People the world over have a love affair with pizza. Whether it's a thin crust sporting tomato, basil, and mozzarella or a Chicago-style deep dish that blends pizza with casserole, we love digging into this casual comfort food. It's our go-to when celebrating a successful move or kicking back on a Friday night to welcome the weekend. And, if you're at my house, I add an element of sentimentality by incorporating my mother's cast iron skillet into the process.
While certainly not a thin crust, this pan pizza (or cast iron pizza, as I like to call it) is definitely not the behemoth that Chicago-style pizza is. The crust is thick, but crisp and the toppings are definitely toppings and not yet fillings. And, if you have access to a good source of pizza dough (note: my source is my bread maker on the dough setting), it's the kind of meal that is super easy and flexible.
When I make my dough, I like to use a 2 pound pizza dough recipe with the occasional tweak (e.g. add a bit of granulated garlic, Italian seasoning, red pepper flake, etc.). Then I split the dough into two balls. One gets used for the recipe and the other one gets coated generously in oil and popped into a freezer bag. The next time I'm hankering for a pan pizza, I move the dough to the refrigerator a day early and can just bring it to room temperature before I'm ready to make another pizza!
Now, I'm sure you've already figured this out, but the toppings in this recipe just happen to be what I was craving. You can make the toppings suit your tastes, pantry, or garden offerings. In fact, if you have more than one skillet (or can convince your friends to bring over theirs), you can have one heck of a pizza party without a lot of fuss! Oh - and with Memorial Day just around the corner, I suppose I should mention that a cast iron pizza can be made on your grill too! If you happen to have a lid for your pan, it's beyond easy, but even if you don't ... just watch it a bit more carefully and get your medium heat grill to be your outdoor oven. Enjoy!
- 1 round of pizza dough (this can be store-bought or homemade - I made mine in my bread machine)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 Italian sausage links, casings removed
- 8 oz. mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- Seasoning adjustments - garlic powder, salt, pepper, red pepper flake, Italian seasoning, etc.
- 1 ½ cups shredded cheese - mozzarella is king, but I rather love a good sharp white cheddar
Make sure your pizza dough is at room temperature or slightly warm. Preheat the oven to 550°F. You can preheat later, but bear in mind that it takes a bit of time for most ovens to reach that temperature.
Pour the olive oil into a cast iron skillet. Rotate the skillet to fully cover the bottom of the skillet. Place the round of pizza dough in the pan and press lightly to cover the bottom of the skillet; cover with plastic wrap while you prepare the toppings.
Brown the sausage in a nonstick skillet. When the sausage is nearly browned, add the mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms are cooked through and the sausage is fully browned. Add the tomato sauce, stir, and taste the mixture. Adjust seasonings and remove from the heat.
Remove the plastic wrap from the cast iron skillet and, using your fingers, gently press into the dough to make little divots in the dough and extend the dough at least 1 ½ inches up the side of the skillet. Add the sausage and mushroom topping to the top of the crust and generously sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the crust and toppings.
Bake the pizza in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until the crust is crisp and the cheese is perfectly melted. If you find that the bottom of the pizza is not crisp enough, you can put the hot skillet (use oven mitts!) on a stovetop burner over medium heat to crisp it a bit more. A few minutes ought to do it. Allow the pizza to cool another 10-15 minutes before slicing into 8 slices.
- Yields: 4 servings
- Preparation Time: 45 minutes plus dough-making time if making from scratch