Create two different styles of bagel pizzas using only ingredients found in the Corner Store and cooked using only a microwave. One pizza must be a classic style pizza, composed of red sauce, cheese and any traditional pizza toppings. The second must be a more experimental design comprised of any ingredients of the competitor’s choosing. Each pizza will be judged by an independent group of five taste testers, after which a winner will be declared.
Given my copious, first-hand knowledge of the microwave’s tendency to turn anything that has the misfortune of being put into it into a soggy mass of unevenly, heated grossness, I opted to give my bagel a preliminary dry run in the radiation box. The thought here was that this first spin would evaporate some of the water in the bagel, providing a dash of structural stability come cookin’ time. To create the traditional pizza, I combined Prego’s traditional sauce, pepperoni and grated mozzarella cheese. To lend a splash of originality, I also added a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on top.
For my non-traditional attempt, I combined Dinosaur Bar B Que sauce with chunks of chicken and topped it off with mozzarella.
Without Jamie’s extensive knowledge of microwave ovens, I immediately started piling toppings on my bagel, hoping that the toppings, rather than their treatment in the microwave, would make the difference. To that end, I opted to use a fancier Prego garlic sauce, but kept the standard mozzarella and pepperoni that Jamie used. Without any real knowledge of how long to put it in the microwave, though, I tossed the bagel in, spun the dial to roughly where I thought it should go, and hoped for the best.
For the non-traditional attempt, I opted for a downright evil combination of A1 steak sauce, roast beef and mozzarella cheese. This idea sounded decent while pondering ingredients at the Corner Store, but would prove to come with its own share of problems later. Seeing that my traditional pizza was looking a little overdone, I actually thought about cooking duration for this one and chose a more forgiving amount of time in the sweat box.
Coming out of the microwave, the pizzas looked roughly the same. As soon as knife touched bagel, though, the difference became obvious. While Arn’s bagel had a rubbery, tough to cut texture (similar to a Bagel Bite), Cahill’s cut with unnerving ease. Both textures were less than pleasant to chew, and it quickly became apparent that Arn’s was the favorite among the tasters. “It’s like comparing rubber to shit. Rubber wins,” explained judge Derek Kreider, a first year Physics major. Cahill’s choice of sauce did garner favor from Kreider and two of the other judges, but Arn’s pizza was unanimously declared the winner on the basis of texture alone.
While neither pizza fared particularly well in this grouping, Arn’s more sensible barbeque chicken pizza was the favored contender as tasting began. Cahill’s offering suffered from a fatal flaw: no matter how little A1 sauce was used, the steak sauce simply overpowered the toppings.
After declaring Arn’s pizza the winner, judge Zach Hoefler, a first year Game Design and Development major, had the dangerous idea of combining the two. While he admitted that the initial experience was unpleasant, the aftertaste was surprisingly good. Five minutes later, with the aftertaste still lingering, he had changed his tune. “It’s starting to burn,” he claimed.
Pizza bagels in the microwave needn’t be a bad thing. As Arn was able to prove, they can be at least as good as Bagel Bites, but more satisfying when made with better ingredients. Experimental microwave recipes, however, tend to be a mixed bag: When attempting to cook with minimal tools and ingredients (as us poor college students often do), it is best to keep things simple and let the pros with their fancy convection ovens handle the rest.