NEPA Pan-fried Sicilian Pizza
This crispy pan-fried Sicilian pizza from Luzerne County, Pennsylvania is a regional recipe that involves cooking pizza dough in a layer of peanut oil to create a generously crunchy crust with a pillowy interior. Topped with simple tomato sauce, sweet onions, mozzarella and cheddar, it’s like a mashup of pizza fritta and Grandma-style.
Originally invented by Victory Pig Pizza and BBQ in Wyoming (the Luzerne County town, not the state), this pizza’s beloved in its particular corner of Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA). So loved, in fact, that nearly 50 additional pan-fried Sicilian pizzerias have popped up in Luzerne County, many branching off the Victory Pig family tree in one way or another! Jim Mirabelli, the owner and chief pizza officer of NEPA Pizza Review (a guide to all things Northeastern Pennsylvania-style pizza) says, “Since having my first ‘trays’ (as locals call a full pizza) from places like Pizza L’Oven, Pizza Perfect and Victory Pig, I’ve been fascinated by each crispy and wonderfully flavorful bite.“
We asked Jim to share his recipe for re-creating this pizza at home. The key to authentic flavor is a healthy dose of frying oil — Jim likes peanut oil, but you can use canola or sunflower oil instead —and sliced, chopped sweet onions sprinkled on top of the sauce.
This recipe appears in A Love Letter to Northeastern Pennsylvania-style Pizza by Jim Mirabelli.
Notes: We recommend using gas for this recipe, as the bake requires manipulation of temperature that’s easiest with a gas flame.
5 hours, 30 minutes
5 hours passive
30 minutes active
Makes 2 x 10 by 14-inch pizzas
2 to 4
Ooni Pizza Dough Scraper
10 x 14-inch steel pizza pan
Ooni pizza oven
Ooni Infrared Thermometer
Ooni Pizza Peel
Ooni Pizza Oven Gloves
offset or metal spatula
Pizza Cutter Rocker Blade or Ooni Pizza Cutter Wheel
2 x 500-gram Pan-fried Sicilian-style Dough Balls
28 grams (2 tablespoons) peanut oil (or preferred substitution), to grease the pan
extra-virgin olive oil, to drizzle over and coat the dough
260 grams (a generous cup) Pan-fried Sicilian-style Pizza Sauce (or more for a saucier tray)
80 grams sweet onion (about ¾ of a medium onion), finely sliced then chopped
200 grams (1 ¾ cups) shredded mozzarella
160 grams (1 cup) thinly sliced white cheddar
Using the Pan-fried Sicilian-style dough recipe, make dough and portion into 2 x 500-gram pieces.
Shape into smooth dough balls and place in a covered container. Allow to rest at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, or until dough balls double in size.
Prepare the pan. Pour in half the peanut oil and work it around to coat the bottom and sides, then place dough in the pan. Coat your fingers with olive oil to prevent them sticking to the dough, then stretch the dough out by pressing it gently and creating dimples in it with your fingers — similar to what you’d do when making focaccia.
Drizzle and rub olive oil on top of the dough, then cover it with plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 1 hour at room temperature.
Remove plastic, then press your fingers into the dough in a random way to make dimples and push some of the air out. Cover again for 1 hour.
Remove the plastic, dimple the dough one last time and press the outside of the dough against the sides of the pan to create a slightly raised-edge crust.
Spoon half the sauce over the top of the dough, covering everything except for a ½-inch border for the crust. Then, top the sauce with half of the onions.
Preheat your gas oven to 800°F (425°C) measured with an infrared thermometer pointed at the center of the stone.
Once preheated, turn your burner flame to low and place the pan in the oven for 4 minutes, rotating 90 degrees every 60 seconds. (If you’re working in a 12-inch oven, rotate 180 degrees after 2 minutes, then cook for 2 more minutes.)
Remove pizza from the oven and turn flame to high until the center of stone returns to 800°F (425°C).
Apply more sauce to any dry areas of the pizza. Sprinkle lightly with half the shredded mozzarella and cheddar.
With the flame still on high, return the pizza to the oven for 2 minutes. Turn off the flame, then leave the pizza inside with the door open (if applicable) for 4 to 5 minutes. The residual heat of the stone will continue to “fry” the bottom of the pizza in the pan. You should hear the crackling and popping of oil.
Retrieve the pizza from the oven and use an offset or metal spatula to remove it from the pan to a cooling rack to drain any excess oil.
Check the bottom of the pizza to ensure it’s golden brown and crispy.
If it is not crispy enough for your liking, refire the oven to 800°F (425°C), put the pizza back in the pan and place it back in the oven for 1 to 2 minutes with the flame turned off.
If your pizza is crispy enough (it should look like fried pork rinds), let it cool, then use a rocker cutter blade (or pizza cutter) to slice it into 8 “cuts” and enjoy!
Repeat the process for the second tray.