I have a feeling I’m about to get very long-winded here. Bear with me.
No, this isn’t Thanksgiving pizza of the sort you order because the would-be-centerpiece-to-the-meal ends up a blackened poultry carcass covered in fire extinguisher foam.
No, this is the kind of pizza you make if you were trying to skip the turkey all together and just wanted all of the essence of Thanksgiving-in pizza pie form.
It’s also the kind of pizza you might make if you are a sucker for buying irresistibly luscious-looking figs from a street vendor before remembering, oh yea, I don’t even really like figs that much. But all of a sudden, there you are. A sleeping baby on your chest and 25 kuai worth of figs in your hands.
The first thought that popped into my head was a flat bread. You know, that totally cliche (but delicious) figs-caramelized-onions-bacon-blue-cheese flat bread thing that was trendy at restaurants about 10 years ago.
But I felt like going for something a little more out-there.
So, while bouncing a baby who-omg-after being put to bed by his father EVERY SINGLE NIGHT OF HIS LIFE has decided that he can not, will not go to sleep unless it is 11pm and he’s in Mama’s arms, I thought about how to make my not-restaurant-cliche-pizza and what sort of sauce could possibly elevate the dish.
And then I remembered a pumpkin pizza our good friends at Mike’s Pizza Kitchen have started whipping up recently with garlic and goat cheese and onions and cashews. It’s more Sichuanese than Thanksgiving, but it proves the concept of pumpkin on pizza works.
Then I remembered the delicious pumpkin experiment I made last weekend in which I first roasted some pumpkin with brown sugar then dumped it in a pot with sauteed onions and chicken broth, then added all manners of Thanksgiving-y spices like ginger and nutmeg and cloves and I ended up with Thanksgiving…mush. I was aiming for soup but what I got was an outstandingly delicious thick puree that I had no clue what to do with.
But then I bought some figs, made some pizza dough, and voila! The beginnings of Thanksgiving on a pizza.
And then I went a little crazy on the concept. I made some balsamic glaze (aka I boiled the sh*t out of some vinegar until it turned into syrup), I caramelized some onions, I browned some sausage, I bought some surprisingly good Chinese blue cheese, and some of the delicious (and deliciously affordable) walnuts that are available at every fruit stand right now.
And then, we experimented.
Turns out Thanksgiving pumpkin mush with figs and walnuts, copious amounts of caramelized onions, a drizzle of balsamic and a dash of blue cheese is…..good. Really good.
The pumpkin is savory in this case, and deliciously so. The sweetness of the figs and the onions balances the salty pungency of the blue cheese. The balsamic cuts the richness and the walnuts, oh the walnuts. Don’t think of leaving those out. They add crunch but also a delicious toasty-bitter finish that pulls the whole thing together.
There’s a lot going on here but it works. And if you don’t feel either a) uber sophisticated or b) totally satiated and ready to watch an afternoon of football and a parade afterwards, then well, I just don’t know what to do with you.
Thanksgiving Pizza (makes 2 pizzas)
Ok, so it could be argued that some dried cranberries and turkey sausage would make this a real Thanksgiving pizza, but I’m going to let myself off on the technicality of DUDE THIS IS PUMPKIN ON A PIZZA. And the fact that it tastes really, really, really good. But, if you try it with dried cranberries and turkey sausage, do let me know how it goes.
2 balls of pizza dough (approximately 6 oz) Because I live in the ‘Du and Mike doesn’t sell raw pizza dough yet (hint, hint), I make mine from scratch. Should you live somewhere with access to store-bought, by all means, buy all means…
1 quarter cup Thanksgiving Mash You could cut up some pumpkin, roast it, then puree it with some spices and chicken broth and onions OR you could probably use some pumpkin pie filling or canned pumpkin and doctor it up to achieve something more savory than sweet. It’s totally your call…
1 onion roughly chopped and caramelized You can caramelize your onions a few days in advance if you like. Just go low and slow, add a little bit of sugar, a little bit of salt, a little bit of water to keep things from sticking to the bottom of the pot, and cook for 40 minutes to an hour, stirring every once in awhile.
1 Tablespoon balsamic glaze or balsamic vineagar
5 figs, skinned and sliced
1/4 (scant) Cup blue cheese, crumbled (less is more here)
1/4 Cup-1/2 Cup Walnuts, roughly chopped
1. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, put it in when you turn on the oven.
2. Dip you hands in flour and stretch your pizza dough across the back of a cornmeal-sprinkled baking sheet (or pizza-slider-thingy if you are fancy) to approximately 12 inches in diameter.
3. Using the back of a spoon, gently spread a thin layer of pumpkin/Thanksgiving mash across dough. If your oven gets hot enough to handle dollops of sauce without creating a pocket of raw dough underneath, by all means, dollop!
4. Lightly drizzle balsamic over pumpkin sauce.
5. Sprinkle nuts, onions, fig pieces all around.
6. Top with a bit of blue cheese, a little goes a long way.
7. Either transfer your pizza to your pre-heated pizza stone or put baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 8-10 minutes until crust appears done, cheese is melted, and toppings are bubbling and sizzling.