The Ultimate Thanksgiving Leftovers (Pan) Pizza
You can use any ingredient any way you like on pizza, of course. But one key to making a truly great seasonal and thematic pizza using ingredients not traditionally associated with it is to rethink their application as toppings. In concert with that? Reinterpret the original dish, balance the flavours, and try not to go overboard. These are core tenets to apply when thinking about how to make the Ultimate Thanksgiving Pizza.
To take something that could just be a kitchen sink pizza and turn it into one almost worth making an entire Thanksgiving feast out of, we turned to a pizza purist, a pizza maker who would typically never engage in schtick, Thomas DeGrezia of Sofia Wine Bar in New York City for a considered philosophical approach. DeGrezia’s pizza pedigree stretches back to his grandfather’s well-known Bensonhurst, Brooklyn slice shop J & V Pizzeria (established 1955).
“I’ve always considered myself a pizza maker who sticks as close to tradition as possible,” DeGrezia said. “Perhaps it’s a fault instilled in me by the older generation of pizza makers who inspired and taught me. So when Ooni’s Head of Content, Arthur Bovino, asked me to make the Ultimate Thanksgiving Pizza, my initial reaction was: No. Why would you do that? And not gonna happen. But Arthur also knows how much I love Thanksgiving and that I can’t say no to a challenge. So when he said, ‘I know you wouldn’t normally ever make this pizza, that’s why I want you to make it,’ I couldn’t say no.”
Because this pizza is meant to be something anyone can do using their own Thanksgiving leftovers, this recipe is a little more about philosophy, ratio, technique and application than how to make the main dishes for which the American holiday is known. Consider the following approaches. Round or square? Should there be tomato sauce? How should the cheese be applied? Do gravy and cranberry sauce have a place? How do the turkey and stuffing get applied? And do any other leftovers belong?
For Tommy, it’s all about one of the best parts of Thanksgiving, the leftovers sandwich, and thinking about this pizza as “a baked, open-faced sandwich on pizza dough.” That means a square pan pie, which you can make in a 16 by 16-, 14 by 14- or 12 by 12-inch pan in Ooni ovens (depending on which model you own) or in a 12 by 18-inch pan in your home oven. Tommy’s recipe for Grandma Dough needs to be made two to three days before you bake. But you can stretch Ooni’s Classic Pizza Dough (or store-bought dough) out in a pan to great effect.
Mashed Potatoes “Our base. Regardless of how you make your potatoes, to transform them for pizza, they need to be extra creamy. Mine follows one rule: a stick of butter per potato. Yes, you read that correctly, one to one. Essentially, it’s a Robuchon purée [the late, great French chef Joël Robuchon’s signature dish: Purée De Pomme]. If your potatoes are not smooth and silky, add butter. Lots. The best way to do this is to melt one stick of butter at a time and whip it into the leftover potatoes until they’re a silky-smooth mixture that’s easily spreadable. You’ve never invited me over for Thanksgiving, so I’ve never had your potatoes. My advice? Start by adding two to three sticks of butter. Once they’re fully combined, mix two cups of shredded cheese (preferably Monterey Jack and cheddar) into the potato mixture and blend until well incorporated.”
Stuffing “Not much needs to happen except to keep it out at room temperature, so it crisps in the oven. I make a traditional veggie stuffing (mushrooms, onions, and celery sautéed in butter) but you should make yours the way you always do. This is all your favorite flavours being present in each bite. The key is to not use too much and to add the stuffing to the pizza halfway through the bake.”
Turkey “Everyone makes theirs differently, and I’m not going to tell you how to make yours. My only suggestion is about how to store whatever is leftover Thanksgiving night after dinner. Shred a pound of whatever you’ll be using (white, dark, or a blend) and store it submerged in gravy (or any natural juices from cooking) in a container. This will help keep the meat extra moist when it comes in contact with the intense heat of the oven while baking. If you forgot to do that, just shred the turkey and submerge it in gravy when you take the ingredients out of the fridge to prepare the pizza.”
Ham “I know not everyone bakes a ham on Thanksgiving, but if you have, it adds a wonderful contrast. I bake mine with honey and pineapple juice, and like the turkey, when I put aside the ham for this pie, I stored it in its juices. If you have deli ham (honey-baked or otherwise) use it. Remember to cut the ham into small (penny-sized) squares and remove unwanted fat.”
Gravy “My gravy runs thin. For this pie, it should add moisture but not be too runny (and definitely not goopy). For the right consistency, I suggest adding it to a saucepan with a half cup of red wine for a flavour boost and reducing it until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.”
