Deep Dish Hot Italian Sausage Pizza

Deep Dish Hot Italian Sausage Pizza
Deep Dish Hot Italian Sausage Pizza

The birth of Chicago-style deep dish pizza is often credited to Ike Sewell, the businessman and restaurateur who opened the first Pizzeria Uno deep-dish restaurant 1943, though there are a few stories that contradict Sewell’s role as the deep dish progenitor. But it was Pizzeria Uno that popularized this dish and turned it into the regional specialty we have today.

Chicago-style deep dish is a little bit odd to those who’ve not had it before. It’s got the proper components—crust, tomato sauce, cheese, toppings—but it’s assembled in an odd order. And it’s made in a skillet or specialty baking pan, so it’s significantly thicker than most mainstream pizza and has a smaller circumference. This pizza is layered with meats or vegetables and several types of cheese, so it’s hearty and filling. Chicagoland’s favorite type of meat for their deep dish is sausage, so this is a great showcase for our Hot Italian Sausage Seasoning. It’s spicy, of course, from both cayenne pepper and crushed red pepper flakes, but it’s also got fragrant fennel and parsley and a bit of aromatic garlic. This seasoning is well-rounded and bold, and ready to hold its own against rich pork, melty cheese, and tart tomato sauce. Saute ground pork in Hot Italian Sausage Seasoning and then—this is very important when it comes to assembly—drain the pork really well of excess fat.

While you could look for pre-made pizza dough, we strongly recommend making your own. Dough does take a bit of time since it needs to rise, but it’s got a great, clean taste that won’t be found in commercial products. And we suggest using an instant-read thermometer when getting ready to mix your yeast. Yeast will bloom in lukewarm water; its ideal temperature is between 100°F and 105°F. If your water is more than 120°F, the yeast will start to die. If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer, test the water on the inside of your wrist as though you were checking a baby’s bottle, because that’s about the right temperature, too. Stir in yeast and Demerara Sugar. You may see the yeast react right away, though it could take a few minutes if it’s very old. Cover the yeast water with a towel or some plastic wrap and put it somewhere relatively warm and draft-free. As the yeast blooms it will start to bubble and release that signature bready, yeast-y smell. That’s the yeast waking up and feeding on the sugar in the water; if, after 10 minutes you don’t see bubbles or have the smell, it means the yeast is dead. Throw your yeast water out and try again.

Once you have fully bloomed your yeast, stir it together with flour, Kosher Salt, and Cream of Tartar. Mix in some vegetable oil, and once you have a fairly smooth dough, start kneading. Knead for 10 minutes by hand, or 5 minutes if you have a stand mixer with a dough hook. And yes, we chose vegetable oil for this dish. Olive oil has a lower smoke point than vegetable oil, which means at higher temperatures it could scorch and create an unpleasant taste in your pizza. Put your dough into an oiled bowl, coat the top of the dough with more oil, cover with a towel, and set the dough aside to rise. If you’re not using your oven or stove top while the dough proofs, then the inside of the oven is ideal. If you’re going to cook something on the stove, that could send heat to the interior of the oven, so opt for a closet or cabinet. Leave it alone for two hours. The dough should double in size.

Once your dough is ready, you can start assembling the pizza. Oil your skillet all around the inside, both to ensure a relatively easy removal of the pizza and to fry the dough a little as it cooks. Press dough all around the inside of your pan, even up the sides, and then start assembling the toppings. Chicago deep dish pizza is assembled somewhat upside-down, where the meats and cheeses are underneath the sauce. This helps control the way that moisture interacts with the crust as it bakes, since tomato sauce on the bottom will create a soggy crust. It also prevents the cheese from burning, since baking for half an hour at high heat could do some serious damage to cheese. We’ve seen recipes that called for laying the cheese down first to form a sort of cheese-based barrier against moisture, but we put down the well-drained pork first. Regardless of the order in which you choose to place your toppings, make sure your cheese is a low-moisture variety. We used deli cuts of provolone and mozzarella to keep the moisture low, and would never use fresh mozzarella in this mix.

After you’ve got your meat and cheese in place, spoon Simple Red Sauce over the pizza. This sauce it tart and a touch smoky, adding terrific contrast to the creaminess of the cheese and the spiciness of the seasoning blend. Grate some parmesan cheese all over the top of the pizza and put it in your hot oven to bake. If your oven has hot spots or uneven heating, rotate the pizza front to back, about halfway through the cooking time, and then let it finish. The sauce should be bubbly and look a bit more brown than it looked going in, and the visible edges of the crust should be golden brown, with some darker, charred spots.

You need to let this pizza sit for at least 10 minutes before cutting it, to let the cheese firm up. Otherwise it will be a hot, runny mess that’s much less fun to eat. Serve this with a simple salad to round out the carbs in the meal, and enjoy a pizza that’s not quite on the beaten path, but still cheesy and delicious and delivers the comforts of home.

 Print Recipe

Prep Time: 30 min.
Cooking Time: 30 min.
Category: Pizza, Pork, Newest Recipes
Cuisine: American

1. Stir water, Demerara Sugar, and yeast together. Wrap tightly and allow yeast to bloom in a warm area for 10 minutes.

2. Combine Hot Italian Sausage Seasoning and ground pork and brown on the stovetop. Drain excess fat. Set aside.

3. Mix flour, Kosher Salt, and Cream of Tartar, then add dry mixture to yeast water.

4. Pour vegetable oil into the dough mixture and then work the dough by hand for 10 minutes, or for 5 minutes in a stand mixer with a dough hook. Shape into a ball, cover, and allow to rest for 2 hours. Ideally it should rest in a draft-free, room temperature spot. It should double in size.

5. Preheat oven to 475°F. Oil a cast iron skillet, then make the crust by pressing dough down so it covers the entire inside of the skillet, including the sides.

6. Fill uncooked pizza shell with the hot Italian sausage, then layer with provolone and mozzarella, Simple Red Sauce, and finish with parmesan cheese. Brush top of crust with vegetable oil.

7. Bake in a 475°F oven for 25-30 minutes, until crust is golden brown and sauce is bubbly.

8. Let sit for at least 10 minutes and up to 20 minutes before cutting and serving.