Tweet Inspiration: Irish Pan Pizza

Sunday, April 18, 2010 75 comments
Flavors of Ireland, pizza-style

It turns out that sparking an international incident is as easy as pie.

At least, it's much less frustrating than my recent attempts to turn research, pictures and recipe into a written post. Blame it on Spring: as if being rewarded for enduring a particularly long and frigid winter, we've been enjoying lovely sunshine and uncommonly mild temperatures these past few days. I can't help but glance away from my laptop to stare through the window at our backyard, certain that a new leaf, a new bud or a new blade of grass appears with each blink. The acceleration of time is even more apparent when I turn back to my work and realize that I've daydreamed away most of the afternoon.

Of course, another culprit might be my compulsive need to check e-mail, Twitter, other blogs, the news, Twitter, the weather, YouTube videos of cute puppies, new recipes, Twitter . . . But in this instance, a severe case of online attention deficit disorder proved to be a positive. If it weren't for my twitchy need to monitor the goings-on of other people, I might have missed this tweet from Sophia of Burp and Slurp:

The linked LA Times article described the globalization of pizza - that is, how the concept of what constitutes a pizza has gone well beyond the tomato-sauce-mozzarella-and-pepperoni pie of common American acquaintance. Instead, nearly all components, from crust to sauce to toppings, have been adapted, adjusted and altered to reflect international and multicultural flavors. It was a crave-inducing read.

The next day, I noticed a flurry of tweets bearing the hashtag #pizzapie, which led me to the International Incident Party, a new monthly food event hosted by Melbourne blogger Penny of Jeroxie (Addictive & Consuming). And wouldn't you know it - this month's theme is to create a special pizza!

Cue the hallelujah choir and start parting the clouds: I immediately set aside that other post to focus instead on making an International Incident of pizza proportions. Typically, I was late to the party and by the time I decided to join, there was just one day left to cook up a post by this evening's deadline. After the LA Times article, I wanted to put a global twist on my pie and the next spark of inspiration for that came from yet another tweet from @tastetraveller of The Good Sandwich:

What does the Québécois delicacy, poutine, have to do with my pizza? Two words, my friends: 'potato' and 'gravy'. With these two elements in mind, my imagination took off from Canada, crossed the Atlantic and landed in Ireland, where I found all the makings for a different kind of pizza in Irish cheddar, bangers (sausages), farl (potato bread) and Guinness. And so, a Twitter-inspired trail has led to my contribution to the International Incident Pizza Pie Party. Be sure to grab a plate and help yourself to a slice or two!

Irish Pan Pizza

Thin and crispy, thick and chewy or something in-between, a good pizza starts with the crust. Thoughts of the french fries that form the basis of poutine reminded me of a recent, delicious discovery: Irish potato bread, or farl, courtesy of my dear blog friend, The Daily Spud. Buttery and tender, it's hearty enough to hold a layer of the rich gravy that takes the place of tomato sauce. Made with caramelized onions and Guinness stout, this deeply-flavored sauce is then topped with Irish pork sausage, leeks and Irish cheddar. Finally, instead of a pizza stone, our Irish pie is baked in a cast iron skillet for a new-style, old-country dish.

Makes a 12" pizza


Farl (potato bread) dough (recipe from The Daily Spud)
1/2 cup Guinness gravy (recipe below)
8 oz fresh pork sausage, casings removed
1 leek, sliced in 1/2-inch rounds and rinsed thoroughly
1/2 cup Irish cheddar, shredded (I used Kerrygold Dubliner)

In a fry pan or skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil and cook pork sausage, breaking into small pieces, until full cooked and browned. Spoon out sausage, leaving rendered fat and browned bits. In the same pan, add leeks and cook until just softened. Remove from heat and set aside with sausage.

Prepare Guinness gravy as below and set aside.

Prepare farl dough as directed by Daily Spud's recipe.

