"THIS IS THE BEST WORST IDEA EVER."
Where the heck did SpaghettiOs pizza (with meatballs) come from? What sick mind would birth this idea?
Remember Hurricane Irene? While it turned out to be serious business for too many people, in NYC, where I live, it turned out to be a bit comical. People taped up windows, filled bathtubs with water, wrapped tinfoil around their heads. But one of the more interesting observations my wife and I made was that New Yorkers seemed to be using the incoming storm as one giant excuse to stock up on guilty-pleasure foods and take a vacation from sensible eating.
Ahead of my wife in line at our local supermarket was a woman buying pints and pints of Ciao Bella gelato and bags of pre-popped popcorn. And we used the opportunity to revert to childhood by grabbing a few cans of SpaghettiOs.
After the storm had passed, we had four gallons of spring water on hand and a couple uneaten cans of SpaghettiOs. (Like many a trip down taste-memory lane, ours confirmed after one shared can that SpaghettiOs should be left in the realm of childhood.)
Not wanting to waste food, though, I hit upon the idea of consuming it as a pizza topping. I mean, throw enough mozzarella on and a handful of good grated cheese, and it might not be half bad. Heck, it already has the sauce built in.
After an initial trial, I learned that simply trying to glop on the O's directly with the sauce is problematic. The O's stick to the dough and are difficult to distribute evenly, which means the sauce coverage is also spotty. So I strained the sauce from the pasta and applied it first.
This at least gave me an even coverage of sauce, and a lubricant to slide the O's around on top of.
I used about a sixth of the pasta O's in the pre-cheese layer and then sprinkled some good freshly grated Grana Padano on that.
To that I added a heaping handful of whole-milk mozzarella (Polly-O, if you're keeping score) and a little more than half the meatballs.
At this point I have to admit something horrible. For this pizza I wasn't just "eating down the pantry." We bought plain SpaghettiOs pre-Irene because the idea of canned meatballs is just ... shudder... ewww.
But when I thought about the WOW factor of plain O's vs. SpaghettiOs with Meatballs, I couldn't resist going for broke. If this turned out to be good, how could you not resist the idea of getting the sauce and two toppings—pasta and meatballs—in one can?
Here, you see that I've added a handful of decorative O's above the cheese. I was hoping they'd bake to a crisp-chewiness in the heat of the oven.
They didn't. If you've eaten SpaghettiOs at any point in your life, you know their texture. Gummy, mushy, perfect for anyone who can only eat soft food. In fact, you can practically drink a can of them. They're so moist that no amount of baking short of incineration would have crisped them up.
And the overall flavor? How can something so sickeningly sweet be so bland at the same time? Clearly I needed to use much more salt than my usual pre-bake dusting. And a whole lot more Grana Padano—or better yet, a more aggressively sharp or salty aged cheese. And that's before we even get into the whole metallic taste the can imparts.
I'd say it's the WORST WORST IDEA EVER. Even worse than "The Ultimate Cheeseburger Pizza" I did back in May.
In retrospect the lady stockpiling gelato and pre-popped popcorn proved to be the sane one.
About the author: Adam Kuban is the founder of Slice, where he has been blogging about pizza for more than eight years. Home Slice is his record of pizza experimentation at home. You can follow Adam as @akuban on Twitter.