Tuesday, June 5, 2012

On The Menu: Cast Iron Skillet Pizza

Lovely Instagram photo of my homemade cast iron skillet pizza on our fancy paper plates.
So, I realize I've been a bad blogger recently. But I had a newborn, can you blame me? I didn't realize there wouldn't be time for well...anything really other than feeding, changing, getting baby down for a nap, rinse repeat. But we're back in the swing of things and starting to get a little bit of a routine, so I figure I should return to blogging - especially delicious recipes!

I got a cast iron skillet for Christmas, and this recipe is my favorite way to use it - pizza! I got the original idea and the dough recipe here: Macheesmo. You can see step-by-step photos at that site. My hands are always way too messy to stop and take photos of the process. It's important to have a well-seasoned skillet for this so your pizza doesn't stick when you try and slide it out of the skillet. The one I got is a 10" Lodge brand pre-seasoned skillet from Target and it works perfectly. We used the extra dough to make a mini pizza in a 5" skillet.

It's kind of an involved recipe and takes a lot of preparation, but it's SO worth it! I honestly think it's better than restaurant or delivery pizza. We've made this about three times at home, each time getting a little better at it. I would recommend making the dough the day before you want to use it, or at least starting the morning of if you have time. I haven't tried freezing the dough, but that's another option as well.

Dough Ingredients:
• 3/4 tsp active dry yeast
• 2 tsp salt
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• about a cup of warm water (or slightly under - a full cup makes the dough too wet for me)
• 2 1/2 cups bread flour
• Olive oil

1. Mix together your warm water (not too hot or you will kill the yeast), active dry yeast, salt and sugar with a little whisk or fork until everything is dissolved. Let sit for about 5 min until the surface starts to look a little foamy (like..forgive the expression...bathwater).
2. Slowly stir in your bread flour until everything is incorporated. At this point I like to put a little bread flour down on my countertop and start kneading the dough. Use a hand dipped in warm water to get the flour out of the bowl so it doesn't stick to your hands. If your dough seems way too dry as you're kneading it, you can add a tablespoon or two of water. If it's much too wet, add a tablespoon or so of bread flour until you get a good consistency.
3. Knead for about 8 minutes or so. Dough should be very soft and pliable. Gather dough into a ball, rub all over with olive oil and wrap in plastic. Put dough in fridge and let sit for at least two hours.
4. Take your dough out of the fridge at least an hour before you want to use it (two hours is better - you see why I recommend making the dough the night before?)

Sauce Ingredients:
• One 14.5oz can of tomato sauce (we use Hyvee Brand because we're fancy like that)
• 1 tablespoon dried parsely
• 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
• 1 tsp onion powder
• 1 tsp garlic salt
• 1 tsp dried basil
• 1 tsp dried oregano
• 1/2 tsp black pepper
• red pepper flakes to taste

1. This is pretty easy - mix all that stuff together and taste. This is a recipe that you can tweak and add and subtract from the spices to your liking. It's all a matter of experimenting. Start with just a few spices and slowly add and taste and adjust. The above combo is what works for us, but feel free to experiment on your own! It will probably turn out pretty good no matter what.

• grated mozzarella cheese
• sliced mushrooms
• browned italian sausage
• pepperoni

1. Obviously you can use whatever toppings you like, but we like the combo of sausage, mushroom, and pepperoni the best for us. My husband isn't the biggest mushroom fan, so we only put them on my side of the pizza. Feel free to add scallions, peppers, onions, hamburger, etc!
2. I love fresh mozzarella, but I've found it has too high of a water content for us and will make our dough soggy, so we use the pre-grated, bagged mozzarella.
3. There is some debate as to whether or not to cook the mushrooms before you use them because of their water content as well, but we just place them on top of the cheese and it works out fine.

Put it all together:

1. Preheat your oven to 450° F
2. After letting your dough sit, spread some flour on your work surface and some on your rolling pin and roll out your dough to about 1/4" thick. You could try and place the rolled dough in the pan and cut from there, but we're not coordinated enough for that. So we flip the pan upside down on top of the dough and cut about an inch from the edge of the pan. See my lovely diagram below:

2. Now place your cut dough into the skillet and roll down the edges to form a crust.
3. Add your sauce. Make sure you add plenty, because we didn't the first time we made this and it was a little dry.
4. Add a good layer of mozzarella.
5. Add your toppings.
6. Top off with more mozzarella.
7. To get the dough slightly crispy on the bottom, head the skillet on your stovetop for about 3 minutes on medium-high to high. Then transfer to the oven to cook for about 15 minutes. These directions are for an electric range, so you might need to adjust for a gas stovetop. It's important not to spray your skillet with anything like Pam because it may cause the bottom of your crust to burn. Thus the importance of a well seasoned skillet.
8. Let pizza rest for a few minutes before trying to slide the pizza out of the skillet. It will be VERY hot!
9. Now eat that delicious meal you worked so hard for!

*Note that cooking times are for a 10" pizza. The smaller pizza doesn't take quite as long and if you have a bigger skillet you should add a few minutes to the baking time as well.

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