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack placed at upper level. Heat a large cast iron skillet but do not add any oil. Roll out farl dough to form a 12"-diameter crust, then place on hot skillet. **Cook until underside of the crust turns golden brown and toasty-looking. Dough will start puffing out but no need to deflate it. 

Add the pizza toppings, starting with the Guinness gravy on top of the crust, followed by about 1/3 of the cheese. Spread sausage and leeks evenly, then finish by topping with the remainder of the cheese.

Place skillet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until cheese begins to bubble and edges of crust turn golden. When done, remove skillet from oven and let sit for about 5 minutes, allowing the crust to firm up a bit before serving.

**The next time I make this pizza (and there will definitely be a next time!) I will grill one side of the farl as I did here. However, before adding the toppings, I will place the skillet in the preheated oven for about 5 minutes to allow the top side of the crust to bake a bit. This should give it more of the firm, traditional-pizza consistency.

Guinness Gravy
(adapted from The Guardian, Feb. '05)

1 Tbsp grapeseed oil
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 large white onion, diced very small (about 1/2 cup)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp flour
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup Guinness Stout

In a small sauce pan, heat chicken stock until reduced by about half. 

In a skillet or fry pan over, heat grapeseed oil over medium-high heat, then add butter. When melted, add onions and cook until softened. Add sugar and continue cooking until onions begin to caramelize. Add flour and stir well, then add hot chicken stock and Guinness to onion mixture. Stir well, scraping up browned bits, and cook until sauce thickens. Season with salt to taste.

Please check out Penny's International Pizza Pie Incident for a complete list and links to all of the partygoers!


  • Samantha said...

    I almost forgot you could cook pizza in a pan. I am definitely going to have to try out this one. I've been thinking about making my own pizzas recently, because I thought it might be healthier for me knowing exactly what was going into it. Thanks for the inspiration to get me cooking again. :-)

  • penny aka jeroxie said...

    I must try this pizza in a pan! And with Guinness Gravy, I am completely sold. I did have the idea of wanting to make a guinness pie but I got distracted. YUM YUM!
    Thanks again for joining us. Woohoo! I am glad that you made it :)

  • sophia said...

    Oh wow. So glad you made this. If I had the time and money, I would hold an international pizza feast, and make pizza variations from all over the world! And you MUST attend so that you can make this fabulous pizza for me again! >.<

  • ♥Sugar♥Plum♥Fairy♥ said...

    Oh this is so delightfull , the delights of Spring [ i love eating pizza At spring as muc as all thru the year:-)))], in this wonderful pizza with the super Irish flavs that blend so that gravy and the base too...
    a winner all the way...have a happy sunday....

  • WizzyTheStick said...

    Reminds me of a Bon Appetite post on Hot dogs from around the world that had me experimenting with hot Dogs. Pizza with gravy! Must give that a try some time. It looks delish

  • Caroline said...

    I find it difficult to resist Twitter, can't stay away from the darn thing. I think because I'm finding lots of inspiration there and meeting lots of inspiring people. Guiness gravy is something I'd like to try. Love your idea of a global pizza. Maybe next time a Filipino pizza using pandesal dough, kesong puti & longanisa topping? :)

  • Evelyne @ CheapEthnicEatz said...

    What a creative mix for one awesome pan pizza. I too only found out that morning about the party.

    I have to say, being a Quebecois, I am a little miffed at that comment of Quebecers not allowed for that poutine contest ;-)

  • Daily Spud said...

    What divine inspiration - I love it! I will now be thinking of what variations I can do on the farl-as-pizza idea - it opens up a whole world of possibilities :)

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Hope you all enjoyed this pizza and be sure to head over to Penny's site for a list of even more!

    Samantha - I only remembered as I put the farl in the skillet and realized that it could all be done at once! This is a great dough recipe because it doesn't take very long - no 'rising' required. So happy it's inspired you to cook! 8-)

    Penny - Happy Birthday and thanks so much for inviting me! Everyone's contributions are amazing - can't wait to try quite a few of them.

