One of the guiding principles of my life is this: You can microwave anything.
Pretty much every frozen fast food has microwave cooking instructions as well as oven instructions.
Most chicken wings packages don’t offer a microwave option but believe me — You can DEFINITELY microwave every brand of chicken wings I’ve come across as long as you heat them up enough not to kill you.
Only joking, but you know what I mean — chicken wings have to be HOT in every sense of the word.
So why do NO frozen pizzas have microwave instructions?
Pizza in the microwave looks pretty good. Ignore the splatter.
Pizza seems a natural. Everything similar from hot pockets to burritos is microwaveable. So why not microwave pizza?
I’ve always planned to try it, just to see what would happen. I’m a natural explorer … a damn fool in many, many ways, but a natural explorer.
Last night was the perfect opportunity: I had already eaten dinner before grocery shopping and I got a good sale on a brand of pizza I like a lot — Dr. Oetker Casa di Mama New/Nouveau Ultimate Spicy Pepperoni Epice Pizza, if you must know.
(What’s Dr. Oetker going to do — sue me? I just said he/they make a great pizza and I’m definitely NOT following their instructions. I know the law, kids. I’m a “veteran journalist” — see above.)
So I figured, Why not? The worst that can happen is that a wad of dough and goop explodes in the microwave.
To be honest, I was a little nervous. After all, why WOULDN’T they have some kind of microwave instructions, or at least a warning: UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES TRY TO MICROWAVE THIS WAD OF DOUGH AND GOOP.
When I thought that one through it made me feel a little better. They DIDN’T have a legal-liability warning on the packaging, they weren’t actually saying it was DANGEROUS to microwave a pizza … they just didn’t say anything at all, just pretended like the microwave doesn’t exist.
Well it does and the microwave is my friend, so I decided to feed it a pizza and see what happens.
The oven instructions for the Dr. Oetker Casa di Mama New/Nouveau Ultimate Spicy Pepperoni Epice Pizza (in for a penny, in for a pound) say 480F/250C for 12-14 minutes.
Translating baking instructions
Since I speak microwave-ese, I know that means high for, oh, starting point … half the minimum time … six minutes.
A watched microwave seldom explodes, so I put it (pizza) in and turned the other it (microwave) on and waited … and watched my watch and the microwave, and smelled for anything out of the ordinary and completely ignored Anderson Cooper talking about O.J. Simpson’s new digs in the desert.
(Oh, by the way, CNN says the Depression could well be over in a couple of months instead of years. Just in case you missed it.)
At about the four-minute mark I couldn’t take it any longer. There was a nice cooking smell but I had to SEE what was happening in the nuclear fishin’ chamber.
And this is what I saw: The dough was swelling like Michael Yiptong’s face when he accidentally eats shellfish, but the whole thing still looked rather pale and pasty like Perry Cadesky’s face when he eats seafood of any kind.
(Fishermen of the world, take your complaints up with Yiptong and Cadesky for their irrational allergies/culinary aversions, not me. I loooooove seafood. Except cod, but that’s another story.)
So — remember, swollen dough but still pale and pasty — I decided to do another three minutes on high.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
Three minutes later, the pizza’s looking better but still not quite right. At least the swelling had stopped (believe me, that’s almost always a good sign).
I decided to do three minutes more, which brought the total time in the microwave up to 12 minutes, the minimum time allocated for a regular oven.
Tick… oh, never mind.
Being the eternal optimist, I figured, “Dr. Oetker knows it takes the same time to cook a pizza in the oven as it does in the microwave, but the oven gives it that nice browned, crisped quality, so why even bother with the microwave.”
And, to a certain degree, that was true.
At the end of 12 microminutes, the pizza looked good, almost as good as the packaging. See photo (ignore the gnarled spots on the real pizza where pepperoni slices were ripped off before I thought to take the picture).
Looks good enough to eat. Really.
The only problem was the packaging was more edible than the microwaved pizza.
The pizza I pulled out of the microwave was rock hard, a slab of concrete that would break any knife or roller-cutter that tried to penetrate its bulletproof hide.
Smile for the camera, pizza face
The pepperoni was fine (pepperoni and cockroaches will survive a nuclear armageddon) but everything else was superblasted magma.
I wasn’t going to smash a wall to prove the pizza’s indestructibility but, believe me, no wall would be a match for that pizza’s Ironman pedigree.
So there you have it. Frozen pizzas don’t have microwave instructions because a microwaved pizza is … inedible.
The end of a beautiful relationship
(My dear friend, the fabulous cook and food writer Rita DeMontis, tells me there is one brand of frozen microwave pizza, but you have to go through all sorts of contortions with the box to make it work. That flies completely in the face of the microwave’s essential slacker essence.)
The first person to come up with a truly easy microwaveable pizza is going to be very, very rich.
I know Dr. Oetker is on the case over in his Batcellar in Germany.
But where’s the North American champion? Where’s the spirit of Thomas Edison and Suzanne Somers? Can’t someone on this side of the Atlantic squeeze their thighs together enough to make a microwave pizza?
The world waits with bated breath.