If you have a cast iron skillet and like pizza, you're in for a treat.
If you don't have a skillet, buy one now.
I've made pizza on pizza stones, grills, special pizza specific pans, and plain cookie sheets. I've eaten pizza in 9 countries (including more than a few times in Italy) and I've eaten frozen pizza, so I like to think I've experienced nearly the full spectrum of pizza.
Once, I even ate a pizza with corn on it. Shameful, I know, but such is the nature of addiction.
I no longer use anything but my cast iron skillets for making pizza at home. The ability of cast iron to retain heat allows you to crisp crust like a stone pizza oven, and it's non-stick seasoned surface makes clean-up a breeze compared to a pizza stone.
There are pizza purists who never let their toppings approach the edge of the crust, because cheese and sauce can permanently stain the surface of stone. With skillet pizza, I often sprinkle cheese all the way from edge to edge so it melts down the sides and creates a crispy cheese crust.
Non traditional? Yes.
A taste and texture sensation? Also yes.
Join me in happily thumbing our noses at tradition with the MÄNNKITCHEN Dirty Skillet Pizza recipe:
Dough: (makes 3 medium/thick crust 13 inch pizzas)
tip: Make your dough the night before, or in the morning.
- 4.5 cups flour
- 2 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp active dry yeast
- 2.25 cups water
- 2 lbs mozzarella grated, (or torn if using fresh)
- 2x 14.5 oz cans stewed tomatoes, blended.
- 1 large fresh tomato
- 1 jalapeno
- 2 large white button mushrooms
- 1 bell pepper
- 1/2 red onion
- 2 lbs Italian sausage
- 6 oz Canadian Bacon
- Fresh basil leaves
- whatever else you want
Mix dry dough ingredients until just combined, then add water and mix until all dry flour is incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise/ferment 12-16 hours. Make the dough in the morning or even the night before. Letting your dough ferment improves flavor and texture. I know you want a 30 minute pizza recipe, and I have one, (called Delivery) but this one is better.
An hour before you want to eat, divide dough into 3 (or 4, if you prefer thinner crust) even balls. Dough will be wet, so flour your hands and countertop liberally (or conservatively if that's your political leaning). Press into flat discs about 7 inches in diameter, cover with plastic wrap and give it a rest. The dough, I mean.
Preheat oven to 450F.
Seed and core the Jalapeno if you want less spice, or leave intact if you hope your kids will leave you leftovers. Slice onion, tomato, peppers, and mushrooms very thin. Thinner than that.
Brown the Italian sausage in your skillet, then move meat to a bowl-leaving the skillet unwashed. Yes, leave the pan Dirty. Those few bits of sausage left behind? leave them too.
Blend your stewed tomatoes. A few pulses is enough because you want some texture in the sauce. Bring to a boil in small saucepan until reduced to desired thickness (about 5 minutes for me).
Are all your toppings ready? Is your oven preheated to 450 F? Is your skillet unwashed? Good.
Preheat skillet on medium heat while you roll out the first dough disk. You want to put your dough into a hot skillet. Not smoking, but medium hot.
When dough is rolled into a 13 inch round, transfer it to your hot skillet, then transfer your hot skillet into the preheated oven and bake the empty crust for 7 minutes.
Remove from oven and place on burner over medium heat (you want to keep the skillet hot) and quickly spread sauce, then sausage, then cheese. Arrange your toppings on top of cheese, then return to the oven on the top rack. Use this time to roll your next crust out into a round. Bake for 5 minutes, then BROIL on high until cheese bubbles and browns and the exposed edges of your very thinly sliced veggies begin to crisp. A few burnt edges is what you want. This should take 3-5 minutes. Watch it closely, as it can go from perfect to overdone in less than 30 seconds.
Remove from heat, and scrape around the edges with the best spatula for cast iron. You have one of those right? Good, because you'll also use it to help transfer your smoking hot pizza from the skillet to a large cutting board.
Peek underneath to make sure the base is browned well and crispy. If it's still pale, leave it on the stovetop over high heat for a minute or so until perfection is attained.
Scrape around the edges and underneath until the pizza is not sticking anywhere, then precariously tilt the dangerously heavy and hot skillet to an approximate 45 degree angle with one hot pad cladded hand while lifting and guiding the low edge of your pizza out of the skillet with the other. Angle it in such a way that it wants to slide out of the skillet, but not so much that the magma-hot toppings slough off onto your favorite hand.
NOTE: Kids, if you're following along, this is the best time to ask questions or develop a sudden interest in discussing topics unrelated to the task at hand with your dad. Wait until sweat is beading on his furrowed brow and he's balancing the full and screaming hot skillet with one hand, . If you're lucky, you may learn some new words.
Back to the recipe.
Apologize to your children, and drizzle the now empty but still hot skillet with olive oil. Add your next crust to the skillet and repeat the process until all pizzas are finished. We'll start eating the first one while the rest are still cooking.
Allow your kids to sprinkle the finished pizza with fresh Basil so they can say "look Mom, I made pizza!"
Hi Alexis, the secret is frequent use, scrubbing with hot water to clean (no soap), and high heat.
I have seen your iron skillets and know how much you use them but there us no rust, they are smooth and things do not stick! What are the secrets?
Thanks Keli-let me know if you try the recipe!
This is so awesome! I always knew you were a bad-ass in the kitchen, but I never knew you were such a wordsmith. Congrats on the new endeavor…can’t wait to read more!