Great eats — Chicago-style pizza

Saying that I’m a fan of pizza is like saying that the Grand Canyon is a hole in the ground.  And I live near the Mecca of Pizza — Chicago.

Around here, everyone has a favorite type.  You got your Lou Malnati’s people, your Giordano’s people, your favorite-hole-in-the-wall place where the sign is so old that you can’t read it anymore.  Some transplants to the area favor thin crust, wood-fired pizza (so do my twins).  Chicago:  we got it all when it comes to the pie. (And if we had used that as a slogan, we might have won the rights to hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics.  You never know.)

My husband, a Chicago native, is a Gino’s East man — specifically, a deep-dish-Gino’s-East-with-sausage-and-cheese-hold-the-heart-attack-pizza kind of man.

In the past few years, we’ve made a game out of trying to recreate the foods we love to eat at restaurants for a few reasons:  1) eating out can be expensive; 2) I hated eating overly-salty food (and frankly, it didn’t like me either); and 3) one of our kids has a peanut allergy which necessitates our knowing not only what’s in the food but how it was prepared.  Believe me when I say that all three of those things can kill the fun of dining out.  Obviously we still go out (see, Ballroom of Food), but for the most part, we try to make meals at home.

Trying to recreate my husband’s favorite pizza?  Not so easy.

Thanks to Google, I found a pretty good Gino’s East pizza knock-off recipe.  I’ll warn you now that it takes serious preparation — a couple of days — but it’s the nearest thing to culinary heaven you’ll taste.  I waded through the different iterations (adding turmeric to the crust?  Wow, that’s wrong on many levels.), and eventually arrived at this recipe, cobbled together from a few of the comments:

Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizza (Faux-no’s East Version)

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast (about 2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1/3 cup corn oil
  • 1 Tbl sugar
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • approximately 3 1/2 cups bread flour + some to knead with
  • 3 Tbl corn meal

In a large mixing bowl, proof the yeast by adding water, yeast and bit of the sugar, allowing it to become cloudy and bubbly. (Other people skip this step, feel free to do so — I just don’t want to go through the rest of the recipe if I have dud yeast).  Mix in the rest of the sugar, oil, and cream of tartar.  Combine bread flour with corn meal and add to liquid mixture a little at a time until a dough forms.  On a floured board or countertop, knead dough until it is firm and elastic (one commenter recommended 10 minutes of kneading and I think that’s overkill.  I’m not sure I ever timed myself, but knead it well).  Then roll the kneaded dough into a ball and place in a separate mixing bowl greased with olive oil on the bottom and sides.  Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rest on the counter for a few hours.  (Some folks recommended leaving it on the counter overnight — but I’m afraid it would rise up and take over the kitchen).  Place covered bowl in refrigerator overnight.

The next day, take dough out of the refrigerator and allow it to warm up on your counter.  Prep the deep dish pan you want to use by greasing it with corn oil (Gino’s uses these steel pans, but we have a stone deep dish pan.  I think you might be able to use cake pans in a pinch — might need two of them, though).  Press dough into the pan and cover with a layer of mozzarella cheese slices.

Time to make the sauce (or you can always use ready-made sauce to save time).  If you can find it, get a 28 oz can of 6-in-1 tomatoes.  If you can’t find those, you can use a 28 oz can of plum tomatoes and mash them up into little bits.  Then add salt, basil, oregano and black pepper (all to taste, really).  Mix it up.

Add your other ingredients on top of the cheese — sausage, olives, green peppers, whatever floats your boat.  Then spread the tomato sauce on top of that layer (that’s how they do it in Chicago) and sprinkle a bit of parmesan cheese on top.  Bake at 400 degrees  for about 45 minutes.

Then fight your husband and children to get a piece.

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About thethingaboutjoan

Mom of three who knits a little, bakes a lot, crafts a bit and blogs about it all.
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16 Responses to Great eats — Chicago-style pizza

  1. Micha says:

    This looks good even though I’m a thin ‘n cripsy kinda girl…I’ve never had Chicago deep dish before and you have given me incentive to try it! (Someone put tumeric in their pizza crust? Really?)

