I’ve never been to Detroit, so I guess I’ve never tasted an authentic Detroit-style pizza. The closest I’ve come is Brown Dog Pizza in Telluride, Colorado; they have a “Detroit-style” pizza there, and if it’s anything like the real thing, then I’m a fan. With this recipe, my goal is not to replicate Brown Dog’s Detroit-style pizza, but rather to incorporate some of its best elements into my own pizza.
While I understand that Detroit-style pizza is traditionally baked in industrial steel trays, I prefer to make pan pizza in half sheet pans as they are just deep enough to give the crust a chewy and soft interior, but not so deep as to become bready. I’ve also used my half sheet pans enough that they are now perpetually seasoned, which isn’t necessary but is really nice. But to be honest, the real reason I don’t use an industrial tray is because I already have so many specialty pans, and so I’m unlikely to add another one unless it feels truly necessary.
A very important element of this recipe is the cheese. Detroit-style pizzas rely on Brick Cheese for flavor, using so much that it spills over the edges of the crust and onto the pan itself, resulting in a crackly and textured crust. Additionally, the sauce tops the cheese rather than vice versa. Brick cheese isn’t available around here, but a combination of sharp white cheddar, whole milk mozzarella (not the fresh kind), and Parmigiano-Reggiano gives the perfect balance of flavor and meltability. When the sauce tops the cheese, a lot more cheese is necessary so that the sauce doesn’t overwhelm the cheese. As much as I love Brown Dog pizza, it is so filling that I can’t eat more than a slice without going into a cheese coma. My solution is to conserve cheese by adding it directly to the pan’s edges, with another lighter layer on top of the sauce. Using butter to grease the pan helps the shredded cheese stick, while also aiding in the browning processes of both the cheese and the crust. Read more.