This Chicago-style deep dish pizza is incredibly satisfying, stuffed with Italian sausage, green and red bell peppers, sweet onion, rich tomato sauce, and two different cheeses.
After enjoying a mini-vacation in Chicago last weekend, which of course included some deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati's, I came home itching to try my hand at this polarizing pizza style. When done wrong, deep dish crust can be soggy and full of oil, and the amount of toppings can be overwhelming; when done right, the dough stands up to just the right amount of toppings, each indulgent bite includes a little of everything, and the sauce seeps into the crust just enough to soften it up.
For my first deep dish pizza with sausage, peppers, and onion, I riffed just slightly off of the Deep-Dish Pizza Dough recipe in Kate McMillan's Pizza Night, mixing in some whole wheat flour, using sea salt, and employing my electric mixer instead of the food processor. The result was more bready than the classic version I tried in Chicago, but in the end I thought that was a good thing, since it prevents the pizza from getting too oily. And the toppings? How could I go wrong with sausage, peppers, and onion? Doesn't get more classic than that.
Looking for more knife-and-fork pizzas? Here are a few others you might like:
- Grandma Pizza with Sausage, Pepper, Onion, and Mushrooms
- Buffalo Cauliflower Pizza
- Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Pizza
- Truffled Mac and Cheese Pizza
Deep Dish Pizza with Sausage, Peppers, and Onion
- Electric (stand) mixer
- Cutting board and knife
- Wooden spoon
- 10-inch cast iron skillet
For the dough (recipe adapted from Kate McMillan's Pizza Night cookbook)
- 2¾ cups bread flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- ⅔ cup cornmeal
- 1½ tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
- 1 (¼-ounce) packet instant or quick-rise dry yeast
- 1½ cups warm tap water
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
For the pizza
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing the skillet and brushing the dough
- ½ pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
- ½ medium yellow onion, sliced
- ½ red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
- ½ green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
- 1 cup New York Style Pizza Sauce (or your favorite store-bought pizza sauce)
- 1 cup shredded low-moisture mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar, provolone, or aged gouda cheese
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make the dough
- Combine the flours, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix until everything is incorporated, then, with the motor running, gradually stream in the water and oil. If there is still a decent amount of dry flour at the bottom of the bowl after all the liquid has been added, pour in a little more water and mix until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Continue mixing for 30 more seconds, then turn off the mixer and transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Form the dough into a smooth ball. Oil a large bowl, place the dough inside, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a tight-fitting lid. Let the dough rise for 2 hours or until it has doubled in volume.
- Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and punch it down. Divide the dough into two equal portions. If you're making two deep-dish pizzas, form both portions into balls, cover them with an inverted bowl or a piece of plastic wrap, and let them rest for 10 to 15 minutes. If you're only making one pizza, place the second ball of dough in a large zip-top bag and freeze it for a future pizza night (it will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer).
To make the pizza
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a deep 10-inch cast iron skillet with olive oil.
- Heat the teaspoon of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, crumble the sausage into the skillet and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until it's no longer pink. Transfer the sausage to a plate and pour out all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the skillet. Return the skillet to medium heat and add the onion and peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and beginning to caramelize. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the sausage. Set aside.
- Place the dough ball in the prepared cast iron skillet and press it out so that it covers the bottom and halfway up the sides of the pan. Make sure to press it all the way into the corners, and make it as even a thickness as you can. Brush the dough with a little oil.
- Scoop the sausage, pepper, and onion mixture into the dough, pour the sauce over top, and finish with the cheeses. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Bake the pizza for 35 minutes or until the bottom crust is golden brown.
- Let it rest for 5 minutes, then slice and serve with forks and knives.