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Clam, Chard and Bacon Pizza in a Cast Iron Skillet

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We love making pizza in One Couple's Kitchen.  We usually have pizza night once per week. Until now, we've stuck with using the pizza stone, or occasionally grilling it.  When it's my week to menu-plan, I tend to stick with rustic and simple - tomatoes, garlic, basil and mozzarella.

On a side note, the best mozzarella in Richmond is at Tom Leonard's in Short Pump.  They make it in house daily, and there's nothing that compares.

The Wife tends to get a little adventurous with her pizzas, putting things like sweet potatoes or nectarines on there.  They're delicious, and I'm always eating crow for the funny looks I give her when she's assembling them.

Back to this recipe from Bon Appetit - I was intrigued by cooking the pizza in a cast iron pan.  After trying it, I'm hooked.  It makes a smaller pizza because you're limited in size, but the dough gets crisper and I find it holds up better that just using a pizza stone.

This pizza was great.  Clams, bacon and greens are always a perfect combination and this is no exception.  The saltiness of the parmesan married perfectly to the brininess of the clams and the bitterness of the chard.

Clam, Chard and Bacon Pizza in a Cast Iron Skillet

Pizza Dough (store bought if you must, but homemade is always better)
1 10-ounce can whole baby clams
1/2 pound thick cut bacon, chopped into 1/2 inch lardons
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 minced shallot
1 1-pound bunch Swiss chard, center stalks removed, leaves torn
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 tablespoon  wine vinegar
yellow cornmeal for dusting
1 tablespoon good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 500.

Roll out your pizza dough to about a 14 inch circle and poke it all over with a fork - this will prevent air bubbles from forming when the pizza is cooking.

Drain your clams and reserve the liquid.

Cook the bacon in the cast iron skillet until just crispy.  Set the bacon aside and cook the garlic and shallot in the bacon grease until fragrant - about 1-2 minutes.

Add the chard and clam juice.  Cook until the chard starts to wilt, about 5 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper, and add the butter, vinegar and clams (note The Wife did not want clams on hers, so I omitted them here, and added them when I topped the pizza.).

Transfer the chard mixture to a bowl and wipe out the cast iron skillet and return to the stove and heat the empty pan over medium-high heat.

When heated, sprinkle the pan with cornmeal, distribute it evenly to the best of your ability and add the dough to the pan.

You'll have more dough than you have pan, but that's OK - scrunch it around the edges and you'll get a nice crust lip.

Brush the top of the dough with olive oil, and bake for about 6 minutes - shaking the pan occasionally to keep the dough loose.  (don't worry the bottom of the dough never burns.  I was worried about that, but it never happened.  It keeps a beautiful golden crispy.)

When the dough has firmed up, take it out of the oven and top it with the chard mixture, return it to the oven and cook for about 10 minutes - until the crust turns a golden brown.

Remove the pizza from the oven, top with bacon and cheese and cook an additional 2-3 minutes, just until the cheese is melted.

When the pizza is done, the crust will pull away from the edges of the pan ever so slightly.

Using a wooden spoon or spatula, shimmy the pizza from the pan, onto a cutting board and let it rest for a minute.

 Slice and Enjoy!

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