    Divina - I was so pleased with how it turned out, even though I'm still going to tweak it. We'll have to serve each other's pizzas - one for breakfast and the other for dinner!

    Stephanie - I hope you do! The cast iron pan gave the bottom of the crust a lovely, golden crispness.

    Sophia - And I'm so glad that you started it all with your tweet about that LA Times story! We will one day have that pizza feast, and not only will I make this, but I'll also have to try those Filipino versions that the story talked about. 8-D

    Mary - So happy you like it! I love my pizza stone but now it's got a rival. 8-)

    Conor - Thank you! As much as I like Guinness, I'll join you with the Irish whiskey!

    Cool Lassi(e) - Really? Aww, so nice to know that! 8-) One of the best things about blogging is being able to participate in events like this - it's such a great way to meet new friends!

    Anh - I'm going to craving pizza for weeks after seeing all the marvelous creations from everyone, especially your kimchi pizza!

    Emma - Honestly, I'm totally in love with both these components. I'm going to seize every excuse to smother everything in Guinness gravy and slap it onto farl! 8-P

    SugarPlumFairy - Happy Sunday to you, too, dear! Ireland is one of my favorite places so even though this isn't a traditional dish, it's a great way to enjoy the flavors.

    Mrs Lavendula - Thank you! It's been ages since I've visited you, hasn't it? I'd better see what you are up to!

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Chef E - I've fallen back in love with my cast iron skillet AND I have a new one that I purchased from Greg/Sippity Sup's Opensky store! I'll be skilleting all over the place. 8-)

    5 Star - I will happily swap a slice of this for your incredible sweet-savory wild plum pizza!

    Trix - Thank you and congratulations again for creating the official International Incident banner and badge! They're fantastic.

    WizzyTheStick - I hope you do because pizza with gravy turned out quite tasty! But you certainly know a thing or two about creative uses of Guinness - your entry to our Ice Cream Social last year was such a hit!

    Gaga - I had a fun time making it and my husband has asked for it again! Now I have plans to try the Guinness gravy on other dishes. 8-)

    BCGW - We usually have pizza every Thursdays: sometimes it's ultra-lazy frozen and other times, it's semi-homemade (premade crust). This is one of the very few times I've ever made pizza from scratch and it was well worth the effort!

    Jeanne - The potato dough idea came first and when I thought of doing an Irish-y theme, I was thrilled to learn about Guinness gravy! 8-)

    Susan - [LOL] I'm happy to serve you a plate (albeit imaginary!) But if I have an opportunity to cook at the market this summer, then you can have a taste for real! 8-)

    Caroline - What an awesome idea for a Filipino pizza! I love the idea of using pandesal dough, but I've never made it before so you may have to experiment first.

    Twitter does take up way too much of my time but it's worth it when it can provide me with a spark of an idea like this! 8-)

    Evelyne - There were a few other people who were last minute participants, but that's how great the idea was - we were all enthusiastic about making sure we made something in time!

    As for the Quebecois and poutine contest, it's so crazy! I read the article and it alluded to a Quebec provincial law that prohibits Quebecois from participating. But frustratingly, it didn't explain exactly what the law was and why! It makes no sense . . .

    Christine - You're welcome, although Sophia gets first credit for bringing it to my attention. As much as I love the idea of preserving culinary heritage, I think that cuisine is at its best when people are allowed to be creative with it!

    Daily Spud - I am so enamored of your farl recipe!! It is beyond delicious and cooked up so beautifully as a pizza crust (although next time, I will 'pre-bake' a bit more so that it's even more golden and toasty) I can't wait to see what you do with the whole idea! 8-D

  • Jenn said...

    Now I need a pizza fix after that. Maybe a Filipino version. Or something else my little mind can think up. But I do like this Irish inspired version quite a bit.

  • Phyllis said...

