Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cast Iron Skillet Pizza

  Holy deliciousness, Batman! This is the best pizza ever. Ever. And almost too easy, honestly. I got this recipe from this blog right here, and you can follow his directions if you wish, but I'm going to tell you the few tweaks that I threw in. Most of them are time saving tweaks, so listen up. The first time I made this, I followed those directions to a T. The second time...well, you all know how good I am at leaving recipes just how they are...
  First off, you don't HAVE to refrigerate the dough for 2 hours (after letting it sit at room temp for an hour), and then bring it back to room temperature for an hour. I just coated it in oil, set it in a clean bowl and let it double. Then I made my pizza, and the crust was just as awesome as when I took the 3 extra hours for the other 2 steps. The only thing that was different was the crust was slightly more dense than the first time.
  Also, you don't have to make your own pizza sauce. You can, obviously, and it's sure to be delicious, but I just used a can of pizza sauce. I used Muir Glen (no, I'm not getting paid to promote them.), because frankly, those people know tomatoes. Yum. This will probably be the only time I suggest using anything canned over making it yourself. Put it on your calenders.
  Lastly, unless you have a gas stove, do not heat your skillet up (with the pizza in it) on the stove top over high heat for 3 minutes before putting it in the oven. I did that the first time with my electric stove, and it burnt the dickens out of the bottom of the crust. This time, I just put the dough in the skillet(s), and placed them over medium low heat on the stove for only as long as it took me to put the toppings on. So like...1 minute or less. Then just straight into the 450 degree oven and the crust was perfect, and best of all, it wasn't burnt.
  I highly recommend using a stand mixer with a dough hook to get the dough started, but just until it sticks together nicely. Knead by hand, because it's too easy to over knead this dough in a stand mixer. And kneading dough by hand for 8 straight minutes gives your forearms a great workout.
  I doubled the recipe to make 2 8-inch pizzas and 1 10-inch. A single batch is perfect for just one 10 or 12 inch pizza. I am just going to include my version recipe for the dough, as the sauce and toppings are all up to your personal preference. The entire original recipe, if you want it, is attached to the link I posted earlier in this post.

Cast Iron Skillet Pizza Dough:
2 1/2 Cups bread flour (I used King Arthur flour for this, and did not regret it. Also, not getting paid for that either, sigh)
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 Teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 Teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup warm water

Mix the sugar, salt, yeast and warm water in a large bowl, or in a stand mixer bowl. Let sit 5 minutes, or until the yeast has started to foam. Add the flour slowly, mixing until the dough becomes firm, not too sticky or stiff, and holds it's shape. If it's too dry, add a small amount of water, if it's too sticky, add a little more flour.
Let the dough sit for 5 minutes.
Remove it from the bowl and knead it on a clean surface for 8 minutes, or until it becomes smooth and elastic. Shape into a round and place it in a clean bowl, coat it in about 1 to 2 Tbsp of olive oil, cover with plastic wrap and let it double.
After it's doubled, take it out and knead in a just enough flour to help soak up the excess oil. Roll the dough into a round about 4 inches bigger than whatever size skillet you're using. Just plop the crust into a very lightly greased cast iron skillet (if your skillet is well seasoned, you shouldn't need much cooking spray at all). Cut the excess off, leaving about an inch going up the sides of the skillet. Fold the edges and tuck it up under itself to form the crust. Place the skillet over medium low heat and add your choice of sauce and toppings. As soon as the toppings are on, remove from the stove top and place onto the center rack of a 450 degree oven for about 18 minutes. Once it's done you should be able to easily slid a spatula under the pizza and just slip it right out of the pan. Well seasoned cast iron is awesome that way. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cincinnati Chili

I have always hated chili. I despise chili powder. The chili I've had was always either too spicy, too tomato-y or had way too many beans (which, by the way, is any beans at all).

That being said, I could not stop shoving this chili in my face. So freaking delicious. And no beans! It's not very traditional, it's not spicy, and it has allspice and cinnamon in it. And it's served over spaghetti in true Cincinnati style. With a mountain of cheese on top. And really folks, does it get better than that? No, no it does not.

I got this recipe out of my Cook's Country 'Best Lost Suppers' cookbook, which is also where I got the recipe for the Boston Brown Bread.

Normally chili takes 1-2 to 5 hours to make, right? Not this pot of awesome. 30-40 minutes, with prep. I made the chili in my cast iron dutch oven, and it was perfect! I'm seriously thinking of replacing most of my pots and pans with cast iron; it never ever fails to make food turn out amazing. Disclaimer: cast iron pots and pans will not give you delicious cooking superpowers of awesome. But they might help ;)

When you serve up this chili, pour it over a nice helping of spaghetti noodles, top it with chopped onion, beans if you really feel the need, which you shouldn't, because beans in chili is a sin, a monstrous portion of shredded cheddar cheese, and lastly, oyster crackers (which I forgot to include in the picture. My bad.) Try not to make yourself sick by eating too much.

Cincinnati Chili

1 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 onions, minced
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2 Tbs. chili powder
1 Tbs. dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper
1/4 tsp ground allspice
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups tomato sauce (I recommend Muir Glen organic for this, just simply because it's AMAZE)
2 Tbs. cider vinegar
2 tsp dark brown sugar
1 1/2 pound 85% lean ground beef
Optional: cooked spaghetti noodles, chopped onion, white beans, cheddar cheese and oyster crackers

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven (works great with cast iron) over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned around the edges, about 8 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, chili powder, oregano, cinnamon, garlic, 1 tsp salt, 3/4 tsp pepper, and allspice and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the chicken broth, tomato sauce, vinegar and sugar.
Crumble in the beef, breaking up any large clumps with a wooden spoon. Bring to a simmer and cook until the chili is deep brown and thickened slightly, 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve over spaghetti noodles with plenty of chopped onion, beans, oyster crackers and a mountain of cheese.