- Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Snack
- Skill Level: Easy
- Cost: Inexpensive
- Favorited: 8 Times
By 11 a.m., people in Havana have begun to gather in front of the outdoor pizza stand of Juan Carlos and his daughter Olga Lidia. The tantalizing aroma of hot fresh pizza draws hungry apartment dwellers from a nearby complex. The pizza craze in Cuba, as Juan Carlos explains, began in the 1950s with the opening in Havana of Montecatini, a pizza parlor named after the famous Italian resort city. For Juan Carlos, who was a teenager at the time, going to Montecatini was a great treat. He began to help out at the pizza parlor and learned how to make his new favorite food. “Pizza,” he says, “is the perfect snack food for people on the go, delicious, economical, and quick enough to make fresh to order. Once you have the base, the only limit to the kinds of pizza you can make is your own imagination.”
In her small, simple kitchen set-up, Olga makes individual crisp, thin-crusted pies to order. The choices today are chorizo, onion, and cheese; ham, onion, and cheese; or plain cheese. As they are ready, she grips the edges of the piping-hot pizzas with small sheets of brown butcher paper and hands them to the waiting customers. The customers, in turn, fold their pizzas in half like a turnover and walk off eating them out of hand.
For the dough:
- 1 (¼-ounce) package fast-rising (instant) yeast
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 2½ to 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup olive oil
For the topping:
- 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 10 ounces Spanish chorizo or hard salami, thinly sliced
- 1 large or 2 small sweet yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 to 2½ cups shredded fontina, Colby, or Monterey Jack cheese
Make the dough: In a small bowl, combine the yeast with the sugar and 1 cup warm water. In a large mixing bowl, stir together 2½ cups of the flour and the salt. When the yeast begins to foam, make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the yeast mixture and 2 tablespoons of the oil. With a your hands or a wooden spatula, combine the wet and dry ingredients. Knead the mixture, gradually adding more flour, if needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Divide the dough into 4 to 6 equal portions.
Generously oil 4 to 6 metal pie pans, 8 to 9 inches in diameter. Roll out the portions of dough into rounds about ¼ inch thick and large enough to line the bottoms of the pans. Place the dough rounds in the pans and cover the pans with clean kitchen towels. Set aside in a warm, draft-free area to rise for 30 to 40 minutes.
Top the pizzas: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the tomato sauce on each dough round. Add a layer of chorizo and a layer of onion. Top with 2 to 3 more tablespoons of tomato sauce and about ½ cup of the cheese.
Bake the pizzas on the middle shelves of the oven until the crust is golden brown and the topping is hot and bubbling, about 15 minutes.
© 2006 Beverly Cox
This recipe serves 6. Nutritional information is based on using 2 1/2 cups of flour and 2 cups of shredded Jack cheese.