Friday, February 17, 2017

Crust-less Deep Dish Pizza

I am without a doubt a pizza guy. In fact, I am not to particular, I like just about every kind of pizza, but one of my favorites is Chicago style deep dish pizza. Being on a Ketogenic (Keto) diet does present some challenges when it comes to making a good pie. There are some good cauliflower, and fat head pizza dough recipes and I have made both, but my favorite is a meat crust pizza that I was inspired to make after reading a blog post from one of Chicago's legendary pizzeria's 'Lou Malnati's'. The article mentioned a new offering of a 'crust-less' pizza for gluten intolerant customers.

In this case the crust was made by a layer of their “lean sausage as the base, then topped with out fresh mozzarellas cheese and zesty tomato sauce.” So I thought, this could be the perfect low carbohydrate high fat (LCHF) Keto pizza. Now I do not know what they mean by the term “lean” sausage, but I decided to make the base of my crust-less pizza with a mild Italian sausage and build of from there. The final outcome I believe is my favorite keto style pizza yet. Having said that, it is pretty high in fat, so it is not something you want to eat everyday.

The Recipe

As pizzas go, this recipe is pretty simple if you are using store bought Italian sausage, just keep in mind that commercially prepared sausage may have some carbohydrates from sugar, especially if you are using a sweet mild sausage. Generally you can find Italian sausage in most supermarkets in both bulk 1lb packages or as links. If all your supermarket carries is the links, then simply split the casings and add the sausage to your deep dish pan as if it was bulk processed.

16 ounces Italian sausage, mild or hot
12 slices provolone cheese
2 (1.75 ounces) packages of pepperoni
1 ½ cups mozzarella, shredded
½ cup pizza sauce (see below)

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.

Take your 12-inch deep dish pizza pan and with your hands, press and spread the Italian sausage across the bottom of the pan until you have an even layer of sausage which will be the basis of your crust.

Next, add the pizza sauce and spread evenly over the sausage layer.

Then add the sliced provolone cheese.

Add the pepperoni or other desired toppings.

Add the final cheese layer and place in your pre-heated oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Crust-less Pizza (Total 8 slices)
Calories – 2437, protein 138 grams, fat 198 grams, carbohydrates 20.2 grams

Crust-less Pizza Per Slice
Calories – 305, protein 17.25 grams, fat 24.75 grams, carbohydrates 2.52 grams

Pizza Hut Deep Dish Pepperoni Pizza (Total 8 slices)
Calories – 2960, protein 120 grams, fat 152 grams, carbohydrates 296 grams

Pizza Hut Deep Dish Pepperoni Pizza Per Slice
Calories – 370, protein 15 grams, fat 19 grams, carbohydrates 37 grams

The Sauce

A pizza is only as good as it's sauce. Typically, Malnati's uses crushed tomatoes seasoned with Italian seasoning and spices in place of a traditional tomato sauce. If you choose to go this route, an easy option would be to purchase a can of small petite tomatoes diced with basil, garlic and oregano and simply crush the tomatoes by hand and place as many as you want on top of the sausage layer, or with your additional ingredients before you add the mozzarella. If your prefer a more traditional pizza sauce and you do not have any pasta or pizza sauce on hand, I have included a quick Keto recipe you can whip together.

8 ounces tomato sauce
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon fennel seed, ground (optional)

Combine all the ingredients in a plastic container and reserve until ready to use.

Pizza Sauce (1 cup)
Calories – 105.5, protein 1.4 grams, fat 0.05 grams, carbohydrates 16.55 grams

The Sausage Patty

When purchasing Johnsonville Italian sausage for your pizza keep in mind a few things. Mild sweet Italian, and the Hot variety of sausage have sugar added so it is about 3 carbohydrates per link (15 carbs per a 5 link package of 19 ounces), while the bulk varieties of mild Italian and Hot sausage are listed as having 6 carbohydrates per pound. In addition, according to the package, the individual links contain more sugar 2 grams per serving versus 1 gram per serving for the same sausage in bulk form, go figure.

So if you really want to cut down on the carbohydrates by eliminating the sugar you can make your own mild Italian sausage. Guess what it is really quick and easy to do, and you get total control of what goes into the meat. If you are going to use ground beef in place of the sausage, you may want to use a leaner beef as the pepperoni, and cheeses are already high in fat and using 73/27 ground beef generally makes the pie pretty greasy, still tastes great but I did blot off some of the oil before we ate it when I used the fattier ground beef.

1 pound ground pork, beef, or combination
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
¾ teaspoon paprika
¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon dried parsley
¼ teaspoon fennel seed, ground
1/8 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands until throughly combined and all the spices are evenly distributed throughout the sausage.

Ground Beef Sausage Patty (16 ounces 73/27)
Calories – 1314, protein 73 grams, fat 112 grams, carbohydrates 5.45 grams

Nutritional Information

The nutritional information for this recipe will vary considerably depending on the ingredients that you choose to use and whether you decide to make your own sausage or use a commercially prepared Italian sausage such as Johnsonville. Personally, I make this pizza with a homemade sausage patty made from ground beef using the spices listed in the recipe. I am listing some of the nutritional values of the items I used so that if you tweak this recipe to suit your needs you can get a general idea of the total nutritional value of the pizza.

Ground Beef Sausage (16 ounces 73/27)
Calories – 1314, protein 73 grams, fat 112 grams, carbohydrates 5.45 grams

Ground Beef Sausage (16 ounces 80/20)
Calories – 1186, protein 79 grams, fat 91 grams, carbohydrates 5.45 grams

Ground Beef Sausage (16 ounces 93/7)
Calories – 713, protein 93 grams, fat 32 grams, carbohydrates 5.45 grams

Johnsonville Mild Italian Sausage (16 ounces)
Calories – 1020 , protein 60 grams, fat 78 grams, carbohydrates 6 grams

Hormel Pepperoni (1.75oz package)
Calories – 280, protein 10 grams, fat 26 grams, carbohydrates 0 grams

Provolone Cheese (Per 19 gram slice)
Calories – 70, protein 5 grams, fat 5 grams, carbohydrates 0 grams

Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (Per Cup)
Calories – 336, protein 25 grams, fat 25 grams, carbohydrates 2 grams


Making your own deep dish crust-less pizza is pretty simple and quick to do, and the end result is quite delicious. The pie that I made for this article contained a sausage patty made from 73/27 ground beef and that is what was used to determine the nutritional information for this article. You can increase or decrease the fat and protein content by changing your choice of meat to be used for the 'meat crust' layer. When compared to a traditional Pizza Hut deep dish pepperoni pizza of the same size, the caloric, fat, and protein contents are very similar. However the Pizza Hut deep dish pizza contains 296 grams of carbohydrates for the whole pie, or 37 grams per slice. Our homemade Malnati's style crust-less pizza contains only 20.2 carbohydrates for the entire pie, and a measly 2.52 grams of carbohydrates per slice. That's 88% less carbohydrates just in case you were wondering.

So how does this recipe stack up against other keto pizza recipes? I am not sure and maybe that is another article waiting to be written, but if you have a craving for deep dish style pizza, this recipe is hard to beat. Still with it's 305 calories and 24 grams of fat per slice, it is not something that you can eat everyday and still lose weight, but if you get the craving for a great deep dish pizza, this recipe definitley satisfies. As always, I hope that you have found this article informative and beneficial for you and your family, if so please take the time to share it with your friends so that they can benefit as well. Don't forget to follow our blog, or check us out on our Facebook page 'CulinaryYouLCHF' or add us to your circle on 'Google+' to continue to receive our latest LCHF and Keto recipes.


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