Saturday, November 12, 2016

Sicilian-style cast iron skillet pizza

I haven't prepared skillet pizza in over four years for 'Round the Chuckbox. In February 2012, I baked a pizza in a 17-inch cast iron skillet when my baking stone "bit the dust." Three month later, when the home oven quit working, I baked a take 'n bake pizza in an inverted 14-inch Dutch oven. I felt it was time to feature another cast iron pizza.

After testing a recipe from the Serious Eats website two weeks ago, cast iron skillet pizza sounded good. I wanted a recipe that I can use at my summer job and when camping. This recipe will serve both purposes. It can either be baked in a half-sized (13x18-inch) sheet pan or in two large cast iron skillets (10- to 12-inch diameter).

The camp edition of the pizza can be baked with charcoal briquettes or inside the home oven. While this recipe uses a stand mixer (I use a Kitchen Aid 5-quart mixer), the Serious Eats website has instructions for hand-mixing the dough. You can use an inverted Dutch oven as well. I will post hand-mixing instructions when I get a chance.

The full-sized (18x26-inch) sheet pan will be used for the camp. It takes six to eight sheet pan pizzas for each 100 campers. Pizza is often pared with honey barbecued chicken wings, pasta salad and a loaded salad bar. We typically feature cheese pizza, pepperoni pizza, vegan pizza and a meat-lover's pizza.

I proofed the dough on the picnic table on the patio. The skillet in the foreground in a Lodge No. 12. The other one is a Wagner 1891. My wife and I purchased the Wagner in the early 1980s when we were first married.
The pizza is ready for toppings. Each skillet pizza needs 1/4- to 1/2-cup sauce, 3 to 4 ounces shredded cheese and 2 to 4 ounces meat (if used). I added a bunch of sauteed spinach to both pizzas. Four ounces sliced chicken sausage with feta and spinach was used on the larger pizza.
You have to pile the charcoal briquettes to achieve a close approximation of 550 degrees F. Lighting 10 extra briquettes will give you extra heat should you need it.
Finished pizzas. The crust could've been a bit more crisp. The smaller pizza is vegetarian.
Sheet pan pizza prepared from the same recipe. I will use this recipe to bake pizza in full-sized (18x26-inch) sheet pans for Oakland Feather River Camp, where I am the executive chef. Four sheet pans yield 96 slices.

This recipe requires two large cast iron skillets, 10- to 13-inches in diameter. Match each skillet to the rimmed Dutch oven lid (or camp-style Dutch oven) that fits best. The 12-inch lid will fit the smaller skillet while the larger skillets will require the 14-inch lid.

To bake in a rimmed 13x18-inch half-sized sheet pan, pour remaining oil (in second paragraph of instructions) into a half sheet pan. Place dough on sheet pan and let rise as directed. About 30 minutes before baking, preheat home oven to 550 degrees with rack in the middle position. Proceed to stretch dough to the sides and corners of the pan, as directed. Double toppings and bake 15 to 20.

This recipe was adapted from the website.

17-1/2 ounces bread or all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
12-1/4 ounces room temperature water

Combine flour, salt, yeast and 2 tablespoons oil in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk to combine. Add water and mix on medium speed until it comes together and no dry flour remains. Increase speed to medium-high and mix until the dough is stretchy and smooth, about 6 minutes. The dough should stick to the bottom of the bowl but pull away from the sides.

Divide oil between 2 cast iron skillets and spread over surface with hands. Divide dough in half and place one piece in each. (Add slightly more dough to the larger skillet when using mismatched pans.) Rub top surface with oil until thoroughly coated. Cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise at room temperature until dough has spread out to nearly touch each rim of each skillet, about 2 hours.

Carefully remove plastic wrap. Using oiled hands and being as gentle as possible to maintain air bubbles, push and stretch dough into corners of each skillet by pressing out from the center and lifting and stretching it beyond the rim of each skillet. The dough should pull back until the skillet is just filled with dough.

Light 45 to 60 charcoal briquettes in a charcoal chimney about 30 minutes before the dough is ready. One lid is needed since you will bake the pizzas one at a time. For 550 degrees, use around 45 briquettes (30 on lid and 15 under skillet) on the 12-in camp-style Dutch oven lid. The 14-inch lid requires around 60 briquettes (40 on lid and 20 under skillet).

Top each pizza with about 1/3- to 1/2-cup sauce, 3 to 4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese, plus additional toppings as desired. Place the first skillet on trivet. Place the lid from a Dutch oven on top of the skillet. Bake with charcoal briquettes for 550 degrees until bottom is crisp and top surface is bubbling, 15 to 30 minutes. Repeat for second skillet. Allow to cool at room temperature for 5 minutes. Slice as desired.

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