Kitchn Love Letters

I Love This Deep-Dish Pizza So Much I Even Made It for Thanksgiving

published Nov 12, 2019
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Imagine receiving a deep-dish pizza pan and bootleg recipe for Chicago-style Giordano’s pizza as a wedding gift. Twenty-eight years ago, we did, and it’s been the most cherished of all our wedding gifts. We’ve amassed dozens of memories, hosted countless guests for dinner parties, and have made it the centerpiece of book-club dinners and high school friend reunions. We made it the night before our youngest left for college, at his request.

But one of the most memorable pizza parties was the time we skipped the turkey and served deep-dish pizza for Thanksgiving. It was such a rare and unexpected Thanksgiving day that our guests still talk about it. 

Make no mistake about it: Deep-dish pizza is an experience from beginning to end, and that’s why it’s a perfect fit for Thanksgiving. Here’s how I make a pizza party memorable.

It’s more than pizza, it’s an experience.

To be sure, making and serving deep-dish pizza is about much more than the end result. You might relish swinging open the door of an oven cranked to inferno temperatures and revealing an enormous deep-dish pizza. And guests will hopefully ooh and aah, their mouths watering waiting to try it. But appreciating the beauty of this meal requires respect for the process. The journey to the long-awaited arrival of the pizza, bubbly with cheese and tickling everyone’s noses with delicious smells, is essential

Just like with any big main dish, we plan a couple of days in advance. The day before, I like to make the sauce, giving it plenty of time to simmer and then cooling it down in the fridge so it has time to marinate.

Then early the day of our party, I start the dough so it has time to rise. I combine yeast and sugar in warm water before adding the flour, melted butter, and salt. By the time guests arrive the dough has typically doubled in size, and I’ve got cheese (two pounds total!) and other ingredients such as crumbled Italian sausage and/or spinach, sitting neatly in bowls nearby, ready to go.

The assembly is part of the event.

My favorite part of making this pizza is corralling guests to participate in the assembly. It starts with a bulging lump of dough presented on a lightly floured surface. If someone wants to get in on the action and do the rolling, I leap at the chance to step back. Skin in the game, after all, creates a sense of ownership and pride in the end result. Then we break out our wedding-present pan, and line it with the dough.

Once the dough has lined the pizza pan, I rally guests to help layer the various toppings and cheese. Then we roll out the remaining bit of dough, neatly cover the top, and pinch the bottom and top crusts together. 

Finally, it’s sauce time. After poking holes in the top crust I pick a volunteer to scoop the sauce onto the top of the pizza, spreading with the back of a spoon. We cover the crusts with strips of foil to make sure it doesn’t burn, and put the masterpiece into the oven (preheated to 500°F), for about 30 minutes or so. 

Food is fellowship.

When the pizza emerges, our friends are amazed — and salivating. There’s something magical about the anticipation. This relatively humble deep-dish pizza recipe has affected so many of our relationships, enabling us to creatively shower love on family and friends. Food is love, after all. Making deep-dish pizza together can deepen bonds, pull people together, and mark a gathering as something special. Which is what Thanksgiving is for, after all.