Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

The first musical to win a Best Picture Oscar since Oliver! in 1969, the seventh film in the 12 Days of Oscar series is the 2002 film Chicago.  Taking place in 1920’s era Chicago, the film focuses on Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger), who are both on death row for committing separate murders.  Velma is a famous vaudevillian and Roxie is a housewife desperate for a famous vaudeville act.  With the help of lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) Roxie manages to become the newest celebrity of the prison, which disgusts Velma and thrills Mama Morton (Queen Latifah).  Roxie’s trial becomes a media circus and after it ends, Roxie and Velma find themselves working together despite their mutual hatred.  Chicago was nominated for thirteen Oscars, and won six.  In addition to Best Picture, the film won in the following categories: Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Catherine Zeta-Jones), Best Art Direction- Set Decoration, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound.

The city of Chicago is known for many foods, including the Italian beef sandwich and Chicago hot dog but the food possibly most often associated with Chicago is the deep dish pizza.  If you’re not familiar with deep dish pizza, instead of having a flat crust, it is baked in a pan that resembles a cake pan (I use a springform) giving the crust sides that are filled in with sauce, cheese and toppings.  The sauce is chunkier than a traditional pizza sauce, because it is made from whole or chopped tomatoes and goes on the pizza without being cooked.  I did break with tradition and add more mozzarella cheese on top, then more toppings.  I did it this way because the kiddos will eat just about anything on a pizza if it is covered in cheese, and because I made two of these at the same time and wanted to keep track of which toppings went into which pizza.  To top this one, I used cooked Italian sausage, thinly sliced red onion, and sliced mushrooms.  You can use whatever toppings you like, and about three cups of toppings are sufficient to fill the crust.  I used a 12″ springform pan to make one pizza.  If you don’t have a springform pan (or one that large), two nine-inch cake pans will work just as well.   The crust is buttery perfection and even if Lane calls this “pizza casserole” (I blame it on him being a New Yorker), it was a huge hit.

chicago deep dish

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza


for the crust:

  • 4 C. all- purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp. yellow cornmeal
  • 1 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 3/4 tsp. 
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil or salad oil
  • 1 C. + 2 Tbsp. lukewarm water

for the filling and toppings:

  • 3 C. toppings of your choice (sautéed vegetables, cooked sausage, or pepperoni suggested)
  • 3/4 lb. mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 28 oz. can plum tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 C. freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided


Combine the dough ingredients and knead by hand or using the a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook until smooth, about 7 minutes if using the stand mixer on medium-low speed.

Lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough into it, then turn to coat the dough with oil.

Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

Prepare the pan by spraying it with non-stick cooking spray, then drizzle in 3 Tbsp. of olive oil and tilt the pan so the oil coats the bottom of the pan and partway up the sides.

When the dough has risen for 1 hour, use your hands to stretch the dough out into as large of a circle as you can (it should be much larger than the diameter of the baking pan), or roll it out on a lightly floured surface.

Lay the dough in the pan, and press it to cover the bottom and up the sides of the pan.

Cover, and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Start preheating the oven to 425 degrees while the dough rests.

Check to ensure that the dough covers the bottom and sides of the pan, and press into place if needed.

Let the crust continue to rest until the oven reaches 425 degrees.

Bake the crust for 10 minutes, until it’s set and just barely beginning to brown.

While the crust bakes, start preparing the filling by mixing the drained tomatoes with the basil, oregano, sugar, and garlic.  Add salt to taste if necessary.

Remove the crust from the oven and cover the bottom of the crust with the sliced mozzarella.

Add your toppings of choice on top of the mozzarella.

Top with the tomato mixture.

Sprinkle with the grated Parmesan cheese (you can add additional mozzarella here like I did, but that’s completely optional).

Drizzle the top of the pizza with the remaining 1 Tbsp. of olive oil.

Bake for 25 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the top is golden brown.

Remove the pizza from the oven and carefully lift it out of the pan (if you’re using a springform, release the collar and carefully slide the pizza off of the base) onto a wire rack.

Allow the pizza to cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting.

Makes 12 servings

Source: adapted from King Arthur Flour

chicago deep dish slice


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