  Wash gently with soap and water, drying immediately after washing (never let drip dry or they can rust).  I use mine for everything from eggs to cornbread and, now, pizza!