Almost everyone loves pizza, but there are many types and flavors to choose from. There are still some classic favorites which are always likely to please a crowd, such as the deep dish Chicago style pizza. Let’s take a closer look at what this offering is all about:
What is Chicago Style Pizza?
Some of us might prefer thin crusts on our pizza, but the Chicago style is very different from that. It’s a thick kind of pizza that’s layered with meat, veggies, sauce, and cheese.
The crust of a Chicago style pizza is a few inches tall and even gets a little fried effect from the oiled pan. We can differentiate between this style of pizza and the classic New York or Neapolitan style by the depth of its crust.
Overall, this is a bulky kind of pizza that gives you more of a pie experience. However, this doesn’t mean that the crust is overly thick or doughy. If made properly, the deep dish Chicago style will give you a thin or medium crust in the center with plenty of fillings.
The History Behind This Pizza
As with any type of classic food, there’s an interesting history behind the Chicago style deep-dish pizza. It was invented back in 1943, at Pizzeria Uno. Not surprisingly, the location of this place was in Chicago.
However, there is some confusion about who was the actual inventor of the Chicago style deep dish pizza. Some are of the opinion that it was invented by one of the cofounders of Pizzeria Uno, namely Ike Sewell. However, others say that it was by a chef or cook, either Rudy Malnati or Alice May Rammond.
Several other restaurants added the deep-dish Chicago style pizza to their menu, such as the Original Gino’s Pizza. This establishment was founded in 1954 but isn’t around in its original state anymore. Gino’s East, which started in 1966, hired Alice May Redmond and Ruth Hadley as sister chef. This place is still hailed as being among the best restaurants for deep-dish pizza.
You may also look towards Pizano’s, Edwardo’s, Connie’s, and Lou Malnati’s for other deep-dish Chicago pizza experiences. Most of these have been around for decades, with staff who know what they’re doing.
Stuffed or Deep-Dish
There might be some confusion between a stuffed pizza and a deep-dish one. While stuffed pizza is also believed to originate in Chicago, it’s very different from the classic deep-dish style. In fact, this particular pizza came about much later, in 1974.
Giordano’s and Nancy’s are the two main establishments who introduced stuffed pizza to the American market, with both claiming that they use old family recipes for their wares.
In a nutshell, stuffed pizza is much more like a pie than any deep-dish offering. No matter how thick and filling a deep-dish pizza is, it’s still open-face like a regular pizza. On the other hand, the Chicago stuffed pizza is much deeper and has two crust layers, with the meat, cheese, and other fillings stuffed in the middle.
While stuffed pizza is also a popular option, the Chicago-style deep-dish is what gives us the true pizza experience.
The Process of Making Deep-Dish Chicago Style Pizza
The process of making deep-dish pizza is similar to a regular pizza, but with a few noticeable differences. The usual flour choice for the crust is a mixture of semolina and wheat flour. This combination results in a somewhat yellowish crust, which is again symbolic of the Chicago-style pizza.
Corn oil, butter, or something similar is also present in the dough recipe, which gives us a biscuity, buttery flavor. The dough is made in a pan, with the side forming a deep space for the fillings and cheese. In order to make sure that that pizza can easily be removed from the pan after baking, the latter is oiled beforehand.
The fillings of a deep-dish pizza have an interesting order, as they’re layered in the opposite way to a regular pizza. For instance, you usually put the sauce on the base, then the fillings, and sprinkle the cheese on in layers. However, the deep-dish pizza has the cheese on the base, with the meats /veggies/other fillings on top of it. The tomato sauce is on the very top.
This arrangement might seem strange, but it’s actually very effective for keeping the cheese from burning. Since the deep-dish pizza has to cook for longer, the variance is only logical. The tomato sauce itself is usually chunky, which helps with the flow of the other ingredients, which are also bulky.
We may touch upon stuffed pizza here again, which is made in a very similar manner. The dough layer does form a deep space, but there’s an additional flakier crust on top of the whole thing. In order to get a light, flaky texture, stuffed pizza dough requires canola oil rather than the deep-dish’s corn oil.
The Usual Ingredients
There are many kinds of pizzas available these days, with some ingredients that may surprise us. Some restaurants have even come up with a sweet version of pizza, which we can certainly imitate in a type of deep-dish. However, there are some classic ingredients that make Chicago pizza what it is.
For instance, the cheese inside a deep-dish Chicago style pizza is usually made up of mozzarella slices. Some restaurants or private individuals might like to vary up that choice, but they would then have to compromise on the resultant stringiness. Mozzarella is usually known as the pizza cheese, so one would have to use it for that authentic taste.
The fillings inside the pizza itself usually include some type of meat, mostly sausages or pepperoni. With more people trying to go for vegetarian options these days, some restaurants might give the options of filling the pizza with only vegetables, or even options like pineapple.
In order to complement the meaty ingredients and lend a chunky texture to the deep-dish pizza, the vegetables used are usually something like mushrooms, bell peppers, and onions. After this layer comes the tomato sauce, which is usually uncooked and chunky. You can even use crushed tomatoes right out of the can for the topping, while some like to add some Parmesan cheese at this point for more flavor.
Since the tomato sauce goes on top, we may expect the resultant pizza to have a reddish look after baking. This is quite an appetizing sight, especially when you cut it and have the cheese oozing out.
The Thin Crust Chicago Pizza
Chicago pizza might mostly be known as a deep-dish style, but it’s also available in a thin-crust version. This style of pizza is easily found in the Midwest, especially in Chicago itself.
With the thin crust, we have a crunchy experience as opposed to the thin-crust New York pizza style. What’s more, a pizza like this is cut into squares rather than the classic triangular slices. This is also known as a party or tavern-style, and is usually utilized for snacks or appetizers rather than a proper meal.
The thin crust Chicago style is also very popular. In fact, some sources state that this style sells better among Chicago locals than the more universal deep-dish Chicago pizza.
As we can see from the above discussion, the Chicago pizza styles have a lot to offer. We can choose between different ingredients, styles of crusts, and various recipes. If we’re craving an even denser and more filling experience, the stuffed pizza is also a Chicago style that we can try out.
We’ll find slightly different flavors and combination in different pizza places, of course. This would hopefully make the experience of Chicago style pizza more enjoyable. Let’s go and try out one as soon as possible!