Anatomy of a Deep Dish Pizza

Cheese on the bottom! Sauce on the top!

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DEVELOPING STORY – 05-13-2010:

Pizza De Mayo 2011 is over, and the photos need to be sorted, cropped, and awesome-tastic-o-fied, so until I complete this post, please enjoy this  teaser photo of ‘Deep Dish MEATZA 2 (Electric Meataloo)’.

Deep Dish MEATZA 2 (Electric Meataloo)

A photo of a partially devoured Deep Dish 'Meatza' from PIZZA de MAYO 2011. Also pictured in the back, a sausage, pepperoni, mushroom and sweet pepper combo. Not pictured: a 14" Italian sausage patty / pepperoni combo, and the best 12" spinach /garlic with provolone and mozzarella. We were too busy eating them to take their picture.

You can also read about last year’s Pizza De Mayo post here.

UPDATED – 05-14-2011 :

I’d like to thank everyone who attended 2011 PIZZA de MAYO, and would like to especially thank Dov and Ann and anyone else who figured out how to use my camera to help take some of the photos that you will see below. So without further ado, I bring you:


If you’ve read about last year’s Pizza de Mayo , you may know that I’ve already made a deep dish ‘meatza’. The original intent was to see if I could make a deep dish pizza with a meat crust instead of the traditional dough crust. I had always intended to try making it more than once, so the first attempt was always considered a learning experience. I did learn valuable things from the first attempt and was ready to try again.

This year, the plan was very much about grease control and stability. Last year when I built the Meatza, I used raw bacon for the bottom and filled in the gaps with ground beef, as well as using ground beef for the entire outer lip. This year, I eliminated the major contributor to last year’s grease-overload by pre-cooking the bacon (2 lbs of it). I cooked the strips until they were almost crispy, but still soft enough to bend, draining them on layers of paper towels. Last year, I didn’t have enough ground beef to cover the whole bottom. This year I made sure we had plenty of ground sirloin to cover the bacon. (I will probably be making a batch of chili later in the week; I bought too much beef this time). Instead of an entire patty of Italian sausage, I put a criss-cross lattice of sausage, and then placed pepperoni sparingly on the top in the spaces between.

In a slight variation from the theme, I took out extra insurance on the grease-factor this year by surrounding the bacon/beef crust with a traditional deep dish pizza dough crust. Why put all that amazing flavor to waste as drippings in the pan when you can soak it up in the crust ? This turned out to be the best thing because it tasted incredible, but also increased stability of the entire Meatza and made serving easier.

I hope some of you are able to make it out next year for Pizza de Mayo 2012, which will feature  a variety of deep dish pizzas, where you will very likely encounter DEEP DISH MEATZA 3 : Subtitle TBD.


Different from the previous attempt, I opt to use a standard deep dish crust for the base. This turns out to be a great move.

This is a 12″ round aluminized steel cake pan. I call this a medium deep dish pan.

After a liberal sprinkling of crushed garlic, the bacon lattice is applied.

Yeah. Bacon lattice. It’s a thing.

Some of my guests had commented that they'd never seen anyone weave bacon before.

See the bacon on the left? That’s TWO POUNDS (pre-cooked weight).
I cooked them all the night before and didn’t eat one slice! How’s that for discipline?
Yes, we used ALL OF IT in the Meatza!

A fully-baconed meatza, only PARTIALLY completed

The original reason to weave the bacon into a lattice was that it WAS the bottom of the Meatza.
(Also, it looked freakin’ cool!)
Only AFTER weaving this over a pizza dough crust did I realize I probably didn’t need to be so precise.
(Still looked cool, right?)

2 lbs of lean ground sirloin are pressed into a solid patty and worked up the sides. Then comes the cheese.

A full layer of ground beef would add to the stability of the Meatza.

A layer of sliced mozzarella going on top of the ground beef.

Hold on a second! Ground beef? Cheese? IT’S A CHEESEBURGER! No wait, there’s more…

A criss-cross of italian sausage was added, but the photographers took a break to eat pizza. Crushed tomatoes are added to cover the pie. Then, a sprinkling of parmesan/romano and IN TO THE OVEN!

No, I don’t know why we didn’t move the can-opener before taking the the last 2 shots either. 🙂


Wow! Look at how there’s a bit of caramelized cheese on the outer crust, and that bit of char on the pepperoni!
If you look close enough, you can see the criss-crossed italian sausage.

At this moment, I am so happy I pre-cooked the bacon. It came out perfect!


Who wants the first heart-atta....err, I mean who wants the first slice?

Look at the strings of cheese hanging from that first slice!
Dang! Blogging is sure making me hungry! BRB. Gonna nuke a slice!

Meatza - closeup (reheated). This slice was eaten minutes after shooting and uploading this photo.

So, how should we configure Meatza 3?
Bacon on top? Bacon below the dough? Beef on the outside? Additional tasty (possibly endangered) animals? Some other artistically formed meat pattern?
(insert superhero tv show music & roll credits).


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New Year’s Eve, 2010:
I am making a deep dish pizza when halfway through the baking, smoke starts coming out of the oven and the smoke alarm goes off. This is not an uncommon occurrence when I bake things in my oven because I don’t have external exhaust for my gas range and placement of the smoke alarm in my condo is not far enough away from the kitchen to avoid a ‘false alarm’. Except this time, the smoke is starting to burn my eyes, so I turn off the oven (a pizza is still baking in there), open all the windows (thank goodness the weather was unseasonably warm) and put a window fan on full blast at the nearest window to the oven, blowing outward (and every other fan I have working to move the air in that direction).  The residual heat from the oven finishes the pizza nicely, which I partake of a slice, and then wrap the rest up for later reheating in my toaster oven (now my only oven). While wearing a wet cloth over my face to filter the grease-filled air, I steal some sips of beer under the cloth and I wait for my home to ventilate while flipping back and forth between the Doctor Who marathon and the sub-par local and national New Year’s coverage, waiting for the count down to 2011 with Seacrest and Dick Clark’s head.

Days later, after having purchased a number of cleaning supplies and room deodorizers, my condo is almost back to normal, but the damage has been done. I assess the damage. Gas burners still work, but the oven is dead,
and my tax refund is months away.  Out of necessity, I teach myself how to make deep dish in a toaster oven. It dulls the pain. Then, finally in March (after early filing), my tax refund comes in. I schedule my installation, and on April 2nd, I have a new oven.

New Hotness : 5 burners plus SpeedBake

So what happened?
Days before baking, I had been experimenting with deep frying things (like bacon, chicken, and french fries) in an enameled cast iron pot on my stovetop. I discovered the hard way, just how inaccurate my deep fry thermometers are (digital thermometers have been added to my amazon wish list). I also learned that it’s very easy to overflow a deep fryer when you put too much into the fryer at once, add wet or starchy items to really hot oil, or use too much oil in the first place.

When the manufacturers say that your gas range has ‘sealed burners’, this is not 100% accurate.
The truth is there is still a little hole in the middle of each burner, and any amount of oil that overflows into the surrounding burner well, will most certainly leak down into that hole, and into the surprisingly unprotected insulation pad that surrounds your oven. The insulation pad keeps the majority of the heat inside your oven so it is more efficient and heats up your food instead of your home. That insulation pad, I learned, is a $70 part, that would cost about $300+ in labor to replace, if repair shops even wanted to do that repair for you, which they don’t.
The main problem is that you have to take the entire oven apart to get the pad off, and even if you were able to clean and replace the insulation pad, your oven would never be the same. Bottom line – If you’re going to spend upwards of $400 to repair an oven, you might as well buy a new one.

Word of advice:
Be extra careful when deep frying on your stovetop. Test your thermometers for accuracy with a pot of boiling water. Your thermometer should more or less read 212F. If it doesn’t, you may need to get a new one.

If you see the oil heading for a boil-over, KILL THE HEAT IMMEDIATELY or you can potentially have a grease fire on your hands when the oil overflows onto a live flame.

If you can get one of those electric counter top deep-fryers with the built-in thermometer and heating controls, you are probably going to be a lot safer in the long run.

You can get more tips on safe deep frying here:

Here’s some photos of the very first deep dish pizza from my new oven!

and some bonus photos of my 2nd Chicago Style THIN CRUST pizza trials, which I baked last night –
now with SQUARE CUTS!

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