This Pumpkin Pizza Would Be Right at Home on Your Thanksgiving Table
Turkey may not have made it onto the table if the Pilgrims had known about Dan Richer's brilliant recipe
In the Connecticut pizza mecca that is New Haven, the white clam pie is the well-known offering that is responsible for consistently putting butts in seats in pizzerias all over town.
But at brick-oven establishment BAR there’s another pie, which Saveur once dubbed “the secret handshake” of the pizza scene in New Haven: mashed potato pie.
Mashed potato pizza sounds like a creation that one might make on one and only one day of the year, Black Friday, when fresh Thanksgiving leftovers are plentiful, but the restaurant serves it up year-round to in-the-know locals.
Given the level of consumption on Thanksgiving, chowing down on a starch-on-starch offering the day after Turkey Day sounds rather unappetizing. So we reached out to Dan Richer, the author of The Joy of Pizza: Everything You Need to Know author and owner of Jersey City pizzeria Razza, and asked for a recipe for a Thanksgiving pie that does not include mashed potatoes. Richer obliged, with a recipe for a pizza he came up with nearly a decade ago that can be made with pumpkin or squash.
“While pizza is not the first thing you think of during Thanksgiving, it’s a great addition to a turkey-filled weekend. Our pumpkin or winter squash pie is perfect for Thanksgiving weekend, with sweet and savory flavors of roasted squash, caramelized onions and ricotta salata,” Richer tells InsideHook. “We finish the pizza with a touch of grated nutmeg to seal the deal on this fall classic.”
Even though pizza isn’t really regarded as seasonal food, Richer points out there’s really no reason that it can’t be.
“Winter in New Jersey is filled with root vegetables and other crops that store well during a long cold winter,” he says. “Winter squash season is fall but since they store so well we utilize them all winter long. It supports our farmers here in Jersey when they don’t have much growing in their fields, providing them with a bit of extra income. We’re always inspired by ingredients and look to them to dictate our pizza toppings. Pumpkins and winter squash are available to us all fall and winter so we ran with it.”
And the pizza can be used as a vessel for Thanksgiving leftovers — just not mashed potatoes.
“I don’t love the texture of puréed or mashed ingredients on pizza,” Richer says. “I prefer a potato that’s been roasted or boiled rather than mashed. Cranberry sauce would make a great addition to this pizza if you have extra in your refrigerator. It provides a bit of sweetness and acidity that would complement the pizza well, plus the color is a glorious addition.”
Find out for yourself.
Dan Richer’s Pumpkin Pie
Ingredients for the roasted pumpkin
- 1 (approximately 2-pound) heirloom pumpkin or winter squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into ½-inch cubes
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1% salt by weight
- Use any pumpkin or winter squash, as long as they are easy to peel. Some of my favorites are Blue Hubbard, Delicata and Honeynut.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Combine the pumpkin with enough olive oil to coat on a half-sheet pan and roast for 40 minutes, until it pierces easily with a knife and just starts to brown.
- Weigh the pumpkin and season with 1 percent salt by weight.
- Cool completely. The roasted pumpkin will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for three days.
Ingredients for the pizza
- Dough for 1 round 12-inch pizza
- 100 grams fresh mozzarella, torn or cut into 1-inch pieces
- ½ cup Roasted Pumpkin
- ¼ cup caramelized onions
- Coarse sea salt
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons Homemade Breadcrumbs (page 217)
- Freshly grated ricotta salata
- 1 grate of whole nutmeg
- Preheat the oven to 500°F.
- Stretch the dough out and transfer to a floured peel.
- Distribute the mozzarella, pumpkin and onions evenly to the edge of the raised border. Season with salt and drizzle with olive oil.
- Once the oven is completely and fully preheated, grip the peel with your dominant hand and open the oven door with your other hand. Land the tip of the peel about a half-inch from the far edge of the stone or steel. Pull the peel swiftly away, cautiously allowing the dough to fall into place.
- Close the door and turn on the oven light. The pizza needs to bake for 6 to 7 minutes. Set a timer for 3 minutes. Check the pizza at the 3-minute mark to inspect the oven spring and rim caramelization. The rim should be prominently raised and caramelization should be in progress — meaning the rim will be beginning to brown. Most ovens have hot spots, so if you see one part is cooking more quickly than another, slide the peel underneath the pizza and use your fingers or tongs to reposition it so the pizza cooks evenly, then close the door quickly.
- The pizza should be baked and the toppings should be melted or cooked within 6 to 7 minutes total, but use your intuition to tell when the pizza is done and remove it from the oven.
- Dust with breadcrumbs and the ricotta salata
- Grate over the nutmeg and serve immediately.
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