Welcome to Deep Dish 101 – Lesson Two: The Basics.
Deep dish pizza is also made like this, except for a few differences.
1) While most pizzas are baked directly on the stone floor or deck of a pizza oven, a deep dish pizza is baked in a pan. The original Chicago deep dish pizzas were made in round pans, very similar (possibly identical) to cake pans. (never start a sentence with…) Because Deep Dish was intended to be a more substantial version of pizza, it is made in a pan and constructed to have a high outer wall to contain the generous amount of ingredients put inside.
2) With a few exceptions (Jersey, I’m talking to you!), most modern pizzas are made with the dough on the bottom, then the sauce on top of that, and then cheese goes on the very top, along with any additional toppings.
Deep dish pizza is assembled in a very similar way to a New Jersey “Tomato Pie”.
Cheese goes down first, then toppings, and tomato sauce goes on top. For deep dish pizza, this is essential, because if you don’t put the sauce on top, the cheese and toppings will burn due to the longer baking time.
Anatomy of a Deep Dish Pizza:
You may have seen this chart before:
As the chart above shows (and translates into latin),
Real Deep Dish has SAUCE ON THE TOP and CHEESE ON THE BOTTOM.
Well, not the very bottom – that’s where the crust is!
Let’s talk about Deep Dish Crust:
First, let’s make a few distinctions.
All Chicago Style Deep Dish pizzas are pan pizzas, but not all pan pizzas are Chicago Style Deep Dish.
Also, not all Chicago pizzas are Chicago Style Deep Dish (we’ll get to that later).
WHATCHYOOTALKINBOUTWILLISTOWER?!?!? Well, Arnold, it’s like this:
If you make a pizza in a pan, it’s called a “pan pizza”. This is not rocket science.
Chicago Deep Dish is a style of pan pizza.
Sicilian style pizza is also made in a pan.
Pizza Hut Pan Pizza is also made in a pan.
All three are pan pizzas. Not all three are Chicago Deep Dish.
If you go to Pizza Hut and order a “pan pizza”, it is not a Chicago Deep Dish pizza.
Why? Well, to start off… THE CHEESE IS ON THE TOP!
This is the single easiest way to spot a non-authentic Chicago Style Deep Dish.
Is it good? That’s a matter of opinion. I think most pizzas are pretty good, but vary in quality, texture, and taste.
It’s very hard to screw up pizza, but very easy to make it wrong.
(The company that now owns the Uno’s pizza chain is proving that today (2010).)
* UPDATE 2-8-2023 – Pizzeria Uno has been making efforts to redeem itself by opening new locations of “Pizzeria Uno” (not the grill) using the original recipe.
With minor exceptions and variations in dough consistency, deep dish crust is not a thick crust. At least, it’s not supposed to be substantially thicker than a typical pizza. Many home cooks and restaurants have inadvertently helped to spread that bit of mis-information by making any number of mistakes.
Minor missteps that very likely will give you the wrong result for your deep dish crust:
OVER-KNEADING or USING BASIC PIZZA DOUGH:
You could be making or using the wrong kind of pizza dough to make deep dish. The amount of kneading required for a typical pizza dough is way too much kneading for deep dish. If you over-knead deep dish dough, you can end up with a much more bready or chewy result, which can also give you a thicker crust as a result. Large amounts of stretchy gluten may be great for bread or NY style pizza, but not so much for deep dish. For a single batch of dough, you should not be mixing/kneading for more than 2 minutes total, just long enough to work the dough into a ball.
USING TOO MUCH DOUGH and/or MAKING YOUR OUTER CRUST TOO THICK:
The method in which you create the outer lip for your deep dish crust can also create the unintended effect of a thick outer crust. That outer lip is there to contain the ingredients put in the middle, so it can be understandable that you might want to have a substantially thick outer ring of dough up against the wall of your pizza pan. Resist this urge. If you spread out your dough to about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick, it should be an even layer that comes out to the edge of the pan with just barely enough dough to pinch up a paper thin outer lip with your fingers – about 1 and 1/2 inches high – all around the inside of the outer wall of the pan. If you have so much dough left that you have a thick outer lip of dough, you are using too much dough (or you are making Gino’s East).
If you pressed your dough out correctly, it should look something like this.
Don’t worry about getting a perfectly even outer crust.
Just make sure it’s super thin, and try to keep the top edge of the dough
about a 1/2 inch below the top of the pizza pan so it doesn’t burn.
OK, now you’re all probably thinking, “That’s all well and good, but… HOW DO I MAKE THE DOUGH!?!?”
Well, I’m glad you asked, but that’s going to have to wait until the next lesson: