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My Malnati’s Pizza

by Lori on April 8th, 2011

Deep dish pizza minus a slice, take two

If you are anywhere near Chicago, you must try Lou Malnati’s pizza. It is a Chicago deep dish pizza classic. If you are not anywhere near Chicago, try making it at home with Marc Malnati’s Chicago deep dish pizza recipe.

The Story

My father-in-law and I both celebrate our birthdays in March, and we both had the same birthday wish this year: to have Lou’s pizza. My father-in-law had his pizza shipped from Illinois to Iowa on dry ice. I traveled to Chicago for my pizza. With today’s gas prices, my pizza was a bit more expensive, but definitely worth it.

The last day of our Chicago trip Ken and I went to Lou’s River North location on Wells for lunch. The place was packed. We grabbed the last two seats at the bar and ordered the Malnati’s Chicago Classic from the menu. It was a birthday wish come true with all the gooey cheese, spicy sausage and Lou’s special butter crust.
A slice of Lou Maltnati's pizza

After lunch, we headed over to the Chicago Cultural Center for an afternoon of culture. We were excited to discover Vivian Maier’s photography was on exhibit. Vivian was born in the 1920s, a Chicago nanny who never had kids of her own and an extremely talented street photographer. She didn’t even see many of her own photos in her lifetime, which were discovered on undeveloped rolls of film shortly before her death in 2009. You can check out some of her stunning pictures and learn more about her story on the blog of one of the guys who discovered her photos.

About the Recipe

In addition to discovering the Vivian Maier photography exhibit, I also recently discovered a Chicago Style Pizza Recipe on Food Network’s website. Now I can make it at home without driving to Chicago or having it shipped on dry ice. This recipe is from Marc Malnati, owner of Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria and Lou’s son.

Disclaimer: This pizza is not the same version we had at Lou’s. The crust didn’t have the same butter flavor, and it was more like bread than pizza.

The Cast of Characters

Rolling out the dough, take two

This crust is the power player in this recipe. You’ll need lots of flour and yeast.

The Play-by-Play

In the microwave, heat the water to 110 degrees.
Testing the water temperature

Add the yeast and let proof for 10-15 minutes.
Opening the yeast

In a stand mixer, add the yeast mixture with the remaining crust ingredients.
The ingredients before mixing

With a dough hook, mix on low speed for 2-3 minutes until the dough forms into a ball.
Kneading the dough in mixer

In a lightly oiled bowl, place the dough. Cover and let rest for 4 hours.
The pizza dough rises, take two

Roll the dough in some cornmeal, and spread the dough into two large baking pans.
Rolling out the crust

Sprinkle the cheese on top of the crust.
Add cheese, take two

Pour the tomato sauce on top of the cheese.
Add tomato sauce, take two

Toss the sausage on top of the sauce.
Add sausage, take two

Bake for 30-40 minutes.
Deep dish pizzas in the oven

Let cool for a couple of minutes in the pan.
Deep dish pizza out of the oven, take three

Cut yourself a slice, and enjoy!
A slice of deep dish pizza, take two

Recipe: Chicago Style Pizza

Summary: A variation on Marc Malnati’s classic deep dish pizza recipe.

Ingredients

For the crust:
The original recipe was scaled down from a recipe used in the restaurant, so many of the ingredients are listed by weight. I used my scale to convert everything to cups. Here are my conversions:

  • 2 cups water
  • ½ packet of yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 1/2 cups four
  • ¼ cup olive oil

For the toppings:
I made a few variations of my own to try to match the sausage pizza we had at Lou’s.

  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 2 cups Italian sausage, cooked

Instructions

  1. In a microwave, heat the water to 110 degrees. Add the yeast and let proof for 10-15 minutes.
  2. In a stand mixer, mix the yeast mixture with the remaining crust ingredients using a dough hook on low speed for 2-3 minutes.
  3. In a lightly oiled bowl, place the dough. Cover and let rest for 4 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  5. Roll the dough in cornmeal, and spread the dough into two large baking pans.
  6. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the crust.
  7. Pour the tomato sauce on top of the cheese.
  8. Toss the sausage on top of the sauce.
  9. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

The Footnotes

  • About the dough: This recipe makes a lot of dough. It ended up being more like bread than pizza. I used one 12-inch pan and one 10-inch pan. Next time I would use larger pans or cut the dough ingredients in half. I would also roll the dough thinner.
  • About the cornmeal: The original recipe called for cornmeal in the ingredient list, but didn’t use cornmeal in the instructions. I ended up just rolling the dough in cornmeal before rolling it into the pans. Next time I might try mixing the cornmeal into the dough to see what happens.

Baking time (duration): 30-40 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 12

Meal type: dinner

My rating: 4 stars:  ★★★★☆ 1 review(s)

Additional Resources

Looking to plan your own Chicago weekend getaway? Here are a few ideas for things to do and places to eat from our trip.

Things to Do:
Second City entrance

  • Second City: For an evening of laughs, head to Second City. Many of the past performers from this comedy club became cast members of Saturday Night Live.
  • Happy Hour at Hancock Tower: Enjoy a cocktail at sunset overlooking the city from the observation deck of one of the oldest skyscrapers in the city.
  • Chicago History Museum:  Learn about Chicago’s varied history, including its infamous mobsters, the great fire of the late 1800s and much more.
  • Chicago Cultural Center: Located in downtown Chicago, this building features beautiful architecture along with a variety of art exhibits and performances.

Places to Eat:
Carmines restaurant

  • Carmines: A classy Italian restaurant with a fabulous pasta selection, including homemade cavatelli and tortellini with lots of cheese!
  • Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House: This place has the best crab cakes I have ever had with huge portions of large lump crab. They also serve frog legs, but I can’t tell you about those. I just couldn’t bring myself to try them.
  • Original Pancake House: The “original” pancake house is really in Portland. This one in Chicago is famous for its apple pancake.
  • Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria: It wouldn’t be a trip to Chicago without having a classic Chicago deep-dish pizza at one of Lou’s several locations around the city.

Where is your favorite pizza place?

2 Comments
  1. This looks divine! The last time I was in Chicago we went to a local pizzeria and it was one of the best I have ever had. Just wish I remembered what the place was called.

    • Was it Giordanos maybe? That’s another Chicago pizza place I have been told is good too. I haven’t tried it though. I always end up at Lou’s instead whenever I am in Chicago.

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