If you’re from the Northeast, or if you haven’t been to Chicago, you may dismiss deep-dish pizza out of regional pride. That would be a mistake.
Real Chicago-style pizza is certainly thick, but its texture and flavor are something special: Instead of being bread-like, the crust offers the contrast of a good biscuit — airy inside, lightly crisp outside, and flaky throughout — and boasts a rich taste that holds its own under any topping. We wanted to achieve such results at home.
Deep-dish pizza crust includes a fair amount of fat. Some recipes rely on oil, but we thought the rich flavor of butter was unbeatable in this crust. We found cornmeal in just about every ingredient list we reviewed, and it indeed added good earthy flavor and crunch.
To achieve maximum flakiness, after mixing the dough and letting it rise, we employed a technique called laminating, which involves layering butter and dough through a sequence of rolling and folding to create ultra-flaky pastries. Adding melted butter to the pizza dough and spreading the rolled-out dough with softened butter before folding did the trick in our crust.
Moving the dough into the refrigerator for its second rise ensured that the butter remained in distinct layers and didn’t get too soft. For the finishing touch on our crust, we oiled our cake pans, which made the crust crisp and even more flavorful.
Following Chicago tradition, we covered the dough with shredded mozzarella before topping it with a thick tomato sauce. The cheese formed a barrier between the crust and the sauce, which prevented sogginess. A sprinkle of nutty Parmesan over the sauce provided a second layer of cheesy bite. We do not recommend mixing this dough by hand. Use the large holes of a box grater to grate the onion.