Cranberry Sauce “This is one of the most boring parts of Thanksgiving to me, and it’s a tricky thing to add to pizza whether you go fresh or canned because of the way it looks. I make mine fresh but just use the recipe on the back of the bag (one bag of cranberries, one cup of water, one cup of sugar). Either way, I suggest mixing whatever cranberry sauce you served at Thanksgiving with orange juice (I used two blood oranges, but you can use regular OJ) over heat just until it’s a loose mixture, and then straining before using it as a post-bake drizzle or dip.”
Hot Honey “A little drizzle along the edge of the crust adds a nice accent.”
To recap: Loosen your mashed potatoes with several sticks of butter, then mix the cheese into it. Add the stuffing (not too much) mid-bake. Shred your turkey and submerge it in gravy. If you’re considering a non-standard topping, make it ham. Reduce your gravy til nappant. Pass a juice-loosened cranberry sauce through a sieve. And drizzle the crust with hot honey (make your own!).
“As much as I don’t want to admit it,” Tommy added, “I would totally make this pizza again to extend the eating on what is my favorite holiday, one that’s not about gift-giving but company and great food. I hope you enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving.”
1 hr 20 minutes (active), 3 hours (passive)
Makes one pan pizza
Ooni Pizza Oven
Ooni Infrared Thermometer
1 40 by 40, 36 by 36, 30 by 30, or 30 by 46cm pan (see headnote)
1 wide spatula or fish turner
Ooni Pizza Cutter Wheel or Pizza Cutter Rocker Blade
680 g Classic New York Grandma Pizza Dough Ball
Extra-virgin olive oil for greasing the pan
454 g turkey, shredded (preferably stored submerged in gravy)
220 g butter, melted
544 g mashed potatoes
118 g Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
118 g Cheddar cheese, shredded
473 ml gravy
118 ml red wine
473 ml cranberry sauce
Juice of 2 blood oranges (or ½ cup of orange juice)
220 g chopped ham
Hot Honey, to garnish
340 g of stuffing
An hour before you place the dough in the pan, remove it and all your toppings from the refrigerator, so they reach room temperature.
It’s time to stretch the dough out in the pan — this may take up to 40 minutes, resting halfway in between. Lightly coat your pan with olive oil. Place the dough in the pan and, using the tips of all your fingers to dimple and press outward, begin to stretch it out to the edges. Gently flip the dough and repeat. Rest the dough, then dimple and stretch the dough out to the edges, pulling the dough out to the very edge of each corner. Gently press the dough up against the edges of the pan to create the crust, and rest for another 30 minutes.
Shred the turkey and soak it in gravy if this has not already been done. Mix the melted butter into the mashed potatoes until it is completely absorbed, then add in the cheese and mix thoroughly.
In a saucepan over medium heat, add the gravy and red wine, reducing them to a nappant mixture.
In a saucepan over medium heat, add the cranberry sauce and juice. Cook for 5 minutes until thoroughly mixed and somewhat reduced. Pass through a sieve and reserve the liquid for dipping and a post-bake drizzle.
Fire up your Ooni pizza oven. Aim for 288°C on the stone baking board inside.
Spread the mashed potato and cheese mixture evenly over the surface of the stretched dough. It’s easiest to do this using two spoons (to scoop, scrape and gently press down) or small handfuls (about 65 grams each). Make sure it’s flat and spread out in a thin layer out just shy of the crust.
Evenly distribute the pieces of chopped ham on top of the mashed potatoes, leaving enough space between the pieces so you can see as much potato as ham.
Drizzle the crust edge of the pizza with hot honey, then place the pie in the oven and bake it for 10 minutes. If using your Ooni oven, be sure to maintain a low flame and turn it halfway through). Once the crust has risen and begun to brown, remove it from the oven and place it on a heat-resistant workspace to finish building the pizza.
Starting with any open spots, distribute the shredded turkey evenly over the surface of the pizza. Next, evenly top the pizza with rows of small dollops of stuffing (aim for 8 rows of 5 dollops). Return the pizza to the oven for 6 minutes (or until the crust is golden brown). If using an Ooni, turn halfway through.
Carefully remove the pizza from the oven and then use a wide spatula or fish turner to depan it to a cutting board. Using a ladle, spread thick lines of gravy along the entire pizza (don’t be shy). Drizzle the cranberry sauce over the pie (don’t overdo it, this should be an accent). Slice (3 by 4 squares for a 40 by 40cm pan and 2 by 4 squares for a 30 by 46cm pan) and enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving!