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Kara’s Sights & Bites: An old classic – cast iron – makes a comeback

By Kara Kimbrough

 

Seconds away from pulling a frozen pizza from the supermarket freezer case last week, I glanced at the nutritional info. Learning that a couple of slices, or roughly one-fourth of the pizza, contained close to 800 grams of sodium sent my blood pressure soaring without taking a single bite. Realizing that I’d likely already consumed the cutoff point of 1,500 sodium grams that day caused me to return the offending object back to the freezer. Once home, I uncovered a simple way to make my own pizza without any accompanying guilt or blood pressure spike.

 

Searching for a better way to enjoy pizza caused me to resurrect a kitchen item that often goes overlooked. Unless I’m making cornbread, I rarely use one of my cast iron skillets. However, that may soon be a thing of the past. Not only did I find a way to make quick, easy and relatively-healthy pizza in a skillet, I also learned that steak cooked in a skillet rivals almost anything I’ve been served in a pricy steakhouse.

 

It may sound a little strange to bake a pizza in a skillet, especially when pizza stones are touted as the only way to make delicious homemade pizza. However, using a stone requires homemade or store-bought pizza dough. If you’re like me, it’s not always readily available. Baking the dough in a skillet creates a crispy, textured dough that rivals anything you’ll find a restaurant and especially in a frozen pizza.

 

Sidenote: in my opinion, with a few exceptions, frozen pizza crusts generally taste like cardboard, so it doesn’t take much to top those versions.

 

To make your own healthier pizza at home, try this version that, despite the unusual combination of Greek yogurt and self-rising flour, actually tastes really, really good. And, keep the skillet handy the next time a steak dinner is on the menu. I promise your version will rival or even surpass anything served in an expensive steakhouse.

 

Easiest Skillet Pizza You’ll Ever Make

2 tablespoons extra-virgin oil

1 cup Greek yogurt

1 cup self-rising flour

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup pizza sauce (jarred or homemade)

1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Toppings: crumbled, cooked ground beef or bacon, pepperoni, shaved sirloin steak or your favorite meat; sliced vegetables, if desired

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Brush a 12-inch cast-iron skillet with 1 tablespoon of the oil.  Mix the yogurt, flour and salt together in a medium bowl with your hands until it becomes a ball, then flatten into a disk and press into the skillet.

Brush the pizza dough with remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Spread the pizza sauce over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the sides, for the crust. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese (along with meat and vegetables, if adding) evenly over the sauce. Top with grated Parmesan. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned, then let cool in the pan for 3 minutes.

To turn it into a cheeseburger pizza, cook pizza using ground beef crumbles; when pizza is baked, topped with chopped tomatoes and sliced lettuce, then top with a burger sauce of equal parts ketchup and mayonnaise, along with a tablespoon of relish that has been whisked together.

Homemade pizza made in a skillet contains the perfect crispy crust and perfectly-cooked toppings.

Homemade pizza made in a skillet contains the perfect crispy crust and perfectly-cooked toppings.

Better Than a Steakhouse Skillet Steak

2- 2 1/2-inch-thick steak (porterhouse or T-bones are good cuts)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons butter, cubed

Minced garlic, fresh thyme (optional)

Remove meat from refrigerator and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat the broiler, then heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until very hot.

Season steak with salt and pepper on both sides. Add oil to the skillet, then place steak in the skillet. Cook until a nice sear forms, about 3 minutes. Remove skillet from the heat, transfer to a cutting board and cut the meat from around the bone, reserving bone. Slice the steak against the grain into thick pieces. Put the bone back into the skillet and assemble the steak around it (goal is to make the steak look as it originally did) with the seared side up. Top with pieces of butter. Top with garlic and a few sprigs of thyme, if desired.

Place skillet in oven and broil on top rack to desired doneness, approximately 4 minutes for medium rare, 5-6 minutes for medium; a few minutes longer for well done. Transfer to a serving dish and pour pan drippings over the steak.

 

 Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer and travel agent from Mississippi. Emall her at kkrpco@yahoo.com.

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