While meandering the internets recently, I found several references to an odd but intriguing method of making pizza. The pizza is started on the stovetop using a very hot cast iron griddle or inverted skillet and then the whole thing is whisked to the broiler to finish cooking. It seemed worth trying so I gave it a whirl last night. Except for a few minor adjustments, I think it works! Read on for the full story and recipe.
You Will Need:
A cast iron pizza pan or large skillet that fits in your broiler
Your favorite pizza dough
Assorted toppings. I used roasted asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, garlic and olive oil for the pizza, and finished it with prosciutto and a light arugula salad on top
A friend who likes to help in the kitchen
It's important that you have all your toppings prepped and ready at the stove for this recipe. So earlier in the day I tossed 6 fat spears of asparagus in olive oil and salt and roasted them in a 425 degree oven for about 12-15 minutes or until they were starting to char but were still pretty firm. I drained 8 oz of small fresh mozzarella balls, even giving them a light squeeze to remove more water. A handful of fresh shiitake mushrooms were stemmed and torn into large chunks. I microplaned a clove of garlic into a decent glug of olive oil and tossed in the mushrooms with a pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper. I cleaned and dried a few handfuls of wild arugula and tore several slices of prosciutto into chunks.
I started with the NYT pizza dough recipe from last week, which I made using my stash of '00' Italian pizza flour. I used half of the dough, leaving the other half in the refrigerator for later this week. The dough turned out really wet--so wet that I couldn't roll it out. Using a well-floured surface, I patted and stretched it into a rough, rustic shape. Meanwhile, I had a cast iron pizza pan heating on the stove top over a high flame and the broiler fired up and ready to go.
The dough went on to the hot pan and we immediately started adding toppings. It was a good thing my friend Mimi had joined me because from this point on, all four hands were needed! First Mimi drizzled on some olive oil and I scattered the asparagus, which we had cut into thirds. We quickly added the shiitake followed by the mozzarella, which we tore into smaller chunks as we went along.
The dough was starting to char on the bottom, which freaked me out a little so I turned off the stove flame. This was a mistake, but only a minor one, as we felt in the end the crust was a little underdone. But just a little. Next time I will monitor the heat by lowering the flame and giving the crust a little longer on the stove top.
We moved the pan to the broiler and discovered--oh no!--that the pan didn't fit on the bottom of the broiler pan. It seemed a little scary because it brought the pizza up mighty close to the flame, but we managed to balance the pan on the top of the broiler pan and get most of the pie inside. We switched it after about 90 seconds to be sure the other end was cooked. The pizza took on a nice char and after about 4 minutes total, we removed it from the broiler.
Mimi quickly dressed the arugula in a little olive oil and some salt. After cutting the pizza into 8 pieces, we draped the silky pieces of prosciutto all over and topped the whole thing off with a few handfuls of the dressed arugula.
We agreed that it was a really delicious pizza. The flavors of the asparagus and garlicky shiitake burst in our mouths and the salty prosciutto and spicy arugula balanced things nicely. I would have liked the crust to be a little crisper. I'm sure that playing with the heat on the stove top will accomplish this. But the crust did have those pizza oven-like bits of char and big bubbles, which is hard to achieve in a regular oven.
This is a really fun way to make a pizza and I highly recommend you give it a try. Just be sure that your pan fits in your broiler!
Bonus: Jill Santopietro's Kitchen 4B (formally Tiny Kitchen) video in which she makes the same pizza dough but ends up with a much stiffer dough.
(Image: Dana Velden)