I agree with Nigella Lawson that post-Christmas leftovers are the best food in the world. For one thing, you can’t really enjoy your Christmas meal as there are far too many things going on: neighbors coming to call, a battalion of nephews and nieces clamoring for one’s attention, visits to one’s relatives, and parties left and right. Christmas food, in my opinion, is certainly best savored once all the hubbub has died down and you are left alone to eat in peace.
However, one other problem involving the Holiday feast is that there’s so much of it (and it just keeps increasing) between Christmas and New Year’s Day. One, of course, will be driven mad by culinary monotony – unless you put a creative spin on your cooking!
I took stock of what was in the fridge and found that, apart from a generous amount of roast pork and sliced ham in the freezer, I still had some fresh shiitake mushrooms left in the crisper along with some mozzarella cheese and pasta sauce. All were left over from an evening before Christmas when I fixed up a meaty pasta al forno for dinner.
So what does a girl do in light of this bounty before her? Why, bake up a pizza!
This nifty little number approximates the chewily thick-crusted pan pizzas sold at Pizza Hut. Mercifully, though, this one isn’t as greasy as the commercially available original and is very satisfying. The bready crust is crisp on the outside and deliciously stodgy within; plus it stands up well to all those toppings.
This is another of my laissez les bon temps rouler recipes in the sense that all that limits you is your own imagination. Indeed, you do not have to use roast pork, ham, and mushrooms. You can use shredded turkey or chicken in lieu of the pork; I would even recommend roast beef cut into thin slivers for some hearty robustness. Shredded Brussels sprouts and roast potatoes diced small would also be quite tasty. Mozzarella and the grated Edam [queso de bola] here can be easily replaced by the chopped up remains of your Christmas cheeseboard. As for the ham, you can easily replace it with any chopped-up sausages (leftover bacon-wrapped chipolatas are tasty and Spanish chorizos add a fiery touch) or cold cuts; just be sure to chop them up finely. Plus, you can even ditch the pasta / tomato sauce and lightly spread leftover cranberry sauce onto the doughy base instead.
Day After Christmas Pan Pizza
- 500 grams all-purpose flour
- 300 mL water
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil or rendered ham fat or lard
- 1 sachet fast-acting yeast
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 cup commercially prepared pasta sauce (I used Del Monte Four-cheese Spaghetti Sauce.)
- 1/4 cup salty ham, chopped finely
- 1 cup roast pork, diced small
- 1 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems and caps sliced thinly
- 1 red onion, peeled, halved, and sliced thinly
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 tablespoons finely grated Edam cheese (quezo de bola)
In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, yeast, and herbs. Heat the water and oil together in a heatproof bowl for a minute and a half on HIGH in the microwave. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the water mixture. Mix until well-combined. Knead for ten to twelve minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover with a clean dishcloth and allow to rise in a draft-free area for an hour.
Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and press it into a 12-inch in diameter cake tin. Cover with a dishcloth and leave to prove for five minutes. Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees / Gas Mark 7.
Remove the dishcloth from the proven dough. Push your fingers around the dough to make a thinnish edge about the circumference. Spread the pasta sauce evenly in the center. Scatter the toppings in the following order: sliced onion, mushrooms, ham, and roast pork. Evenly sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over the other toppings to ensure that everything is well-covered. Sprinkle over the grated Edam and pop into the oven.
Bake for ten minutes, then lower the temperature to 375 degrees / Gas Mark 5 and bake an additional fifteen minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for about two to three minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and slice up. Makes approximately eight generous slices, though you can slice the pie into thinner portions for lighter appetites.
I cannot begin to tell you how deliciously comforting a slice of this can be when served for dinner with a mug of creamy mushroom soup on a cold December night. 🙂