    I am loving the globalization of pizza! Having grown up on the westcoast, I am used to having a lot of crazy pizza toppings so imagine my surprise when I first moved to New York and saw that the locals ate plain cheese pizza! Your Irish pan pizza looks positively sinful - who could resist crumbled sausage and using potato farl as the crust is totally genius! Kerrygold dubliner is also one of my favorite cheeses although I can never seem to keep it around long enough to cook with it! And now you've got me imagining poutine smothered in Guinness gravy :)

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Cherrie - Thank you! This was such a fun event and I'm looking forward to dumplings. But I really should try and join in Kulinarya Cooking Club, too!

    Jenn - This whole thing was sparked by that LA Times article, which mentioned Filipino pizzas like sisig. But then it hinted that whatever resto served it was now closed! I look forward to seeing what creative toppings you come up with.

    Tigerfish - Thank you! When I thought about using farl, the rest just fell into place.

    Mark - The crust had a really nice chewy texture (although next time, I will try baking it for a few minutes to get the top a bit more browned). The gravy turned out so well - Guinness is a magic brew!

    Shirley - Thanks! The great thing about pizza is that you can take the components of nearly any dish and put it on a crust! 8-)

    Trissa - Thank you! It takes just the smallest spark to get me going. 8-) Hope you're having a great holiday!

    Kat - [Drooling] I will be sure to watch out for that post!

    Bob - The Guinness gravy is definitely going into permanent menu rotation! I'm thinking of other ways to use it. 8-)

    Phyllis - All the unique pizzas that I ever tried always seemed to originate from the West Coast, but now it seems that people everywhere are more open to new flavors. We ALWAYS have a giant block of Dubliner on hand (no exaggeration). The moment I thought about using farl, the cheese followed close behind! But poutine was also the underlying inspiration so the gravy would be a natural. 8-)

    Jane - Oh, I hope you do! Please let me know how it turns out for you. Regarding grapeseed oil, it's not at all crucial - it's simply what I use most for cooking! 8-D

    Mark - Thank you! The only reason we stopped short of finishing the entire pizza was that the farl crust is really quite filling. Not to worry - we finished it the following evening!

    A Cupcake or Two - The crust came very close to how I love my pizza crust - crispy on the outside but soft and chewy inside. I think that a few minutes in the oven before the toppings will give it a bit more of that. Thanks!

  • Table Talk said...

    Guiness gravy with leeks~ oh my~ I think you should re-post this next year for St. Patrick's Day!
    Love the twitter screen grabs throughout your story :)

  • gastroanthropologist said...

    Yet another use for my favorite cast iron skillet (sent to me in all its HEAVY glory by my best friend across the Atlantic)! I love how you came to this pizza - looks and sounds delicious.

  • Cinnamon-Girl said...

    This is so creative and so delicious sounding! I was eating pizza with thinly sliced potatoes over top while I was reading - that I made in my skillet - a funny coincidence. Your recipe sounds a lot better with that lovely potato crust.

  • FOODalogue said...

    I wonder what they'd think of this in the rolling hills of County Donegal, Ireland...clearly by the response in the blogosphere, it's a great hit. Very creative!

  • Liren said...

    Tracey! One word: GENIUS.

    Oh my goodness, have you just summed up all the world's comfort in one pie? LOVE pizza. LOVE poutine. Sorta love Guinness (Hubby LOVES Guinness). Genius!

    And, I so hear ya on how the spring weather has been so well as Twitterverse...

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Manggy - Thank you and I'm happy for the last-minute inspiration, too! I was definitely stuck in a rut. As for the Filipino version, CarolineAdobo had a great idea to use pandesal dough and longanisa topping - will have to try it!

    Celeste - Thanks! It turned out well so well, especially the farl dough. Imagine what else could go on top . . . 8-)

    AEAE - I am very happy that it hits the spot for you! Now, it's your turn to incorporate Guinness and Kerrygold into 'skivers! 8-D

    Elra - I'll trade you a slice of pizza for one of your pretzels!

