Three Cheese Skillet Pizza

I am a big fan of thin or at least, thinner crust pizza, but once in a while I need to branch out. Deep dish pizza is a Chicago thing, and with a bit of hunger setting in at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, and with an hour between flights, I went for it. I didn’t even come close to finishing the pizza, which would have fed three or four, but back then I was on an expense account.

This is a good recipe, and it suits me perfectly, as it uses a no-knead technique. In a large bowl, mix a cup and a quarter of all-purpose flour, a cup and a quarter of bread flour, 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast, and a teaspoon of fine salt. Then add a cup of lukewarm water, into which is mixed a tablespoon of olive oil. Mix with a rubber scraper to form a wet blob. Cover the bowl and let the blob sit for a few minutes. With your fingers wet with olive oil, dig into the dough and fold it over the top. Repeat three more times every few minutes, then cover the bowl and let it rise for 6 to 8 hours. Take the dough from the bowl and shape it into a ball. Pour some olive oil into the bowl and put the dough ball back in to thoroughly cover with the oil. Let it sit in the bowl, covered, for an hour.

You can use a single skillet – 10 inch will yield a nice, deep pizza – but I use both a 10 inch and an 8 inch, as there is enough dough for both. Regardless, pour a liberal amount of olive oil into your skillet(s) to cover the bottom and sides. Transfer the dough to the skillet(s). Press the dough to the sides. If you meet any resistance, let it rest for a few minutes. Once the dough is pressed to the sides, cover and let proof for about 30 minutes.

Shred a cup and a half of mozzarella, a half cup of cheddar cheese and a half cup of asiago or fontina. I arranged the oven so one rack was close to the bottom element, and one close to the top, then heated the oven to 450 degrees F.

With the dough nicely pressed to the sides of the skillet(s) then, I sprinkled a cup of the mozzarella, followed by a scant amount of tomato sauce (I use fire-roasted diced tomatoes from Italissima), covered with prosciutto that has been chopped and sautéed. The rest of the mozzarella and the cheddar and asiago/fontina are added, along with some dabs of “zhoug” (see below), and the pizza is baked on the bottom rack for 15 to 20 minutes. Check the bottom of the pizza; it should be nicely browned and easily separated from the skillet(s). To finish things off, transfer the pizza to the top rack for 5 minutes to crisp the cheese.

Take a spatula and lift the pizza from the skillet(s), let the pizza cool slightly before lifting it onto a cutting board. Add some herbs if you choose (oregano, basil, parsley for example), although the zhuog makes a nice contrast. I like this pizza as an appy, so I cut the pieces small.

Zhoug is a Middle Eastern sauce that can by used in any number of ways (great in an omelet or in pasta). Here is a recipe for zhoug:

1 jalapeno pepper sliced
2 good sized garlic cloves
1 large bunch cilantro
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

Blend until a paste is formed, about the consistency of salsa.