Friday, 10 February 2012

Pizza in a Skillet

I like trying new things. I had a pizza dough left from making a pizza, so I thought about making a mini-pizza. But I wanted to change things up a big. I thought about cooking my pizza in a cast-iron skillet. So I went for it.

Why cast iron? Normally I just use a pan and the crust works out well. But I wanted more of a pizzeria flare - because those pizza's are cooked at extremely high heat, and generally that can't be produced in a home kitchen. But using the pan, you can heat it up, then bake in the oven.

I had some conceptual ideas about how I was going to go about doing this. Then I decided that I'm not really a pioneer, so let me see what other people have done and go from there. I checked out a number of sites, but mainly referenced Kitchen Konfidence. Their advice would come to haunt me during the process: "Slide the pizza into the skillet.  This is the trickiest part of the recipe.  I would recommend using a floured spatula or have someone else help you hold the cutting board.  Practice is the key to getting this down.  Most likely, your first attempt will not be perfect." How true, how true.


Step 1: Some EVOO and garlic in the dough that sat and absorbed into each other. Also, flowering of my space to stretch the dough later. Also, I would start prep of your toppings - mine were already done in advance.

Step 2: My cast iron pan is on the heating element and the oven is turned on to broil (it was already on due to me cooking another pizza for another purpose).

Step 3: Dough has been rolled out, sauce applied (mine is pizza sauce and hot sauce mixed) and then some garlic powder. Then a layer of cheese (marble). Then pepperoni, some onion, some spicy havarti, pineapple, and taco beef. This was going to be awesome, but let me tell you, this pizza should have been much leaner on the toppings. Let's find out why.

Step 4: The skillet is hot by now. Transfer the pizza to the hot skillet.

What I did was add some cornmeal to the pan because that's what I normally do with my pizza to give it some texture. But as I rush around, the cornmeal immediately burns on the super hot pan. So I have to quickly wipe it out. Forget cornmeal.

Then I try to move the pizza. No deal. In fact several toppings drop into the pan and sizzle. I remove them and try again. This is not working. So I fold the pizza like a taco and try and carry it - this is problematic because I have loaded it with toppings. It goes in, I put it in the oven - whoops, forgot the oven mitt this time because I'm rushing,  and now my hand is in pain (but I didn't burn myself). But, the pizza is in.

Problem (a new one). I leave it for a few minutes, but not long, because I don't want it to burn. I go back - it's ok but not broiling. I leave it for longer. Come back - still not broiling. A little longer, same thing. So I didn't get the super hot heat from the top, but oh well.

The pizza from the oven. All the topping migrated to the middle during the taco-carrying process.

I used more dough than I expected too too. So it puffed up. The bottom crust (which stuck to the pan a bit) was nice and crispy, and the inside soft and fluffy - a little more thick than I would normally like, but it worked.

I carved it up with my pizza sissors (ya, special scissors for cutting pizza - they are awesome - and a gift from my Grandma several years ago - thanks!).

The pizza was really good. Good crust, good toppings. I can't wait to do it again, but with less dough and less toppings. And maybe someone to help me transfer the pizza. I don't know if i want to do this with my full sized cast-iron pan - I think the small is just right.

So a recap of what I learned:

  • Use less dough
  • Use small skillet
  • Always use oven mitt when touching hot hot skillet
  • Use less toppings
  • Have a better strategy to transfer dough
  • Make sure oven broiler is working
I think that's it.

Have you made a cast-iron skillet pizza? How did yours turn out?


Chris said...

We have not done a cast iron skillet but something close. We used a large stoneware deep pie dish that was preheated on the grill.

For that one, it was preheated on the grill. Alexis put the dough in and THEN we quickly put the sauce, cheese, and toppings on. That worked rather well.

Lord of the Wings said...

@Chris - I so envy you and that GBE. If I had a helper I would totally do it that way - but I tried a second one this weekend and found the key was keeping the pizza simple . . .