Friday, April 20, 2012
Cast Iron Skillet Pizza
Have you ever heard of making pizza in a cast iron skillet? We've owned a pizza stone for years, but when I saw this recipe I wanted to try it anyway. I wanted to see how a skillet held up to a stone, and how storebought pizza dough compares to homemade. Initially I waved away the idea of following the recipe by using storebought dough, but then I wondered what the quality of premade dough is like and if the convenience is worth it.
You can buy premade pizza dough in the refrigerated section of your supermarket's bakery. When I saw whole wheat dough along with plain, I decided to add another level to my experiment. Both pizzas are made the same way, with a quick sauce from scratch, fresh mozzarella, and crumbled Italian sausage. When they were done, I topped them with parsley and shavings of Parmesan.
1) Storebought dough is not as good as homemade dough, but it's not far off, and convenience counts for a lot. Dough from scratch has to be made the night before, and there are resting periods in the refrigerator and at room temperature -- the storebought dough is ready to use when you bring it home. The flavor of storebought is close to homemade, and the texture is a little doughier than homemade but not a deal-breaker. If you want to go the from-scratch route anyway, I have only praise for Peter Reinhart's dough recipe.
2) I can't say the same for the whole wheat dough. It rolled out nice and thin and didn't have the annoying elasticity of the plain dough, but I missed that elasticity and chew when eating the whole wheat crust. It also had all the flavor of cardboard.
3) The cast iron skillet works great, producing a crust with a nicely crisped bottom. If you have only a 10-inch skillet like me, a half-pound of pizza dough will work for this recipe or one pound will make two pizzas; scale down the other ingredients slightly as well. If you're fighting kitchen clutter, you may opt for just your skillet instead of buying a pizza stone.
4) The pizza recipe is delicious as well. I like the from-scratch sauce, and the small amount guarantees you won't have a soggy crust. I like the use of fresh mozzarella, and even though it releases water after cooking the taste is superior. I left out the arugula because I'm not a fan, but the parsley and Parmesan are nice.
If you've wanted to try making your own pizza, this is the easiest I've seen yet.
Sausage, Arugula, and Parsley Pizza
From Martha Stewart Living Magazine March 2012 Issue
6 ounces sweet Italian sausage
1 tbs plus 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
¾ pound storebought pizza dough
3 whole peeled tomatoes from a can, crushed
1 tbs tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
Garnish: flat-leaf parsley leaves and arugula, tossed with olive oil and vinegar, plus Parmesan shavings
Preheat oven to 500° (or as high as it will go). Remove sausage from casings. Saute over high heat until just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Break into bite-size pieces.
Brush a 12-inch cast-iron skillet with 1 teaspoon oil. Press dough flat in the skillet, spreading to edge.
Combine tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, 1 tablespoon oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and red pepper. Spread over dough.
Cook over medium-high heat until bottom is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to oven; bake 3 minutes. Scatter mozzarella and sausage on top; continue baking until edge of crust is golden brown, about 8 minutes. Garnish with parsley, arugula, and Parmesan.