I’ve prepared a countless number of pan pizzas over the years; however, recently I decided to test a new method of making pizza. Heating a cast iron skillet on the stove top provides the high heat needed to achieve a brick oven-like crust (without the brick oven!). The finished pizza has a crispy, slightly charred crust. Topped with seasoned tomato sauce and melty mozzarella cheese, this might just be the perfect homemade pizza! Continue reading for the recipe.
Since the cooking time for these Skillet Pizzas is mere minutes, they are ideal for serving as an appetizer or entree at a dinner party*. Slice one of these pizzas into bite sized pieces and serve as an appetizer. If you want to serve as an entree, try preparing a toppings bar and let your guests top their own pizza. Engaging your guests in the dinner making process is a great way to create a memorable and enjoyable experience.
Please note that I did not include specific measurements for the pizza ingredients. I find my pizzas turn out better when I am not worrying about measurements. Simply add ingredients to taste (a sprinkling of this or a drizzle of that). Get creative and have fun!
Process adapted from The Atlantic.
1 ball of pizza dough**
Extra virgin olive oil
Organic tomato sauce (I use canned S & W organic tomato sauce)
Whole milk or part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
1 hour before you are planning on cooking your pizza, lightly coat a ball of dough with extra virgin olive oil in a bowl and set aside.
Meanwhile, prepare the remaining ingredients. Open your can of tomato sauce, grate the cheese and line up your spices. This pizza cooking process is very rapid, so it helps to have everything prepared in advance.
Place an oven rack as close as possible to your broiler. Try sliding in your cast iron skillet to make sure you have enough space. You want your skillet to be as close to the broiler as possible, but you will still need a little room to maneuver the pan.
Turn the broiler on high and preheat a dry, ungreased cast iron skillet on the stove top on the highest setting for 10 minutes. Once you begin heating the skillet, lightly flour a wood cutting board or pizza peel (no plastic cutting boards!!).
With about four minutes of skillet heating remaining, begin putting your pizza together. Stretch the dough into a disk approximate the size of your cast iron skillet (or a little smaller). The disk should be thinner in the middle and slightly thicker around the edges. Lay the disk on the floured cutting board. Lightly sauce your dough and sprinkle on a thin layer of shredded mozzarella. Season with oregano, salt and freshly ground pepper. Lightly dust the top with grated Parmesan cheese and finish with a thin drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
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. Do not try to fix the pizza once it hits the skillet. Just keep going. Your pizza might look a little gnarly, but it will still taste delicious.
As soon as your pizza is in the skillet, immediately transfer the skillet to the preheated broiler. Close the oven door quickly. After 45 seconds, rotate the skillet 180 degrees. After a minute and a half, check your pizza. You will know it is done when the crust looks lightly charred. Transfer pizza to a cutting board or plate and let cool slightly. Top with torn basil leaves, slice and enjoy!***
Makes 1 pizza.
* If you are planning on serving a Skillet Pizza at a party, I would recommend doing a few practice runs to make sure you are comfortable with the process.
** You can certainly make your own pizza dough, but I have found that it is just easier (and usually tastier) to purchase a ball of dough. Check your local pizzerias. They will often sell you a ball of dough for cheap ($1 to $2). Whole Foods also carries a delicious pizza dough.
*** If you don’t have fresh basil, you can used dried. Simply sprinkle dried basil on top when you are adding the other seasonings (oregano, salt and pepper).