Skip delivery and make pizza at home — in a skillet

  • Making truly great pizza — in this case, a margherita pizza — is a breeze in a skillet. Associated Press Photo

Published: 3/5/2019 3:05:12 PM

Making pizza at home is gratifying, and it almost always tastes better than what you can get from delivery. But achieving a pizza with a crisp crust in the home oven can also be a real challenge.

You need to stretch the dough carefully, preheat a heavy baking stone, and then swiftly slide the topped dough round into a hot oven, making sure the pizza maintains its shape.

In searching for a foolproof method for cooking pizza whenever the mood struck, we found that making truly great pizza is a breeze in a skillet. Our dough came together quickly in the food processor; after we let it rise, we rolled it thin and then transferred it to a cool oiled skillet, where we topped it with a fast no-cook sauce and slices of fresh mozzarella cheese.

We placed the skillet over a hot burner to get it good and hot, and to set the bottom of the crust. Once the crust began to brown, we simply slid the skillet into a 500-degree oven. In the oven, the hot skillet functioned like a pizza stone, crisping up our crust in just minutes and melting the cheese.

We’ve featured a margherita pizza topping, adorning the sauce and cheese with just a sprinkle of basil. But if you’d like a more substantial topping for your pizza, feel free to sprinkle pepperoni, sauteed mushrooms or browned sausage over the cheese before baking; just be sure to keep the toppings light or they may weigh down the thin crust and make it soggy.

The sauce will yield more than is needed in the recipe; extra sauce can be refrigerated for up to one week or frozen for up to one month.

Skillet Pizza

Dough ingredients:

2 cups (11 oz.) plus 2 T bread flour

1 tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast

¾ tsp. salt

1 T extra-virgin olive oil

¾ cup (6 oz.) ice water

Sauce ingredients and toppings:

1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained with juice reserved

5 T extra-virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. red wine vinegar

1 tsp. dried oregano

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced ¼-inch thick and patted dry with paper towels

2 T chopped fresh basil

For the dough: Pulse the flour, yeast and salt in a food processor until it’s combined (about five pulses). With the processor running, add oil, then water, and process the dough until a rough ball forms (30 to 40 seconds). Let the dough rest for two minutes, then process it for 30 seconds longer.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured counter and knead it by hand to form a smooth, round ball (about 30 seconds). Place the dough seam side down in a lightly greased large bowl or container, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise until it has doubled in size (one-and-a-half to two hours). (Unrisen dough can be refrigerated for at least eight hours or up to 16 hours; let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before shaping.)

For the sauce and toppings: Process the tomatoes, one tablespoon of oil, garlic, vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper in a clean, dry workbowl until it’s smooth (about 30 seconds). Transfer the mixture to a two-cup liquid measuring cup and add the reserved tomato juice until the sauce measures two cups. Reserve one cup of sauce; set aside the remaining sauce for another use.

Adjust the oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 500 degrees. Grease a 12-inch oven-safe skillet with two tablespoons of oil.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured counter, divide it in half and cover it loosely with greased plastic. Press and roll one piece of dough (keep the remaining piece covered) into an 11-inch round of even thickness.

Transfer the dough to the prepared skillet and reshape it as needed. Spread half a cup of sauce over the dough, leaving ½-inch border around the edge. Top with half of the mozzarella.

Set the skillet over high heat and cook it until the outside edge of the dough is set, the pizza is lightly puffed, and the bottom of the crust looks spotty brown when gently lifted with a spatula (about three minutes).

Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake the pizza until the edges are brown and the cheese is melted and spotty brown (seven to 10 minutes). Using potholders, remove the skillet from the oven and slide the pizza onto a wire rack; let it cool slightly. Sprinkle with one tablespoon of basil, cut into wedges, and serve. Being careful of the hot skillet, repeat the steps with the remaining oil, dough, half a cup of sauce, mozzarella and basil.

Makes two 11-inch pizzas or roughly eight servings.

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