Today’s guest post is brought to you by my cousin Brian Dahlen who lives on the South Side of Chicago with his wife and four young children. 
 
Brian is responsible for Friday suppers. He recently confessed to measuring out exactly six cups of water when making boxed macaroni and cheese and alluded to knowing how to make the perfect frozen pizza, so I invited him to share all 13 of his pizza-making secrets with photographic evidence. 
 

I’m not a chef. I’m not a cook either. But I’m a self-professed master of the frozen food arts.

Many culinary experts quickly dismiss frozen foods, and yet I guarantee they all make them. Frozen foods are what everyone makes when they don’t feel like cooking or eating out. Tragically, I’ve watched many good cooks completely butcher a frozen meal. They laugh-off the disgusting results and blame the food. I think we all know whose fault it is.

I’m here to stop the madness.

While I won’t reveal all of my frozen food preparation secrets, I’ll share the fundamentals needed to prepare the most popular of all freezer meals: The frozen pizza.

Brace yourself. Here’s my 13 step frozen pizza secret recipe:

  • STEP #1: Remove the battery from your kitchen smoke detector. My technique is guaranteed to set that thing off. At least once. So either get ready to scare your family, or just take out the battery. Only truly good frozen pizza chefs know about this step.
  • STEP #2: Don’t even think about making a DiGiorno. If you’re paying any more than $4.00 for a frozen pizza, you might as well just order one or go out for dinner. Be a cheapskate like me and buy one from Aldi. I like their Mama Cozzi’s Rising Crust pizza. Note the label on the front of the box that says “Real Cheese”. That’s the best kind of cheese.
  • STEP #3: Flip over the box and look at the directions. Someone put them there for a reason. Just because you’re a good cook doesn’t mean that you’re better than these directions. You’re not. Only masters of the frozen food arts know how to adjust these instructions. Keep reading and you’ll see.
  • STEP #4: Preheat the oven to the prescribed temperature (Review step #3 for more information).
  • STEP #5: Open two boxes of pizza. Everyone knows that one frozen pizza isn’t enough food for everyone.
  • STEP #6: Place both pizzas directly onto the oven rack. Don’t believe anyone that tells you about the magical powers of pizza stones or cookie sheets. They don’t know what they’re talking about. Those things will ruin your pizza. (Note: if you skipped step #1, it’s time to reconsider your terrible decision)
  • STEP #7: This is where it gets tricky. Set your timer for half of the maximum required time on the back of the box. Don’t ask questions yet. Just do it.
  • STEP #8: When the custom time from step #7 has elapsed, find two spatulas. After opening the oven, use both spatulas to rotate each pizza 180°. This will keep the outside edges from burning and it will make you instantly respect my spatula skills.
  • STEP #9: Grab a calculator. This part gets pretty intense. Determine the remaining cooking time from the back of the box, and subtract two minutes. Set your timer for this newly calculated numerical value, and try to resist turning on the oven light. Doing so only casts doubt on my masterful technique.
  • STEP #10: When the remaining time has elapsed, do not remove the pizzas from the oven. This would be a rookie mistake. Instead, turn on the broiler to 500 degrees. Yup – the broiler.
  • STEP #11: Don’t get nervous. There are no pre-determined cooking times here. Instead, check the pizza once per minute. Only when you’ve got some nice golden spots on the cheese is your pizza ready to be removed from the oven. Skipping this essential broiler maneuver will only result in cheese that isn’t totally melted.
  • STEP #12: Don’t even think about cutting it yet. Do you really want to ruin your pizza? For goodness sake, just wait a few minutes. My wife’s family has carried on this patient strategy for decades. They call it waiting for the cheese to “congeal”. Why question this time tested idea? Premature cutting will demolish the delicately thin layer of “Real Cheese” on your pizza.
  • STEP #13: Add a generous dash of crushed red pepper to each slice prior to consumption. This will remove any remaining frozen pizza flavor.
 I’ve successfully executed this procedure on frozen pizza dozens of times. If it doesn’t work, it’s all your fault.
 
Brian Dahlen is a former Minneapolis area public school history teacher who currently produces and guest hosts at Moody Radio Chicago. You can also connect with him on Twitter