Make-your-own-pizza night, when I was a kid, was a chance to crack jokes with my dad over a Boboli crust, eat tomato paste by the spoonful, and slurp marinated mushrooms straight out of the jar. By the time the pizza was in the oven, we were already full, and the kitchen was trashed. I try to bring that same level of mom’s-not-looking excitement to my own DIY pizza nights now, with the addition of an important secret weapon: the Yoshi Copper Grill & Bake Mat.
Intended for, well, the grill, this As-Seen-On-TV “gadget” is a placemat-sized swatch of copper-laced, heat-resistant material called PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene if you’re nasty). Its non-stick coating allows you to do important things like grill a lone slice of American cheese (finally!). More importantly, copper is the poster child of conductivity, outmatched only by silver; according to the infomercial (definitely worth your time), when placed over heat, the mats convey the magical ability to grill anything without it sticking, falling through the grates, or spontaneously bursting into flame.
What the infomercial skims right over is that these mats also do a bang-up job in lieu of a pizza stone. Seriously, sell that heavy unitasker that inevitably falls on your foot every time you go looking for a cutting board; instead, build your pizza right on the grill mat, then use a pizza peel (or cutting board) to slide the whole thing into the oven, and watch the copper get to work conducting heat directly to your little baby pie. In every pizza kitchen in which I’ve worked, of all the important factors in pizza making (flour weights, hydration levels, proofing times, stretching techniques), one could never be underestimated: Pizza needs a powerful blast of heat from all directions in order to get that bubbly, chewy crust.
Lighter than the pizza stone and infinitely more reusable than parchment paper, the grill mat allows you to basically bake your pizza right on the oven grates, which is the next best thing to a ripping hot wood-fired oven. The fact that you can also use it to grill just about anything makes it a multi-use tool, which we all need more of in our lives. It’s also easy to clean (dishwasher safe!), and rolls up like the mystical scroll that it is and tucks into a drawer when you’re done with it — which may in fact be the most important trait of any kitchen tool.
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