    Marvin - Go ahead and show that pan some lovin'!

    Doggybloggy - Thank you! I'm going to work on that crispness just a bit more but I'm not complaining about this first attempt. 8-)

    Table Talk - I figured that inviting others along on the ramble that is my thought process would be a little easier to follow with some visual aides! I'll definitely bring this one back out again for next St. Paddy's Day.

    Gastroanthropologist - That's so sweet of your friend - it must've cost a fortune to ship! After making a pizza in it, it's back at the top of my fave cookware list.

    Cinnamon-Girl - Oooo, sliced potatoes as a topping? What kind of sauce? I'm not averse to having an all potato pizza . . . 8-)

    Greg - That's right!

    Erica - Thank you! The gravy has a hint of sweetness due to the caramelized onions and it goes so well with the savory sausage. 8-)

    FOODalogue - Thanks! I'm hoping the good folk of Co. Donegal will appreciate my homage. 8-)

    Forager - [LOL] I didn't think about that, but what better way to cure a hangover than with a wee bit of brew?

    LetMeEatCake - It's amazing the bits of really interesting info that people tweet about. Maybe that's why I'm so addicted to it . . .

    Liren - Thank you!! My husband enjoyed this so much that he's extracted a promise from me to make it again ASAP. 8-)

    Gera - Thank you, friend! There's such a universal quality to bread dough with toppings and there's always something for everyone!

  • Lori said...

    I feel your pain with the Twitter, email, etc. I HAVE to keep checking it all day because I end up learning so much via articles and posts. I did have to set some ground rules earlier this week though due to deadlines. :)

    This is an incredible combo! You are so creative. It looks amazing and even if I don't use that gravy for the pizza it is going on something else very soon. Delicious!

  • Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

    OMG Tracey - I am *just* getting to the II pizza pies today! As you know my week was kinda thrown on its head in the middle of making that pizza and I am just coming up for air now! I *love* your pizza pie and am bookmarking it for the cooler weather in the fall!

  • The Diva on a Diet said...

    Noodle, you've done it again! This recipe is truly inspired ... and I loved reading the trail of inspiration ... and the combination of ingredients is just brilliant. I hope you've saved me a slice! ;)


  • Kitchen Butterfly said...

    :-) Pizzas are truly international. I love this Irish take...and good you made it to the groove....just in time. Tonight I made a quick pizza, using arabic bread as the base, some hoisin and plum sauce instead of passata, topped with slices of roasted duck and spring onions and finished off with mozzarella rounds. Heaven on a plate!

  • dawn said...

    oh dear how did i miss this one? i'm so sorry i'm late in my postings. (so behind these days)
    you always have such wonderful stories to go along with your food creations. almost like dinner and a movie, you know?
    hope all is well. and you know we need to see more photos of that adorable boxer....ok?

  • Dee said...

    Pizza & Gravy? Wow, what a combo. I wish the local pizza places would deliver up something like this! Looks fabulous. Glad your Spring has arrived.

  • Jamie said...

    This is simply fabulous! A meal in a pan! And who couldn't love a combo of pizza, potatoes and gravy? Fantastic! To sit and enjoy as you read through twitter :-)

  • Eric said...

    Hello Tangled, Top of the Blog to ya'

    Sometimes I forget how soothing the mint green wallpaper is here. Sometimes I forget how intimate your photos are. Sometimes I forget how you play with words and dice up creative imagery in a playful tone.

    But everytime I return, I remember how hungry you always make me!

    Go n-eírí an bóthar leat.
    May the road rise with you.

    Cheers from a admirer and a American-Irishmen. The guiness gravy is a touch of inspiration...

  • OysterCulture said...

    What a delicious sounding recipe - best of luck in the pizza contest. Talk about international pie - it whizzed from Canada to Ireland in the blink of an eye. Good stuff


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