Making Pizza, A Do-Over

I know, after the last time we tried to make pizza I said I wouldn’t try again. Things change, though; more specifically, I got a cast iron pan (I picked the one recommended by America’s Test Kitchen, if you care). As I mentioned previously, the crust is the hardest thing to get right at home, mostly because a normal oven doesn’t get nearly hot enough to cook it correctly. After much thought and research, I decided to pre-heat the cast iron pan, drop the dough on top of it, assemble the ingredients, and cook it in the oven on it’s highest heat (550 in this case, since my cast iron pan doesn’t fit under my broiler).

For the dough I used Jacques Pepin’s no-knead bread recipe, which I had prepped the night before and left in the refrigerator overnight to rise. Before the pan heated I spread the dough out in a vaguely round-ish shape by hand until it fit in the bottom of the pan. I removed the dough from the pan and put the pan in the oven. After the pan had heated for twenty minutes at 500 degrees, I pulled it out of the oven and dropped the dough into it. It fell a little lopsided, and the pan was so hot it sizzled. I left the dough as it had fallen, not wanting to risk either a burned finger or torn dough.

I topped it with some canned crushed tomatoes, a sprinkle of sea salt, a few scoops of ricotta (I ran our of mozzarella and forgot to buy more before making the pizza), some torn basil leaves, and a whole bunch of grated parmesan cheese. I popped it back in the oven, raised the temp to 550 degrees, and let it cook for about 10 minutes.

The result defintiely looked right. I topped it with some olive oil, some more fresh basil and grated parmesan, and then slid it out of the pan and let it cool for a couple of minutes.

The result: pretty darned good, actually. Despite the uneven lumpiness caused by the lopsided crust, the bottom was nicely crisp (though certainly not charred). The softness of the ricotta played nicely off the crunchiness of the crust, and the canned crushed tomatoes worked better than any “sauce” I’ve tried to concoct. I’ll be working on different variations of this method, with slightly tweaked ingredients, but for now I’m digging this cast iron pan thing. I can’t say it’s the prettiest thing, but the taste is what really counts.


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