Pros: Sturdy, reinforced edges, inexpensive, lots of uses in the kitchen.
Cons: A real pain to clean!
Frozen pizzas used to be a real pain to cook until I invested a few dollars in a pizza screen. Simply pop the frozen pie on the screen, toss it in the oven, set the timer and wait. When its time to remove it you wont have to fumble with the pizza or worry about losing toppings which means a cleaner, happier oven. If you normally cook your frozen or store bought uncooked pizzas on a cookie sheet but never got the crunch you wanted from the crust, that will be a thing of the past with a pizza screen. Outside of owning a pizza stone, this is the best investment you can make if you are a pizza lover that purchases take and bake pies or the frozen variety. I consider this to be a true kitchen essential since it is basic, easy to use, inexpensive and can be used for numerous tasks.
The Pizza Screen
If youve never seen one of these, here is the low down. Its made of metal with a reinforced solid edge to make putting it in the oven and removing it easy. The middle of the screen is made up of a small metal diamond pattern so you wont have to worry about the raw dough or frozen bit falling through. Ive cooked homemade dough, garlic bread, frozen pizzas and refrigerated pizzas on this screen and Ive never had a problem with any of them sticking to the screen although it does help to flour the raw dough a little before you put it on the screen. The real advantage of using this over a pizza stone is that it is lighter, easier to handle and doesnt require much space to store it. There arent any handles on this so you will have to handle it carefully when removing a heavy pizza from the oven so you dont end up having it slide off or tip over. Always make sure to use thick oven gloves or mitts when handling this, even if it has been out of the over for a few minutes because the reinforced edge will retain heat longer than the middle section.
Since this is pretty big chances are it might not fit completely in your sink to wash it down. This isnt the easiest to clean so you might want to cover it with aluminum foil if you are making a pizza with a lot of extra cheese on it. Ill admit it, I dont wash this every time I use it which might explain why it has turned from the nice bright silver color to a ugly brown. If you get any cheese or topping on the screen your best bet is to try and pick it off when it is still warm. If that doesnt work you can scrub it down with dishwashing soap and a scrubber pad. Make sure you check the screen for stray piece of the scrubber before you put it away, I found more than a few of them and would have hated having them stuck to the next pizza I went to bake. There arent any instructions for using this in the dishwasher but given the size of it, you might have a hard time fitting it inside the dishwasher even on the bottom rack. Before you store it give it a few taps over the sink to remove crumbs [if you elect not to wash it] then store it wherever you have space. I put mine on the top of the cabinet or toss it back in the oven after its cooled off.
Since these are inexpensive you can toss it in the garbage when it starts to look really bad or recycle them and use them in other areas of the house. The last one that bit the dust was converted into a make shift tool hanger in the garage by putting a few metal hangers through the diamond shaped metal pattern so I could hang small garden tools, wrenches and tools from it so I could find them when I needed them. I also use these for cooling cookies and this is excellent when you are making any type of soft batch cookie that needs more support than a regular wire rack. Until I started using this for cooling off cookies Id have them sagging in the middle or falling through the wire rack but because of the tight diamond pattern of the pizza screen it allows them to cool quicker without having the cookie dough fall through.
The Bottom Line
Considering that this is an inexpensive purchase with a lot of uses in the kitchen, it should be something that you check out if you cook pizzas on a regular basis or are currently unhappy with your wire racks for cooling off cookies or baked items. I use this screen for making calzones, garlic bread, nut rolls and of course different types of pizzas. This makes quick work of cooling off baked goods as well as a work surface that can be moved from one part of the kitchen to another. Cover it with tin foil and it can double as a makeshift serving tray or when you are making any type of dipped dessert such as chocolate covered strawberries. There are so many uses for this that might wonder how you ever did your baking without it. Two freaky thumbs up for this miracle pizza screen!
As always, thanks for the visit!
^V^ Freak ^V^
© 2003 Freak369
Other kitchen essentials
Oxo Black-Handled Meat Tenderizer
Pro Grip Large Tower Grater
Norpro Marble Mortar and Pestle
Sunbeam Jumbo Oven Thermometer