One thing I like about this castiron skillet pizza is it allows you to achieve a wonderful crisp crust at the bottom without needing a pizza stone. A lot of ingredients used in this pizza are ready to go and that you can buy at any store. One of those is pizza dough, start by stretching it, when at room temparature, it is much easier to stretch. Oil your dough then stretch it to about 10 inches round and then making the outside ring a little bit thicker. Have your Italian sausage which is seasoned with fennel seeds and with some fresh fennel.
With toppings that are raw like the fennel, thinly sliced is really ideal because you want it to be able to cook in a pretty brief period of time. You are going to cook the pizza on the top rack and take advantage of the way the heat circulates in the oven. So you will be cooking the pizza from underneath in the cast iron and from the top at the same time. Cover the pizza dough with a plastic wrap while building the toppings. For the toppings, get some fresh fennel, low moisture mozzarella that is grated, jarred marinara just a good quality sauce, salt, olive oil, and some garlic.
The main topping is the Italian sausage, with raw toppings like sausage, you want to cook it first to make sure it’s fully cooked before it goes into the oven. You can use any other type like pork sausage or merguez. Once your pan is preheated, add a tablespoon of oil and add the Italian sausage and start breaking it up into smaller pieces. Once done, take the sausages out of the pan and leave the fat in the pan, take the pizza crust dough and lay it in the pan. Lightly season the whole dough with salt then spread marinara, add the low moisture mozzarella then fennel.
The fennel shrinks a lot in the oven so before baking, you will drizzle olive oil over the pizza so it can cook in the oven with the pizza and not dry out. Add very thinly sliced garlic but if you don’t just like garlic, you can leave it off. Add the sausage and if there are any large pieces, just crumble them a little bit smaller then add two tablespoons of olive oil, really even it all around the pizza. Pre crisp the bottom of the crust before placing it in the oven, bring it over to medium-low heat The cast iron will be acting like the pizza stone and retain heat. Once golden brown at the bottom, place it in the oven for about 11 minutes.
Let it cool then transfer it to your cutting board then finish it with some red pepper flakes, fresh basil, a very little sprinkle of salt and a little bit of olive oil. Slice your pizza and enjoy.
- 12 oz. store-bought pizza dough, room temperature
- 5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 8 oz. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
- Kosher salt
- ⅓ cup prepared marinara
- ¾ cup coarsely grated low-moisture mozzarella
- ½ small fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
- Place a rack in the top-most position of the oven; preheat to 475°. Place dough on a work surface; drizzle with 1 Tbsp. oil, turning to coat.
- Stretch out to a 10 inch round and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
- Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium. Cook sausage, breaking up into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned in spots and cooked through, 5–8 minutes. Transfer sausage to a small bowl.
- Remove skillet from heat and carefully lay dough inside.
- Season with salt then spread marinara over the entire surface of the dough.
- Top with mozzarella, then fennel, garlic, and cooked sausage. Drizzle with another 2 Tbsp. oil.
- Peek underneath the crust—the bottom should be golden brown and crisp from the residual heat in the skillet.
- If it’s not, set over medium-low and cook until crust is golden brown, about 3 minutes.
- Transfer skillet to oven and bake pizza on top rack until crust is golden brown around the edges and cheese is browned in spots and bubbling all over, 10–14 minutes.
- Let cool 5 minutes, then top with red pepper flakes and basil. Sprinkle with more salt and drizzle with remaining 1 Tbsp. oil.