Pie of the Week #10, 11, and 12
I really miss the large family thanksgiving meals we used to have. Seriously – we rented a school so we could fit everyone in! In just a few short years, it shrunk enough to fit in the second floor community room at Grandma’s retirement/assisted living place. Then, suddenly, completely gone.
The last few years, though, have replaced it with a more intimate gathering. Just my wife and me, going to my Mom’s to make something fun. Occasionally we’ll add in a friend without other plans – this year we had a friend and her child join us. We’ve done a whole turkey and all the fixings, chicken and noodles (a tradition borrowed from my Dad’s side/great aunt), Detroit style pizza, and more. This year, I brought over the Roccbox, and we did Thanksgiving pizzas.
I made 3 thanksgiving pizzas. Well, I actually made six, starting with a basic Margherita pizza (I’ve been growing a potted basil plant just for pizza use…). But I made three pizzas that were more thanksgiving themed.
Thanksgiving Pizza 1
The first themed Thanksgiving pizza used homemade cranberry sauce, provolone cheese, turkey breast, Brussels sprouts, homemade onion marmalade, and parmesan. All of the Thanksgiving pizzas were built on my standard quasi-Neapolitan crust. I’ve been pretty happy with it for several weeks. I was quite pleased with the cranberry sauce, which was quite simple to make and tasty. The Brussels sprouts really came out nice, with sweet, smokey char contrasting a tender bite with some firmness left.
I admit to copping out on the turkey. Rather than roast a turkey, or even just a turkey breast, when I would only be using a small amount, I opted to visit the deli counter at our local grocery store. It’s a small store in a tiny town that is probably too small to justify having a grocery. Yet their deli counter is outstanding. We’re lucky to have them, as the nearest chain grocery is 45 minutes from our farm.
The onion marmalade was a real winner. I can’t claim it as my own creation: I just used the recipe from Peter Reinhart’s book American Pie. I must admit to being a bit of a Reinhart fan boy. Still, if you’re reading this because you’re interested in making amazing pizzas yourself, I highly recommend it as a starting point. Even if his tastes for pizza (and general disregard for Chicago style deep dish) often run contrary to mine. He’s kind of coastal in his pizza preferences. It takes a good 45 minutes to make, but completely worth it! I’m eating some on a homemade bagel as I write this!
The overall result was delicious! The sweet and sour realm was well represented with the marmalade and cranberry sauce. The turkey and cheeses lent adequate salty. The twinge of bitter from the char on the Brussels sprouts and leopard spotting on the crust was a welcome top note among those more prevalent flavors. And the onion marmalade and turkey lent just enough umami to be satisfying. I could have this one all year!
Thanksgiving Pizza 2
The second thanksgiving pizza was not too dissimilar from the first, but enough to lend an air of festive feasting. This one featured the same cranberry sauce, mozzarella (both shredded and fresh), turkey breast, Italian sausage from Amor Gardens and Pork, red onions, Nabuka scallions, and the onion marmalade.
This one was extra-thanksgiving-y to me. The sausage brought about some of the flavors often associated with stuffing. I had considered making stuffing, just to make a thanksgiving pizza with gravy, mashed potatoes, turkey, and stuffing. I’m positive that would have been delicious! But once I opted not to make a turkey, that also nixed the gravy, and the rest is history…
I really appreciated the extra umami and salt lent by the sausage, and the allium twang from the onions and scallions. Using more local ingredients also keeps it closely aligned to my food ethics. This may be my favorite pie of the week yet! Still, using shredded real turkey breast, or maybe thigh, would make it better still.
Apple Cheddar Pizza
My final Thanksgiving pizza of the day was a desert pizza: apple cheddar. I actually made a similar pizza the first night we had the Roccbox, but it was dark so no photo. It’s a very simple, yet satisfying, end to a pizza feast.
It’s as simple as spreading apple pie filling on the crust, sprinkling over some extra sharp cheddar cheese, and baking. I just use the pie filling recipe from the Ball Blue Book, which any home gardener or locavore should have on their shelf. The apples came from Countryside Orchard and Garden. You could easily substitute a can of commercial apple pie filling, if you can find one with ingredients you like. It took about half a pint. Later in the week I made a similar pizza, with the addition of some of the cranberry sauce. So two pizzas uses one pint/can of filling.
The apple cheddar pizza is an outstanding way to finish a meal. it’s basically an apple pie, baked much faster.
The one made with leftovers a few days later looked like it would be spectacular. Instead, it became my first Roccbox disaster. The dough had already set out an hour, as I thought I might need it for Thanksgiving pizza. Then it was returned to refrigeration, and brought out yet again for leftover day.
That left a rather slack dough, and I didn’t realize that spreading the sauce was actually tearing through the crust. It was nearly impossible to shake off the peel, it stuck so badly. Really, it needed rolled and scrape off with a spatula. Once it was finally off, it was a tangled roll of dough and toppings oozing everywhere. So much sugar goo fell on the stone it actually caught fire! Meanwhile the lump of what had been pizza burned badly in places, yet was still raw dough in others.
I’ll probably try it again at some point, with dough that hasn’t been abused, because I do think it will be stunning, both visually and in flavor. Perhaps Christmas pizza?