Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Jupiter, or Thor, is perfect

Another person whom I want to be when I grow up is J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats, who basically just gets paid to write about food and make a thousand hamburgers a year. Maybe I have a better chance of duplicating his life trajectory than Jim's, since the first step in Kenji's is "obtain degree from MIT" and, hey, I've already done that one!

Recently Kenji posted a technique for making pizza at home that involves using a cast-iron skillet, preheating it on th--WAIT DID YOU SAY USING A CAST-IRON SKILLET? Of course this is automatically my technique for making all pizzas at home from now on. Basically you get the skillet hot on the stovetop, toss the dough in, build the pizza in the skillet, broil it for a few minutes, and then toss it back on the burner to crisp up the bottom a bit if you find it not crisp enough. It takes a little bit of mise en place to top the pizza inside the screamingly hot skillet and a little bit of dexterity to move it down to my under-the-stove broiler without scorching my kitchen floor--but once I got that figured out, I was pleasantly surprised that it takes only about five minutes to make a pizza, and that it doesn't require buying a pizza stone or heating it up in my 500 degree oven for an hour.

This would have been an even more pleasant surprise had I decided to start making pizzas in the middle of summer, rather than the beginning of fall, when I find it more cost-effective to bake things than to turn on the heat in my apartment.

Pizza is one of those very deep rabbit holes you can fall down, like airline miles or the Jonas Brothers. Like, start reading this recipe and try to stop before reaching the end. It's the kind of thing where you think about ways that you could make the perfect Neapolitan pizza, and then wonder how people did this for a hundred years before they had KitchenAid mixers, and then wonder why Neapolitan pizza is the standard anyway, and then sooner or later you're starting to question the nature of reality all because of a stupid meal with three ingredients.

I really like this technique because it gets your pizza done in just a few minutes, it's tasty, and it gives you that nice puffy crust (I think the pizza nerd word is "cornicione") on the edge with limited pyrotechnics or oven-hacking. Topped with crispy bacon, arugula, fresh sun gold tomatoes from my garden, cheese, and, yes, a fried egg--well, that's how breakfast should be on a Saturday morning.

Sam's Mom has long said that pizza is pretty much the perfect food because it already contains all food groups before you even start to put toppings on.

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