Yield: 4 servings
- 1 pound homemade fresh pizza dough or store-bought fresh pizza dough (not pre-baked)
- 1 tablespoon cornmeal mixed with 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 to 6 tablespoons good-quality homemade or canned pizza sauce like Pastorelli brand
- 4 to 6 ounces sliced pepperoni or cooked and drained Italian sausage
- 1 medium julienned or thinly sliced red pepper
- 1 small julienned or thinly sliced white or red onion (optional)
- Black pepper and/or red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
- 2 to 3 cups, or to taste, shredded mozzarella cheese or Italian-blend cheese
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 6 fresh basil leaves
- Heat the oven to 525 degrees F or as high as your oven will go to simulate the heat of a pizza-house oven.
- Place the cast iron skillet on a burner set to medium-high and heat until hot but not smoking. Remember to use a pot holder or oven mitt when you grab the handle of this hot pan.
- Stretch and flatten the dough by hand or with a rolling pan until you have a round 3 inches wider than the bottom of your skillet. So, if your skillet is 10 inches, roll the dough into a 13-inch circle.
- Evenly sprinkle the cornmeal-flour mixture over the bottom of the hot skillet and, taking care not to burn your fingers, fit the stretched dough into the pan, pulling halfway up the sides for a thin pizza and all the way up for a deep-dish pizza. Make sure there are no holes in the dough through which the filling could leak.
- Brush the dough with 1 tablespoon olive oil and let the crust cook until it starts to bubble. Immediately spread on the pizza sauce. Top the pizza with pepperoni slices or cooked and drained Italian sausage and julienned or thinly sliced red pepper and optional onion. Sprinkle with optional black and/or red pepper and finish with cheese on top.
- Remove from the burner, using an oven mitt, and place in the very hot oven. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from oven and brush edges of the crust with remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil.
- Cool 5 minutes, garnish with fresh basil leaves, slice, and serve with beer or your favorite beverage.
Skillet Size and Crust Results
The skillet size used will yield different crust results.
- Use a 10- to 12-inch cast iron skillet and you will be rewarded with a crispy yet chewy crust.
- If you like deep-dish pizza, use an 8- or 9-inch skillet.
- If you like extra-crispy crust, use a 14-inch skillet.
Substitute ham and pineapple for the pepperoni or sausage. Use green pepper instead of red pepper. Add sliced black or kalamata olives. Sprinkle with capers or anchovies. Use grilled chicken and a béchamel sauce instead of pizza sauce. If you like a little heat in your pizza, season with black pepper and/or red pepper flakes, bearing in mind that most pepperoni already has a little kick going on. Be creative -- it's your pizza!