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.
(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!