From Too Many Chefs - www.toomanychefs.com

April 1, 2005
Family Secret Pizza Recipe for April 1

I really shouldn't be doing this, but in honor of the day exactly one month ahead of May Day, I'm going to reveal a family secret recipe.

Though he was Dutch and Irish, my father loved Italian food and he pretty much invented this pizza recipe. I'm sure you'll enjoy it just as much as I have over the years. In fact, I'll bet I've made this recipe as much as any other recipe I've ever tried, especially in college.

Do you like your pizza hot and gooey with a nice crisp crust? Do you prefer it slightly cold in the center with flakes of frozen cheese in places? Is your favorite pizza one with a "cajun blackened" crust and a deep dark mahogany to black cheese topping? You can easily adapt this recipe to produce any of those results. I've tried them all over the years and I can't decide which is my favorite.

Although I'll start you off with a simple cheese pizza, you can change the recipe just by varying the ingredients. Almost every other step remains the same. Try this early April treat and enjoy good some food!

Family Secret Pizza
Ingredients:
One frozen pizza, your choice of flavors

This is a complicated recipe so I'm going to go step by step with illustrative photos.

Here are the ingredients:

You know how people say 70% of cooking is good shopping? It couldn't be more true here. Try to pick a varietal that appeals to you. Heirloom pizzas from places like Totino's can be particularly interesting. Here I've chosen a simple Tombstone variety, similar to one served for decades, but I've decided to make it gourmet by selecting "Extra Cheese".

Before you can enjoy your pizza, we must peel it.

Discard of the peel safely.

This next step is my own personal addition to the process and I think it makes a big difference. That's why I never fail to perform this step. Wait 30 seconds, then reach into the trash and retrieve the peel so you can read off just how long the pizza is supposed to bake and at what temperature.

In this case, we're going to use a dry heat of 400 F for 14-17 minutes. Dry heat is important. I tried boiling the pizza once, and while it was better than most of my recipes, the pie just didn't have that pizzeria taste. I don't recommend it.

Let's warm up the oven, or, as Escoffier called it - "preheat". No don't be scared by that term. We use fancy French terms for much of cooking because they got there first with most preparations, but the process is really quite simple. On a standard oven with a dial designated in Fahrenheit degrees, turn the knob gently counterclockwise using the least dominant hand (in case of a gas explosion) until the mark above the dial lines up with the mark on the dial that corresponds to the number 400. Your preparation should look something like this -

Next, you should check to see if your pizza has a cardboard disk underneath it. Ours does. This is common in Chicago and most American cities.

On a Totino's or supermaket brand pizza, this would be known as the crust. I'm not a fan of cardboard, though you may be and you should feel free to use it in your preparation, so I tend to trim it from the pizza. Ah, but reserve it for a fancy serving suggestion later.

After about two or three minutes, place the pizza into the "preheated oven" directly onto the grill. Some use pizza stones but we'll save that for a future entry. If you have a barbecue grill, you might want to try the pizza on the grill during the summer. The charcoal should give it a nice smokey flavor, especially when the cheese falls into the hot coals and starts burning up.


Note that as you can see in the picture, the pizza will immediately glow with the white hot fire of a thousand suns. But don't be fooled, it's not done just yet.

Set a timer for 15 minutes and check the pizza when the timer goes off. I mean, set a timer for 15 minutes, press the button that makes it count down and then check the pizza. After 15 minutes. When the timer goes off. And you have to close the door to the oven. Before, I mean. Oh for Pete's- Let the pie sit in the freakin' oven for 15 minutes with the door closed. OK? Are you happy now?!!? For the love of-

After 15 minutes (watch it...), remove the pizza from the oven and serve.

If you want to impress your guests you may consider slicing the pizza before serving. If you trimmed the cardboard off the pie in an earlier step and reserved it, you're in luck here. Try dragging the pizza onto the reserved cardboard circle with a fork, and slice the pizza directly on the circle with a pizza cutter.

Fancy, eh? And, by removing the pizza from the oven directly onto a cardboard circle, you'll avoid the second-degree burns that come from removing the pizza from the oven with your bare hands. (I was very happy to discover this little trick on my own after years of using the other method.)

Eat immediately, then peel the little bits of burned skin off the roof of your mouth that form. These are known in Japanese as "tasty joy lesions". Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi enjoys some "tjl's" here:

I hope you've enjoyed this first day of the fourth month's post. Next week, check in when I give you ideas for great variety pizza when you want something really special, but don't have the ingredients for this Family Secret Pizza in the freezer.

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at April 1, 2005 12:11 AM | TrackBack
Comments

I had to call in my husband to read this because once, a few years ago, he failed to check for that cardboard disk before baking. Checking for the cardboard disk is a very important step. No matter what, he'll never live that one down.

Posted by Cam on April 1, 2005 at 12:36 AM

Oddly enough, I saw a show recently where Ainsley-the-chef-whose-last-name-I-always-forget was in Chicago and he cooked a pizza on a grill. It's amazing what these Brits think we get up to in the US!

Posted by Meg in Paris on April 1, 2005 at 4:57 AM

I haven't laughed so hard since ... well, for a long time. Thanks!

Posted by Julie D on April 1, 2005 at 8:10 AM
Eat immediately, then peel the little bits of burned skin off the roof of your mouth that form. These are known in Japanese as "tasty joy lesions."

In my family, these are known as fleshhangs.

I'm just saying.

Posted by Elsa on April 1, 2005 at 11:48 AM

Which wine goes well with a meal like this? I'm going with a nice 2004 box. What do others think?

Posted by Bryan on April 1, 2005 at 1:08 PM

Well, Bryan as you know I'm a big fan of local produce and producers. I'd have to go with a Thursday Chateau Carbondale, or possibly a good non-vintage Cote du Waukegan.

Posted by barrett on April 1, 2005 at 1:11 PM

April Fools Day is a l-o-n-g day, isn't it? :)

Posted by Sweetnicks on April 1, 2005 at 2:18 PM

Chiming in with a hearty thanks for the funniest post I've read in quite some time. I'll admit that I too always forget how long to cook the damn things, and have to re-read the label....

Posted by Seth Anderson on April 1, 2005 at 2:42 PM

Ah! Excellent post! One thing that might be noted though, I like to wait a little longer before fishing into the trash for the label. It's really ideal if someone has thrown the dustpan contents from sweeping the kitchen and the congealed bacon fat from the fridge in overtop.

-Elizabeth

Posted by ejm on April 3, 2005 at 5:31 PM

This is great now i have something to make on my birthday!APRIL 1 is the best day ever!!!!!!!!!:)

Posted by japana on September 5, 2006 at 1:06 PM

This is great now i have something to make on my birthday!APRIL 1 is the best day ever!!!!!!!!!:)

Posted by japana on September 5, 2006 at 1:07 PM

This is great now i have something to make on my birthday!APRIL 1 is the best day ever!!!!!!!!!:)

Posted by japana on September 5, 2006 at 1:07 PM

This is great now i have something to make on my birthday!APRIL 1 is the best day ever!!!!!!!!!:)

Posted by japana on September 5, 2006 at 1:09 PM

instructions on package "Instructions on back" this was on rim of the cover. looked every where on pkg. no instrucrtions that why I had to come to this site...

Posted by l wren on September 12, 2007 at 8:37 PM

I got lost at: "Discard of the peel safely."
The safely part threw me off.

Posted by Cristina on August 26, 2008 at 8:42 AM