Note from El Equipo: We think you should definitely make and eat this Cuban pizza recipe. Well, don’t eat the recipe. Eat the Cuban pizza.
Last month, my friend Keisha and I were hired to help cater a wedding in South Miami. On our way to the event, I noticed we were close to Hialeah, a predominantly Cuban neighborhood. We only had twenty minutes before anyone would notice that we were running late, so we took a slight detour to the restaurant Polo Norte, established in 2005. Polo Norte reminds me of the diners in the Northeast: you walk in and there’s a service counter with stools and lots of booths lining the walls. The walls are decorated with large paintings of old Cuba and vintage travel posters of Havana. The background noise is midday noticias on the TV and orders called out in Spanish.
No one knows for sure how Cuban pizza originated — some say it was during the 1930s when a large wave of Italian immigrants came to the island…
Luckily for us, we didn’t go during the rush. We sat at the counter and ordered a frosty beer and a Cuban pizza topped with picadillo, a Cuban-style hash made with ground beef simmered with tomatoes, olives, and plenty of garlic. No one knows for sure how Cuban pizza originated — some say it was during the 1930s when a large wave of Italian immigrants came to the island, and the Italian recipes intermingled with local ingredients creating a Cuban pizza. Others say the pizza was invented in Varadero, a beach town east of Havana.
The dough is pillowy and chewy. The edges are golden brown, crunchy and cheesy, the bottom has a thin crunchy layer, yet sturdy enough to hold the pizza together.
This was Keisha’s first time having a Cuban pizza and I was beaming with the anticipation. Polo Norte’s pizza arrived in less than ten minutes and we inhaled the entire pie. The crispy cheesy edges and the picadillo with a little olive surprise in each bite was totally worth the detour before our event.
The crispy cheesy edges and the picadillo with a little olive surprise in each bite was totally worth the detour…
I live 45 minutes from Hialeah and the traffic is usually bumper to bumper, making the trip is a major hassle unless I’m working in the area. So whenever I have a craving, I’ll invite some friends over and have a little pizza party — most of the ingredients are store-bought and I add whatever leftovers I have in the fridge: extra picadillo, sweet plantains, or mushrooms are great pizza toppings!
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Jami’s Cuban Pizza Recipe
This thin-crust Cuban pizza recipe is no-fuss and super easy to make. My personal favorite toppings are sweet plantains or crumbled chorizo. Whatever you want to top it with, from picadillo to pork, this is the base recipe to get your pizza out of your oven.
You will need:
- Pie Pan
- Rolling pin
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 1 (16 oz) package of store-bought pizza dough, divided into 4 pieces
- 1 cup pizza sauce (or your favorite jarred pasta sauce)
- 2 cups shredded Gouda cheese
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 375F
Spray the bottom inside of the pie pan with olive oil cooking spray. Flour your work surface and rolling pin, then roll out one of the dough pieces. Make sure the dough is big enough to fit into the pie pan.
Place the dough into the pie pan and top with 2 tablespoons of pizza sauce. Spread evenly around the pizza.
*Topping Alert* If you’d just like cheese, keep going. If you’d like to add picadillo, pork, ham, mustard sauce, pickles, plantains, chorizo or any other toppings, now’s the time, before adding the cheese.
Next add the Gouda cheese and top with mozzarella cheese. Cover the entire pizza with cheese. This pizza does not have the same “crust” as a typical pizza. And by adding the cheese to the edges you will create a crispy cheesy edge.
Bake for 10–12 minutes. The pizza should be golden brown along the edges and the cheese completely melted.
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