At some point in their long, probably freezing visit, new visitors to the windy city are bound to come across one of the many pizza establishments dotted around the city.
However, instead of being able to order a standard slice like they are used to, they get given a steaming mound of pizza that is built like a pie and comes in a massive cast iron pan.
What on earth is this monstrosity that Chicagoans call Chicago-style, deep-dish pizza?
What is Chicago Style Pizza
Chicago style pizza is one of those strange food items in the USA that isn’t really what it says it is.
While it is known as a pizza, it isn’t a pizza at all – it is more of a pizza-themed casserole made from 95% cheese.
There are a few key differences between a regular pizza and a slice of Chicago style pizza:
#1 – The Crust
Instead of a rich, yet incredibly simple pizza dough that all your favorite Italian and New York pizzas are made from, Chicago style pizza is made from a dough that is closer to a shortcrust pastry than it is a real dough.
It is incredibly thick, reaching up to the very top of the dish that it is baked in, and needs to be extra cakey and thick so as to be able to contain the absolute mountain of fillings inside it.
#2 – The Fillings
The fillings are easily the part of the Chicago style pizza that is the closest to regular pizza. All the major ingredients that you would expect are right there – plenty of tomato sauce, cheese, and the occasional shingled meat like pepperoni.
However, there is a substantial difference between regular pizzas and Chicago style pizza when it comes to the filling portions.
Instead of a small smear of sauce and a decent covering of mozzarella cheese, there is what can only be described as a monumental quantity of both sauce and cheese on every slice. There is easily a giant cup of sauce in every slice, as well as a huge mound of extremely stringy cheese.
This is what turns it from a normal pizza into almost a casserole, as there is just so much of everything.
#3 – Where Those Fillings Go
Another key difference between Chicago style pizza and regular pizza is the order those fillings go into the pizza.
Instead of the classic combination that you would expect of pizza crust, sauce, cheese, and toppings, the latter two fillings are completely reversed. For reasons unknown to the rest of mankind, Chicago style pizza has you put the cheese first onto the crust, followed by the heaping mound of sauce.
From there, you build the rest of the pizza by adding a variety of toppings, but the fact remains that it is utterly strange to put the cheese before the sauce.
So, if this doesn’t frighten you away and instead (for some reason) inspires your curiosity, how do you actually make Chicago style pizza?
How is Chicago Style Pizza Made?
To make your very own Chicago style pizza, you need three things:
A massive pizza crust, a huge pile of cheese, and way more pizza sauce than you would expect.
To make the dough, simply take your favorite pizza dough recipe and add in as much butter as you would normally add your olive oil. This means you also need to add a little bit more flour as well.
For the fillings itself, make a giant double batch of whatever your favorite pizza sauce recipe is – you are going to need to use all of it.
For the rest of the toppings, one of the most classic variations is to use about 1lbs of spicy Italian sauce, fried off in some olive oil until beautifully browned and delicious.
The only other thing you need to keep in mind is to make sure to use low moisture mozzarella, as this means that your dough gets too soggy.
Once it is all made, you only need to put a drizzle of olive oil and parmesan cheese along the top.
Cook it for about half an hour in a giant, cast-iron skillet at about 425f and cut it carefully, and you can enjoy your very own Chicago style pizza!