At the cost of sounding “cheesy”, Mamma Mia! … this Chicago Style Skillet Pizza will have your friends and neighbors ordering from you and knocking on your door for take out!
Bringing Chicago Pizza to California
Since moving to Southern California from my home town of Chicago many years ago, I have constantly craved Chicago-style pizza.
I mostly miss the thin-crust pizza topped with cheese, sausage and mushrooms cut into squares, but I also love the deep-dish pizza loaded and stuffed with gooey goodness.
However, over time, I found the deep dish too bready and too heavy, so I basically avoided it.
Since I couldn’t find a decent pizza that lived up to the Chicago style pizza standard, I decided to create my own. And it was the perfect appetizer for our Little Italy Chicago Gr8 Dinner Party!
Call me a self-proclaimed pizza snob!
My Chicago Style Pizza Perfect Crust
Contrary to what most people think about Chicago pizza dough having cornmeal in the crust, it is not the case.
The flavor of the crust is in the oil, and the crunchy texture comes from the dusting of the corn meal in the pan before spreading out the dough.
You may be tempted to try a store-bought pizza dough instead of making your own, but it will not turn out the same, and you will be disappointed. Not all pizza dough is the same.
Furthermore, the dough for this recipe takes only a few minutes to make, and it is well worth it. Be sure to allow enough time to let the pizza crust rise.
My recipe for the Chicago style skillet pizza is a combination of the two types of pizza I loved as I was growing up in Chicago.
Neither thin nor thick, this pizza has a light, flaky and crunchy crust, built to hold the weight of the wonderful toppings.
“Crust” me, you’ll love it!
The quality of the ingredients is key as well as the layering process of the pizza. Unlike most pizzas, the cheese is on the bottom, and the sauce is on the top.
Layered with sausage and pepperoni or any of your favorite toppings, this will undoubtedly be your go-to recipe for pizza, and you will never want to order delivery again!
Hope you try this recipe. I “knead” to know if you love it as much as I do!
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Chicago Style Skillet Pizza
- 12" cast iron skillet
- Pizza scissors or pizza cutting wheel
- Large cutting board
- Kitchenaid mixer or sturdy mixing spoon
Ingredients for pizza dough
Ingredients for pizza sauce
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup onion, minced
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil, or 3/4 teaspoon dried
- 1- 14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes, I like San Marzano
Ingredients for toppings
- 2- 8 ounce packages sliced low moisture part skim mozzarella cheese, about 22 thin slices
- 1/2 pound mild Italian sausage, casings removed and pressed thin
- 5 ounces thinly sliced pepperoni, I like Boar's Head
- 1/8 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, optional
- Fresh basil, sliced (optional)
- Sauteed chopped green peppers, onions or sliced mushrooms, see Gr8 notes, drain off excess moisture
Instructions for making pizza dough
- Dissolve yeast and sugar in the warm water and set aside until bubbles form. At least 10 minutes.
- Mix flour and salt in a large mixing bowl (bowl of a KitchenAid mixer if using).
- Add the water and yeast mixture to the flour and salt and mix for a few minutes to incorporate the ingredients.
- STAND MIXER - Add the oil and using the dough hook mix thoroughly until a ball of dough is formed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Use the #2 setting and knead for about 5 minutes. Then turn onto a floured surface and knead by hand for another 5 minutes until the dough is soft and smooth.
- BY HAND - Add the oil and use your sturdy spoon to mix thoroughly until a ball of dough is formed. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for another 10 minutes or until dough is soft and smooth. If the dough appears too dry, add a bit more water.
- Clean out the same bowl and lightly grease the bottom and sides with olive oil.
- Place the dough in the greased bowl and turn over to coat.
- Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and allow to rest in a warm place for approximately 3 hours or until nearly doubled in size.
Instructions for making pizza sauce
- Saute onion in olive oil on medium heat until translucent. Add garlic and saute a few more minutes until softened. Make sure the garlic doesn't burn.
- Add the salt, oregano and pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently for one minute. Add the fresh basil and continue to cook for one or two more minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and bring to a light boil. Reduce the heat to low, season to taste.
- Cover and allow to simmer for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
To assemble and bake the pizza
- Preheat oven to 425℉.
- Using a wad of paper towels, coat the bottom and sides of the skillet with 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil.
- Start with a few tablespoons and start to sprinkle enough corn meal around the bottom and sides of the pan to completely cover it. This will prevent the pizza from sticking to the pan when removing it.
- Take the dough out of the bowl and place onto a very lightly oiled surface and knead the dough for a minute or two until smooth.
- Place the dough in the center of the skillet.
- Using the palm of your hand or your fingers, press the dough down into a large flat disc stretching it out until you have covered most of the bottom of the pan. Working wth your fingers, keep pressing the dough in the pan until it completely covers the bottom of the pan and half way up the sides. Sometimes the dough likes to spring away from the sides. That is totally normal. Cover the pan with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rest in the pan for 10-15 minutes. Repeat the process until the dough stays in place. Cover with the same towel and let it sit in a warm place for 20-30 minutes.
- Remove the towel and prick the entire crust lightly with the tines of a fork. Parbake the crust for no longer than 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and start the assembly of the pizza.
- Layer one package of the thinly sliced cheese over the crust overlapping each slice leaving a 1/2-inch edge around the perimeter. Layer the second package of cheese over the first layer.
- Press the sausage in a very thin layer and add it on top of the cheese all the way around. No need to precook the sausage as it will cook through in the high heat.
- Layer the pepperoni slices on top of the sausage.
- Add the sauce on top of the pepperoni.
- Sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top (optional).
- Bake for 40-50 minutes or until pizza starts to slightly bubble and the crust is golden brown. Oven temperatures vary so you may want to check the pizza at 35 minutes.
- Remove the pizza from the oven and let it rest in the pan for 10 minutes.
- Slide the pizza out of the pan onto a large cutting board.
- Let the pizza rest for a few more minutes before slicing.
- Garnish with fresh basil before serving (optional).
- Both the sauce and pizza dough can be made the day before. After the initial rise of the dough, place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight. When ready to assemble the pizza, remove the dough from the bowl, cover with plastic and leave it out for at least 30-45 minutes to warm up to room temperature before using it.
- The sauce should be stored in a sealed container. It will last in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
- For the toppings, if adding mushrooms, onions and green peppers, sauté the vegetables in a little olive oil over medium heat until just cooked through. Cover the pan with a lid or wax paper and turn off the heat. Sweating the vegetables under a cover will help maintain the identity of the vegetables without burning them. Drain off the excess moisture before placing on your pizza. Layer over the pepperoni then top with the sauce.
- It is not recommended to cut the pizza in the pan as it can scratch the pan. Once you have removed the pizza onto the cutting board it stays hot.