We recently were challenged by out of town colleagues to create our rendition of a deep dish Chicago style pizza. We decided that the cast-iron skillet was the best way to produce the pizza. It turned out delicious, with a nice think crust, and just the right amount of cheese. We thought we'd share the recipe here. Fun for the family or out of town guests.
Deep Dish Skillet Pizza Chicago-Style
Yield: 8-10 servings
A cast-iron skillet and very hot oven will give you your own thick, rich slice of Chicago-style pizza pie.
What you need:
12-inch cast iron skillet
Pizza dough – home made or from your favorite fresh market’s fridge section
Italian or pork sausage – fresh, seasoned and juicy.
Extra-virgin olive oil
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Whole Milk Low Moisture Mozzarella.
Grated Fresh Parmesan or Asiago
Fresh Basil Leaves
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Mince up to 2 cloves garlic and measure 1 tsp. of dried oregano, and mix it together in a small dish and put aside. Take approx. 10 ounces (about 2 cups) of Mozzarella and slice it medium thin, set aside. Measure 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and set aside.
Take the sweet or spicy sausage – 1/2 LB which equals about 4 links, and slice it into half inch round cuts. Then heat a skillet over a medium-high heat adding 2 TB’s extra-virgin olive oil. Cook your sausage in the olive oil skillet until brown on each side. Usually takes about 8-10 minutes. Turn off heat and cover.
Now COAT the inside and on the top rim of your 12-inch cast iron skillet with about 2TB’s of unsalted butter. SPRINKLE about 1TB of cornmeal on bottom.
With a rolling pin or hands, roll out 1 LB of pizza dough. The dough should be at room temperature. Take your pizza dough and line it in the center of your skillet, then spread it evenly up the sides, about 1-½ inches up the sides.
Now you’re ready to layer. Take your cooked sausage pieces first and evenly lay it inside the skillet on the dough. Then, take 1 cup of Marinara sauce – homemade or by the jar, and pour it on top of the sausage. Then your slices of mozzarella go on top of both, covering it evenly and completely. Sprinkle your oregano or seasonings mix and garlic mix on top. Now take the 3/4 = cup of fresh Parmesan, to sprinkle on top, and finish with 2TB of extra-virgin olive oil drizzled on top.
Pizza will work best if the cast iron skillet is HOT. Turn up your stove to HIGH heat and cook the pizza over high heat for about 3 minutes. The pan will be very hot.
Now CAREFULLY move your skillet pizza on BOTTOM RACK of the oven. Cook until you see the edge of the crust is brown and crusty and filling is bubbly, about 30 minutes. Remove and let it sit for about 5 minutes before removing the pizza from the Skillet with a large spatula.
Garnish top with fresh basil leaves.
TIPS: Make sure that the mozzarella is aged, whole milk and “regular” or labeled low moisture. Low moisture is made by souring fresh mozzarella longer, then drying it out. It has a saltier flavor and better melt ability than fresh mozzarella. You can also use skim, but make sure it is labeled low moisture.
Order of layering is key to an excellent crispy crust. With a skillet, start by layering with sausage first.
You can also mix equal parts of dried Italian herbs (oregano, basil, rosemary) or find a special blend of pizza seasonings at your favorite fresh market. Add 1 TB of red pepper flakes
Brush the top edges with a little olive oil for a beautiful, light brown sheen.
For non-meat eaters, substitute sausage with mushrooms, green peppers, olives or other favorites.
If you want a less greasy meat option, try turkey sausage.