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Secret to Chicago deep dish? File not found

By Paul Suplee, MBA, CEC, PC-3

There comes a time in a man’s life that he has to weigh his personal safety against the demands of his clientele. I feel that I may be at that point in my career, as I have waited long enough to share the great secret of Chicago deep-dish pizza with those of you loyal readers who have stuck with me for 14 years (what in the world is wrong with you?).

My kids and I love the great city of Chicago, evidenced by a handful of articles over the past few years that reference this Great Lake port. The food scene is unbelievable, ranging from Chicago hot dogs to Italian beef sandwiches to the ubiquitous deep-dish pizza. Of course, there are plenty of pubs, taverns and bars bursting with bar food (it is on the great lakes and, as such, the mid-westerners tend to appreciate their indoor drinking spaces in the colder months).

Naturally, there are barbecue joints and fantastic steakhouses due to the Chicago stockyards and its existence as a rail hub for well over 100 years. Midwest beef has at one point or another typically made its way through Chicago before it reaching us on the right coast or the hippies on the left.

And speaking of beef, Billy Goat Tavern is a necessary go-to burger-centric beer palace located in the subterranean jungle that makes Chicago such a well-planned city, with its trash collection removed from sight, unlike Manhattan with its mounds of leaking trash bags on the front sidewalk of many a café, market and restaurant. But I digress, and I certainly do not want to make my New York readers upset, but apples-to-apples, Chicago easily merits the compliment of being a cleaner city downtown; just an observation. And when you throw the park system into the mix, it is difficult for me to think about visiting another city. It’s simply amazing what the city planners did to get things right.

But back to the deep-dish pie, the kids and I now know what we’re looking for. On our first trip to Chi-town, the kids and I ate our way through Giordano’s (our favorite for flavor), Gino’s East (our favorite for ambience, with countless names and dates scribbled on the walls, booths, tables and posts in paint pen), Lou Malnati’s and Pequod’s. It was a rough outing, but we were dedicated to the cause, so ahead we plowed through unfathomable amounts of cheese and dough.

And everywhere we went, I as a chef asked the secret to making a pie. No one would share until the last restaurant in which we supped. The owner was more than happy to take me back in the kitchen and share the well-kept secret of Chicago deep-dish pizza creation. It was something so unique and simple that I couldn’t believe it.

“So that’s what is keeping the cheese from running all over the place!” I stated in awe.

“Yep. That’s it,” quipped the owner. Then I paid the bill and went on my merry way, a wiser and more complete man.

Having learned this secret directly from the aforementioned owner of one of the great pie shops in the Windy City, I still can appreciate his hospitality, and it has not gone unnoted. I have prepared these quite a few times since in class and many more times at home; last night being no exception.

But, to be fair, I am concerned that letting out this great secret could put me on a blacklist of sorts with the pie kings and queens. Chicago maintains a reputation and history of not being a soft town, so I just have to hope that word does not get back to that owner. I could be in serious trouble.

Oh well, you are worth it! Enjoy this amazing pie and don’t skimp on the cheese. It’s worth it just as much as this is worth my life.

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza
makes one big stinkin’ pie

30 ounce pizza dough ball (see step 1)
2 Tbsp. EV Olive oil
Garlic salt, as needed
1 pound Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 pound Provolone/Mozzarella mix
1 pound Quesadilla cheese blend
1 cup Don Pepino’s pizza sauce
1 cup Crushed tomatoes with Italian herbs

  1. If you make your own pizza dough, divide it into one 20-ounce dough ball and one 10-ounce dough ball. Set the smaller one aside for right now
  2. Preheat oven to conventional 425F
  3. Take a 12-inch cake pan or Chicago-style heavy-duty pizza pan and coat it with the olive oil
  4. Sprinkle pan with garlic salt and roll out the 20-ounce dough ball so that it hangs over the edge of the pan
  5. Add the cheese, holding two cups aside for later, in one big blob in the pan and now comes the secret to a great deep dish pizza
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  7. Once that is done and holes are pinched, spread the sauce on top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese
  8. You can sprinkle a little more garlic salt on top if you like for a little more zing
  9. Bake for anywhere from 25-40 minutes, depending on the reliability of your oven
  10. Remove when the pie is a toasty color and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving