Food & dining

Family Meal

This pizza is a party in a pan

Frying pan pizza
Frying pan pizza

One in a series of occasional stories about food children might like.

Kids are funny about pizza, but so are fathers.

In my childless past, I didn’t hesitate at driving over a hundred miles to stand in a two-hour line at Sally’s Apizza (or Pepe’s or Modern), those remarkable pizzerias in New Haven. Nor did I pause at blowing the last of my savings on a trip to Naples to sample a buffalo milk pie at the source.

Not to mention the dollars and sweat and man hours spent in front of a furnace-hot oven. I should add that somehow I wheedled the recipe for grilled pizza from the chef at Al Forno, in Providence, birthplace of that magnificence, after which I spent weeks trying (mostly failing) at a re-creation.

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All of this, to my mind, worth it. But introduce young children to the mix and suddenly those same dollars and sweat and man hours look exceedingly precious.

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Since picking up the following foolproof recipe — from of all places an Austrian graduate student studying German literature in Providence — I can’t imagine not using it every week for the rest of my days. You take simple brilliance wherever you can grab it.

It’s a frying pan pizza, and the very basic, doable-during-the-busy-week procedure involves draping a stretched or rolled round of pizza dough into an oil-splashed 12-inch skillet, topping it with sauce and cheese and whatever you want, then finishing it under the broiler.

The technique is not only kid-friendly, it’s kid-party-making. Of course that’s not very hard, but how often does kid party translate to high-caliber, adult fare?

So one of my sons skims his designated dough with the subtlest daub of sauce, Michelangelo-style. Another covers his with a torrent of corn cut off the husk, which deliciously caramelizes under the broiler. And Big Daddy mops up with an enduring standby: anchovies, chopped red onion, red pepper flakes.

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Let the pizza party begin and not end.

Frying pan pizza

Here’s the delicious basic version, which will want for weekly invention.

½pound pizza dough
¼cup tomato puree
½cup mozzarella, shredded
¼cup parmesan or pecorino romano, grated
1-2tablespoons olive oil

1. While heating broiler and a 12-inch frying pan (not nonstick) over medium heat on your stovetop, roll or stretch dough into a 10-inch round, using a little extra flour as necessary so it does not stick.

2. Pour olive oil into pan, swirl around, and lay in the dough. Follow with a spooned layer of pureed tomato, then mozzarella, parmesan (or pecorino romano), a dusting of salt and pepper, and a spiraled drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Use a spatula to detach the dough if it’s sticking anywhere, also to check the bottom of the dough after a minute. Once it’s spotted brown, around two minutes, slide the pan under the broiler until it’s nicely crisped. Don’t be bashful about allowing a couple of bubbles of char to pop up.

3. Slide with a spatula onto a cutting board and serve.

Ted Weesner can be reached at tedweesner@gmail.com.