    • Hey Micha, I hope you give it a whirl. One thing about Chicago deep-dish crust: it’s like a really dense, beer-y bread. Crazy delicious, but it’s good to be forewarned if you’re primarily a thin crust person. Enjoy and let me know how it goes!

      • Micha says:

        Does the bottom still get crispy though or doesn’t it get a chance to with all the toppings? I think I’ll like it if it has a crispy bottom at least!

      • You know, every time I’ve made this pizza, the bottom crust doesn’t get soggy. My guess would be that the cheese acts like a vapor barrier between the crust and sauce.

        I can’t handle the “limp” crust stuff either. Too icky. Chicago-style crust has to hold up the weight of all the toppings so it ends up being like a crusty bread bowl. It’s awesome.

        Oooh, now I really want to know what you think if you try it. I hope you like it as much as I do!

      • Micha says:

        As long as I remember to make the dough ahead of time! 🙂

      • Yeah — that’s the kicker, isn’t it? My husband says that you’ve really got to have a hankering for it to go through all this planning. Guess that’s a good thing since it’s definitely not diet food.

  2. The tomato sauce goes on top, eh? Hmm. Might have to give that a whirl. We’re normally a thin crust household but this looks good. 😀

    • Yep, sauce on top. When I first moved here, I thought they’d forgotten to put cheese on it, but “that’s the Chicago way” (imagine my saying it like Sean Connery in the “Untouchables.” It’d be an excellent movie to pair with this pizza).

      Bonus: The mozzarella cheese never gets burned. Hope you give it go. If you do, let me know what you think.

  3. alenaslife says:

    You are seriously ambitious Joan. We’ve been meaning to take our sons to Gino’s East for a real deep dish. (In fact we recently tried to get in, but that’s another story.) My 11 year-old loves the deep dish from Giordano’s. I never considered making one at home — maybe we’ll give it a shot. We make thin crust all the time with ingredients from the Italian market in town. This seems “doable.”

    • Not all that ambitious — mostly cheap! 😉 When I hunted down the recipe, we had all the ingredients already except for the 6-in-1 tomatoes. It’s easy, but it does require planning because it has to sit around and rise forever.

      I also like Giordano’s but I tend to choke on the crazy amounts of cheese on it. That’s some serious pizza.

      Hey — so what happened at Gino’s when you tried to get in? Was it just insanely busy?

      • alenaslife says:

        INSANE. We were downtown on another assignment and thought we’d just walk over there. Hah! We ended up walking from place ot place . Ilooking for something without an hour wait. Just another city adventure.
        We’re going to try on a weeknight this summer. (And I agree about the cheese — not my thing).

      • Oh, don’t you just hate that urban foraging for food game where you pinball around from place to place to find a wait time under an hour? Especially with kids. Wonder why it was so crowded — Spring Break, I guess?

        Hope you can get in sometime in the summer. It’s definitely an experience.

  4. That sounds like a fantastic idea. Thanks. I am not a deep-dish gal (nor am I Chicago native – I”m all Wisconsin), but my boyfriend loves it. I am also a vegetarian, while he is not. This sounds right up our alley though. Thanks!

    • Tricky stuff, when pizza preferences collide! How do you guys settle the “deep-dish vs. thin crust” conundrum?

      And you live around here — what’s your favorite pizza? I’m always intrigued by Chicagoans favs when it comes to pizza!

  5. Miss Erma says:

    Joan,
    OMG girl! The first post I read of yours is about my favorite pizza in the whole world! Gino’s East Pizza. I tried making something similar a long time ago but it just took toooo long for me. Now my son picks me one up when he’s playing at Potbelly in the burbs somewhere…but I might try it again now that I have a great recipe to follow. Thanks.

    From your school chum. DH

    • Hey D (or should I call you Miss Erma — love that handle!)!! Thanks for stopping by! I hope you give this recipe a go — although it still takes a couple of DAYS to rise, etc. Let me know if you try to make it or if you just pick up the phone and order one. 🙂

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