Guest Post By Justin Connors
I have a confession.
Before I became a father I never cooked a proper meal for myself…or for anyone else for that matter. Like most teenage boys I let my mom handle that, and then when I got married I was fortunate to marry a woman who is obsessed with cooking. I’m talking watching cooking shows and reading cook books in her spare time obsessed.
A few years into our marriage I had the epiphanous lightbulb go off in my heads (ok, more like warning alarms) and I realized that I should probably learn how to cook.
So I began my quest to teach myself cooking. I learned basic principals of cooking, what spices go with what dish, how to cook basic meats, and slowly but surely I learned! It is a skill I believe every single person alive should hone for themselves, but I digress. As you can imagine it has served me well into my parenting life, especially considering I became a stay at home dad once my son was born.
While I was self teaching I sort of became obsessed with a few different types of dishes, and studied and cooked them until I came up with my own secret recipes and methods like proper Mexican, proper BBQ, and proper pizza. In fact I went on to open a pizza stand at a market and placed third in a Canadian national pizza making contest! You bet I whip that fun fact out whenever possible.
With that said I want to teach you, the fine readers of TopDaddies.com, how to make the perfect 15 minute Margherita pizza for the next time dinner is up to you!
What You Need:
So you’re going to need a few things:
- One can of San Marzano whole tomatoes. This is the most important ingredient; I must stress the importance of these tomatoes. If they say D.O.P. on the can, then even better! I can find them at Costco or Walmart.
- Naan Bread packages. flavoured or non flavoured.
- Mozzarella (Of course!)
- Fresh Basil. Make sure it is fresh. No skimping.
- Hard Parmesan or Gran Padano (my preference)
Wooden Pizza Peel. This is optional but believe me when I say it is going to save you some headaches.
- Preheat the oven as hot as it can possibly go. Most ovens are 500-555. Believe me this is the biggest secret. Pizza needs to be cooked hot and fast.
- Open the can of San Marzano. Take them out one by one and hand crush them into a bowl. Make the chunks as small as possible. Put some of the canned tomato sauce they are packed in with it if you choose. You can puree if you or your family doesn’t enjoy the small chunks of tomatoes. People have begged me, nay pleaded with me, to release my tomato sauce recipe. They want to know the secret ingredient. The truth? It’s the tomato. Use a good can of San Marzanos. That’s it. Nothing added. Big secret eh?
- Place the Naan bread on the pizza peel and spread the tomato sauce lightly over it. The trick is not too much, not too little. With pizza less is always more. Why Naan bread? Well I have found it makes a great tasting dough and it really does the trick when you’re in a time crunch. If you want to use your own dough by all means use it. Just make sure to flour that peel!
- Do a thin light grate of Gran Padano and or Parmigiano-Reggiano over the sauce.
- Cut very thin slices of cheese off the Mozzarella and place it in dots around the pizza. Remember my rule from earlier, less is more. You want good coverage but not necessarily to cover the entire red sauce.
- Place in oven directly on the highest rack. Now you may be asking at this point “How do I know when it’s done?” The answer? When it’s done. It should only take 5 minutes or so to fully cook. You need to be constantly watching it and occasionally rotating it as it cooks.
- Roll up a fresh basil leaf and cut it in strips. I usually do this as the pizza cooks. I have a method.
- Pull the pizza out when cooked. The way to tell if it is done is by the melt and if the bottom is darkened or cooked. Naan bread won’t darken as much as dough so the melt is more important.
- Sprinkle the basil on, cut and eat while hot.
I promise you this will be one of the best pizzas you ever make and once you get the hang of it you will be able to get it done in 20 minutes start to finish.
Finally be inventive, come up with fun and inventive toppings with your kids. Most of all have fun!
Here are some pizza ideas that we came up while we owned our stand:
- Curried Pumpkin, Pesto and Ricotta (the award winner)
- Chicken, Feta, Spinach.
- Roasted Red Pepper, Pesto and Goat cheese.
- Pan fried pepperoni and cheese.
- 4 cheese
- Mushroom Garlic