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Hello and happy Saturday! Welcome back to Kelly’s Kitchen, I’m so happy you’re here. Last week, we walked through how to make popovers. This week, I have been thinking a lot about comfort food. We all have our favorites; whether it’s a new favorite or a classic recipe from our childhood, comfort foods transport us to a place of safety, of easier times laden with memories. Comfort foods can feel like a generous warm hug, and for this reason can be therapeutic. Often times, our favorite comfort foods are not the healthiest choice. But that’s ok, because it’s likely we aren’t eating them everyday. But every now and again, it’s ok to indulge. And this makes them even more special! So join me today and learn how to make a skillet pizza.
Pizza IS one of my most favorite foods. Along with tacos, I could eat pizza everyday and never get tired of it. That said, as I have become more conscientious about maintaining a healthy diet, pizza has become more of an occasional treat for me.
There are so many styles of pizza and I love them all! Today though, we are doing a skillet, or pan pizza. It’s similar to a Chicago style pizza: a puffy thick crust topped with cheese, then sauce.
This recipe is a two-day process because the dough needs to sit in the fridge overnight. Here’s how you do it, step by step:
Step 1: In a large bowl, add your 2 cups (240 grams) all purpose flour. To this mound add ¾ teaspoon of fine sea salt to one side of the flour. Then add ½ teaspoon active dry or instant yeast to the side opposite the salt. Pour ¾ cup (170 grams) lukewarm water into the center of the flour. To this, add 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Step 2: Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, mix ingredients together to form a sticky shaggy dough. This will take about 1 minute by hand. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and form a rough ball. Cover with a towel and let sit for 5 minutes.
Step 3: After 5 minutes, uncover and grab the side of the dough furthest from you and fold it over the center of the ball towards you. Turn the bowl 90 degrees and do the same. You will do this a total of four times. Four 90 degree turns, Four folds. Then cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
We will repeat Step 3 three more times.
Step 4: After the fourth and last folding, cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature for 40 minutes.
Step 5: Refrigerate, covered for at least 12 hours, but it can sit for up to 72 hours.
*Pro tip: I prefer to transfer my dough to a fresh bowl or container (Cambro is my favorite) for the overnight rise. If you have another large bowl, coat it with a little olive oil and place your dough ball in, turn it once to coat in olive oil and leave it to rise, seam side down. Sweet dreams, dough ball.
Step 1: About 3 hours before you want to serve the pizza, take it out of the fridge. The dough ball should be roughly double in size.
Step 2: Prepare your pan: your pan can be a 9 to 11 inch cast iron skillet (this is the best option for a crispy crust). I am using an 11 inch cast iron that my mom handed down to me, but you can use any oven-safe, heavy bottom skillet, or a 9 to11 inch round cake pan. Use about 1 tablespoon olive oil to grease your pan, be sure to grease the sides as well as the bottom.
Step 3: Place your dough ball in the pan and turn once to coat both sides. Press the dough out from the center to reach the sides of the pan. As you’re pressing out the dough, use your fingertips to dimple the dough. If your dough wants to shrink back, cover it and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then it should be more pliable and reach the sides, but if not, cover it and let it sit for another 15 minutes and try again. By now, your dough should reach the sides and you can push it up the sides a little to create the outer crust, like a pie.
Step 4: Cover and let dough sit at room temperature for about 2 hours
While the dough is having its second rise, let’s prep our toppings. Because the sauce goes on top of the cheese, I am making a chunky, meaty sauce to account for the toppings I would normally add to a thinner crust pizza.
*Why does the cheese go under the sauce? We don’t want to hinder the dough rise with liquid, nor do we want a soggy bottom. So the low-moisture mozz works as a barrier to keep the dough from getting too wet with sauce.
For my sauce, I am browning one pound ground Italian sausage (you can use links, just squeeze the sausage out of their casings). Once cooked through with crispy brown edges, I am adding 6 to 8 very roughly chopped crimini mushrooms. Add a generous pinch of kosher salt. Once the mushrooms are cooked through, reduce heat to low and wait about 3 minutes while the pan cools down slightly, this will hopefully keep the tomato sauce from splattering when it hits the pan. Pour in one jar of your favorite store-bought sauce, add another generous pinch of salt. Let this simmer, stirring occasionally until your dough is done proofing.
*Optional: about 5 minutes before the sauce comes off the heat, I like to add a generous sprinkling of thyme, fresh garlic, fresh cracked black pepper and crushed red pepper.
About 40 minutes before your dough is ready, arrange your oven racks so that you have one on the bottom for the pizza, and one about 5 inches from the top. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
At the two hour proofing mark, check your dough. You will know your dough is ready when it’s a little more puffy and/or when you poke it with your finger it springs back very slowly and leaves an indentation.
Evenly sprinkle your shredded low-moisture mozzarella on the dough. I used about a cup of cheese, add as much as you like. I put cheese all the way to the edge because I like the crispy cheese bits, but you can leave some naked crust if you like.
We like pepperoni, so it’s at this point (after the cheese, but before the sauce) when I add the pepperoni.
Evenly dollop your sauce on top of the cheese (and pepperoni). You don’t want to heavily spread the sauce because you want to keep your cheese layer evenly distributed under the sauce.
Bake on the bottom rack for 18-20 minutes. When the cheese is bubbly and the crust is browning, use a spatula to check the bottom of the pizza.
If the bottom is golden to your liking and the top is also looking good to you, you’re all set and you can place the pan on the stove top to cool slightly. If the bottom is golden but the top could use a little more time, you can place the pan on the upper rack for a few minutes. All ovens cook a little differently, so just go with what looks good to you.
After your pizza has cooled for about 3-5 minutes, use your spatula to ease the pie out of the skillet or pan and place on a wire rack or cutting board for a few more minutes before cutting.
Top with grated cheese, crushed red pepper, fresh basil… whatever you like!
Thank you for checking in this week. I really enjoyed sharing how to make a skillet pizza. What are some of your favorite comfort foods? Let me know in the comments and be sure to let me know if there is anything in particular you’d like to see in this column. You can also find me on facebook and instagram. Thanks so much – I look forward to seeing you again next week! xo Kelly
*Editor’s note: As much as I love to make breads, pizzas, biscuits, etc., I am not super great at getting dough to come out right. I struggle with over-proofing, under-proofing, working my dough too much…you name it. But, here’s the thing: I don’t let it discourage me from trying again. So while this particular dough worked out the first try, I worried it wouldn’t the whole time! But if it hadn’t worked out, I would have tried it again, and again, until it did. It’s all an adventure!
is our 40s+ fashion & food contributor. She posts a Daily Look on Tuesdays, writes about Fashion on Thursdays, and shares a recipe on Saturdays.
She’s 45, 5’0, and a petite 0/XS.
She also runs her own food blog, Djalali Cooks, which you can find by clicking the world icon below.