Ah, it’s been awhile. Actually it’s been a really long time since I’ve posted anything. Last week, as we know, involved the terrible bombings at the Boston Marathon and the capture of the responsible individuals. I know my break was extensive, but I find myself extremely emotional during times of immense violence that the thought of talking about recipes and my trials and tribulations in the kitchen (topics which I am extremely passionate about) did not seem right for the mood that the entire country was feeling.
Meg and I had this discussion that the internet, television, and media in general are used as escape methods. We watch certain television shows to escape from the issues we face in our own life. The same goes for the internet. That’s why many people continued on with their lives during those trying times; to escape from that which they could not control or even understand. I can accept that, but I’m not that type of person. I immense myself solely in the lives of others (mostly because I am more concerned with other people’s happiness than my own) that anything that seems important to me, at the time, is irrelevant. Last week was a testament to that and I hope you can understand why I had to step out of the kitchen for a few days.
My thoughts and prayers are still with those who have been affected by last week’s tragic events, but justice will come and soon we will get answers to why these acts were committed.
As for now, let’s discuss the reason I have returned: Pizza. Yep, there I said it. Pizza. One of the greatest gifts to ever grace this world we live on, in its crusty, cheesy, saucy, glory. Pizza.
I’ve mentioned before that I used to be a pizza snob and not in the good way. I’d only ever touch a plain pizza, sometimes pepperoni if I was feeling a little daring that day. Never, in my life, would I eat a pizza with spinach and bacon on it. Even though bacon is the main portion of my food pyramid, it still didn’t belong on my beloved plain pizza.
Well, let me tell you, that has all changed.
I’m thinking of new pizza flavor profiles every day and let me tell you, it has become an obsession. The only thing I can think about is this pizza and how badly I need it every day of my freaking life. Every. Day.
The crust concept came from my bff Jessica at How Sweet It Is (I consider us bffs, but we’ve actually never met or spoken really, but we have the exact same personalities so therefore we must be bffs) and let me tell you, all pizzas must be made using this method. Placing the dough in a hot cast iron skillet makes the bottom so crispy and crunchy. Then you throw it in the broiler and BAM, you have a crunchy top. That leaves the middle chewy and delicious, as all pizzas should be.
I compare it to a brick oven style pizza. And if you haven’t had one of those, they’re amazing. There’s something about the double crisp edges that even Meg, the self-proclaimed pizza-hater, was drooling over. IT’S THAT GOOD.
I spiced up the pizza dough with my own little pizza creation. This pizza would be the definition of my life. Bacon, spinach, fontina and mozzarella cheese, tons of garlic. YUM. I promise that even if you set off every fire alarm in your kitchen because you forgot that your fire alarms are super sensitive and the pan has to be scorching hot, so hot that it starts smoking (not that I am speaking from experience), you will still make this pizza over and over again.
Cast Iron Skillet Spinach Fontina Pizza
Dough recipe conceptualized by How Sweet It Is
Yield: 2 pizza doughs and 1 pizza
Prep Time: 1 1/2 hours
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Crust (Note: ingredients for two pizza doughs)
1 1/8 cups warm water
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups all-purpose flour (replace half with whole wheat flour for extra flavor)
1 teaspoon salt
Pizza (Note: ingredients for one pizza)
6 slices of bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 oz. spinach (half a bag)
4 oz. fontina cheese, grated
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, grated
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large mixing bowl, combine warm water, yeast, honey, and olive oil. Mix until just combined and let sit at room temperature until the yeast becomes foamy, about 10 minutes. Add in 2 1/2 cups flour and salt, stirring until the dough comes together. Using your hands, form the dough into a ball and work in the additional 1/2 cup flour. Knead on a floured surface for a few minutes until the dough becomes springy. Coat the bowl with olive oil and place the dough inside making sure every side is covered in the oil. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Once the dough has risen to double its size, push it down and place back on the floured surface. Knead for an additional few minutes to bring the dough together and split into two balls. Place on a well-floured pizza peel or baking sheet and work into a circle just about the size of your skillet.
Pizza and Cast Iron Skillet Cooking Method
Heat a regular skillet to cook your bacon, just don’t use your cast iron for this step. Once the pan is hot, add in bacon pieces and render until they are nice and crispy. Remove from the pan and place on a paper towel lined plate to drain.
Place your cast iron skillet on the stove and heat it over high heat, it will start to smoke so open all windows, doors, and turn on any air conditioners lest you should experience every fire alarm going off in your house/apartment. Also preheat your broiler to high heat.
While the pan is heating, start to build your pizza. Brush the dough with the tablespoon of olive oil, making sure it is completely covered from edge to edge. Sprinkle on the garlic cloves so they are in a nice even layer and then cover with the spinach. Follow the spinach with the crumbled bacon bits and then the grated fontina and mozzarella cheeses. Cover with the parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.
Once the pizza is finished and your pan is screaming hot. Carefully slide the pizza into the cast iron skillet. Allow it to cook in the pan over high heat for about 2 minutes. Turn off the stove and using oven mitts (the pan will be RIDICULOUSLY hot), place the skillet under the broiler for an additional 3 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the top is golden brown. Rotate the pan to create even heating.
Once the pizza is browned to your liking, remove from the broiler and allow to cool for a few minutes on the stove. Once the pizza has cooled, remove from the skillet, slice, and enjoy!
The good thing is, this recipe makes two doughs, go wild!