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Apr 7, 2008 02:42 PM

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza Crust Recipe - How do I get that Buttery Goodness?

I visited Chicago a couple weeks ago and simply cannot shake this craving for that seriously buttery and delicious crust that I tasted at Lou Manalti's. I've done many searches - Google and Chowhound alike - and every recipe I've found is basically a combination of yeast, water, AP flour, cornmeal, olive oil, and sometimes vegetable oil as well. So I wonder - where does that delicious buttery flavor come from? And what's the best way that I can replicate it at home? I found a recipe that also called for shortening, which I thought was interesting/promising, but I'm hoping my fellow 'Hounds can help me out here with some insight. :-)

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    1. I'm craving deep dish pizza too! There's a great Chicago pizza place in Palo Alto, CA and San Francisco called Patxi's that I'm seriously missing right now.

      Here's a link to another deep dish crust recipe:

      Found it after a google search including the term "biscuity". That's how I've always thought deep dish crust tasted. When I was little, Uno's crust made me think of Bisquick.

      1. After moving out of chicago 3 years ago I have been trying every single deep dish crust recipe I could find! the buttery flavor for me comes from coating the cast iron skillet with butter before putting in the dough but this recipe is fantastic:

        Chicago deep dish pizza dough
        3 1/4 cups flour
        1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
        1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
        2 teaspoons sugar
        2 1/4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
        1 1/4 cups warm water
        ½ cup olive oil

        Mix yeast ¼ cup of warm water, ¼ cup of flour and sugar in a bowl cover and let stand in a warm place for 15~20 minutes then mix in all the other ingredients mix well and let stand covered for about 1.5 hours, punch down and knead until the correct texture is achieved (add a bit more flower so it’s not sticky) split into two dough balls and roll out for two pizzas!

        3 Replies
        1. re: sfafard

          As an expat Chicagoan, my 10th anniversary dinner tonight is riding on this crust recipe. Midst proofing the dough, though, I could already tell that this recipe is 100% the proper consistency and precisely what I needed (with a little butter) for a perfect "Old Chicago Pizza" (i.e. Paul's 79th and Cottage Grove deep-dish pie, a/k/a my gold standard forever and ever for the genre) to recreate such a piece of wonder in a Brooklyn kitchen. I confess, though, that I am using Scott Conant's tomato sauce recipe fortified with some extra garlic and a combination of local Bay Ridge and buffalo mozzarella. Wish me luck that our crappy oven doesn't go on strike halfway through baking!

          1. re: sfafard

            I just got done making this deep dish pan, I am an avid vegan dieter and I love to cook new things. I cooked this dough in my cast iron pan on 375 for about 30 minutes, it was the best tasting lightest crispiest dough I have ever made in my life, even during culinary school.


            1. re: sfafard

              Thanks for this recipe Sfafard! I make no claim to know what real Chicago crust should taste like, but as a Vegan, pizza can be a real challenge. the fake cheese just kills the whole experience and tends to burn before the crust is done... I decided to try deep dish so I could bury the "cheese" so it wouldnt get too overdone, as usual. Complete success! this crust is fabulous! I swapped half the olive oil for melted earth balance buttery sticks (melted) , topped it with fresh tomato basil and garlic puree, a light layer of Daiya cheese, a big pile of carmelized onions and roasted red peppers, and baked it at 400 for 35 min in a large cast iron pan. The texture was perfect, and it tasted buttery and decadent. Thanks for giving me back pizza to love! I will swear by this recipe from now on.

            2. Remember that the pans they are using to cook the pizzas in have been seasoned for years and years. A lot of the flavor comes from that.

              1 Reply
              1. re: lbs

                How correct you are. As a Chicago native and cook (now living & working in the Grand Canyon National Park), just as with Chinese cooking, their 'secret' is a well 'seasoned' wok. Same here: All the great Chicago pizza's (say Gino's East for example), are cooking in pans that have been used for YEARS, simply wiping them out with hot water. (As is done with wok's in Chinese restaurants.) I specifically replied to this post to let others know, if you wish to have the EXACT same pan's as used at LouMalnati's, they sell them mail order through TASTESOFCHICAGO.COM item number LS1300. You can also buy their Pan/Spatula combo. Final comment: Be sure of course to properly 'season' the new pan before beginning to use it. If unsure how to do this, Google it, there are many good cooking sites that will walk you through the process. Best of luck to all, buy the pan, keep using it until it get's black & grungy (lol) knowing that like a fine wine, it will only become better by age.

              2. Cooks Illustrated took on Chicago Deep Dish sometime in the last year or so. Can't find the copy at the moment, but will see if I can dig it up.

                So far as I know, the buttery taste comes from butter.

                7 Replies
                1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                  Sorry, but no on the Cook's Illustrated recipe. I tried it when I saw it on the show. It's a pan pizza crust like you would find in an airport lounge deep-dish pie, but it's nowhere close to a real chicago deep dish crust which is buttery and almost flakey. Chicago deep dish crust tastes like rich pastry. If you've never had it in Chicago, you probably don't know what it takes like. I grew up in California and always assumed I hated deep dish based on what was available there. Then I went to graduate school in Chicago and discovered how amazing real deep dish can be.

                  1. re: saucedjen

                    Oh, I wasn't vouching for it, just passing along info. Haven't tried the recipe. Too bad it's no good, altho I still might give it a shot, if only to learn what not to do.

                    And, yeah, born-and-raised in Chicago, and a few years ago when I lived in delivery range I seriously had "Lou's" on the cell phone contact list. Drivers knew me by name.

                    1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                      There are two CI based recipes. One is from years ago, I think it uses potatoes or cornmeal in the crust. It is good for people who have never tried Chicago's. However, they put out a new recipe recently trying the replicate the buttery flakiness of a Chicago crust. It might be worth a look.

                      1. re: Becca Porter

                        Thanks for clarifying, Becca, I was definitely referencing the newer version. Will post a report sometime in the near future.

                        1. re: Becca Porter

                          I've made the new CI recipe several times. Some might bicker about its authenticity (cornmeal! gasp!), but it's hard to screw up and tastes very much like the real deal from Chicago. It takes time and practice to get it perfect, but it's pretty great. The buttery taste comes from a whole honking lot of butter.

                          1. re: NonnieMuss

                            If you want to make it right, then make it right. If you don't, then don't. Cornmeal in the dough (even finely ground cornmeal) lends an unpleasant grittiness to the pizza (which is why they don't use it). The buttery taste actually comes from the corn oil. I find butter (and milk) in a pizza dough to be unpleasant, but to each his or her own!

                            1. re: NonnieMuss

                              I finally saw the CI show and had a good laugh! there is no cornmeal in Chicago deep dish. There is no butter (except some chains grease their pans with butter--the buuter flavor comes from corn oil. And with the short knead, there's no reason to laminate the dough (although you can). And never, never cook the sauce.