Pizza, no stone required

This is probably a first for this lil’ blog here: a recipe that’s longer than the post that leads it in.

Fear not–it also takes more time to read than it does to make.

And it proves a great point: you do not need expensive specialized equipment to make restaurant-style foods at home. In particular, you don’t need a pizza stone to make terrific pizza–beautifully blistered and crackly-crisp on the bottom.

Once again, it’s cast iron to the rescue.

Skillet Pizza

Adapted, just barely, from The Atlantic

Special equipment: a 12-inch cast-iron skillet

Take a batch of pizza dough–storebought or homemade–and portion it into balls. The bigger your balls (hee), the thicker your pizzas will be. Set the pizza balls (hee) aside on a lightly floured surface and prepare your toppings. You’ll want to have everything cut/grated/stirred/totally ready before you start pizza-ing, because this is a fast process.

Place an oven rack as close to the broiler as it will go, then turn the broiler on. Place the dry, ungreased skillet on a burner on high heat and let it preheat for 8 to 10 minutes. You want this thing shrieking hot.

Once you’ve started preheating the skillet, flour a wooden cutting board or overturned baking sheet. Pick up one of your balls of dough and hold it gently by one edge, letting gravity stretch it out. Then move your hands around the edge of the dough, shaking gently and letting it stretch until you’ve got something vaguely disk-like, that’s very thin in the middle and thicker around the edge. Once you’ve achieved stretchy pizza, lay it down on the floured board and shake it gently from side to side to make sure it doesn’t stick. This whole process should take no more than two or three minutes.

Immediately sauce your pizza and add toppings. Use a light touch, and don’t press down on the dough or you’ll make it cardboardy and glue it into the board. Just dab, then sprinkle, then adjust to your liking. Make sure to leave a little naked rim around the edge, where the dough is thicker, to make a nice bubbly crust.

Now comes the challenging part. Slide the topped pizza into the skillet, however you can manage to. I had the boyfriend lift the board up at an angle, while I gently guided the pizza down with my hands. You’ll probably get some slumping and folding and toppings sliding over the side–just put everything back in place the best you can, and don’t tell anyone.

Once the pizza is in the skillet, move it from the burner to the broiler. You want the handle of the skillet pointing straight to one side of the oven. Close the door quickly and let the pizza broil for about 45 seconds, then quickly rotate the handle so it’s facing the other side and broil until the crust starts to puff and brown and char–the broiler I used runs hot, so this took barely another 45 seconds.

Remove the skillet from the oven and check the bottom of the pizza. If it’s not quite browned to your liking, return the skillet to the stove and cook over high heat until you get the doneness you want–there should be patches all over the bottom that are chestnut-brown, dry and almost crackly. Then remove from the heat, transfer to a cutting surface, and cut in right away for that incomparable scorching-melting-stringy-gooey almost-too-hot-to-taste pizza experience. Or, you know, wait a couple minutes so you don’t take the roof of your mouth off.

Lather, rinse, repeat with your other balls of dough. Once the skillet and broiler are hot, you can churn out pizzas in no time at all.

And by the way, for the pizza in the photo, I used:

  • Whole-wheat pizza dough
  • Homemade pesto
  • Fontina cheese
  • Mushrooms
  • Black olives
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper

And it was SO GOOD.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Pizza, no stone required

  1. Veronika

    *waves to fellow insulin-resistant chefette*

    Was browsing the food tag in WP and saw the photos – your pizza looks gorgeous (I love imperfect-and-beautiful food! – and PIZZA!), and I adore baking in cast iron – have you tried baking sourdough bread in that? It turns out amazing!

    • Hey, thanks so much for reading! I haven’t tried baking bread in cast iron yet, but it’s definitely high on my list.

      • Veronika

        You should definitely try! It’s very easy and the results are like artisan bakery bread in your own kitchen. I was surprised at just how much difference it makes – and it was my own little brother who told me about it!

        And, you’re welcome! Blogging in a vacuum is no fun, and yours appears to be rather worth reading! 😀

  2. Jess Chung

    You know what else is delicious in a skillet? Jalapeno-cheddar-cornbread baked in a cast-iron skillet greased with bacon fat. (Yeah, not sure how you feel about the bacon part, but wow…)

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