That Chicago Deep-Dish Pie

The wife has tasked me with another Chicago-style pizza project to help get her through our Kentucky exile. This time it’s a pan-style crust. Deep dish, but not a corn meal-based crust like before. This style is thicker, breadier, and heartier than an Uno or Gino’s East crust. Yet it’s not actually bread, something that even the best bakers from outside Chicago can’t seem to grasp. Even the best out-of-town recipes, say, from the likes of Cook’s Illustrated (pictured above) usually fall well short of the mark for the simple reason they they’re thinking bread and not crust. Bread is soft and spongy. Crust is dense and crispy (even though it may be thick). Oh heck they can’t help it, they’re New Englanders. But we do need to go back to the drawing board and re-tool their recipe to get to something a true Chicagoan would be proud to eat. I’ll put up the recipe I’ll be working on later this week under the State of the Pizza link to the right.

If you’d like to follow me, make sure you’ve got a Chicago-style deep dish pizza pan at the ready, for no mere tart pan will hold a crust this righteous. To contain this much pizza magnificence you’ll need a pan with sides at least a full inch in height. You don’t want anything too terribly wide mind you (those giant 14-inch pans are for the birds…deep dish pies never cook all the way through in them without burning on the edges). Shoot for something in the 12-inch range if you can find it, ideally with a bottom liner that will keep the pie from sticking. I didn’t own a deep dish pizza pan until very recently, when I found a stack of used ones on sale at a local restaurant supply store. The place had just bought a treasure trove of perfectly seasoned pans from a Pizza Hut that had gone out of business. I snapped up three 12-inchers with liners for $3.49 each, plus a stack of the little “personal pan” jobs for a buck apiece. An amazing deal when you consider it’d take me years of pizza baking to build up a seasoning layer like that. Gold baby, gold!

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