Creamy salty savory yummy: Yes, it’s that time of year when there are leftover mashed potatoes in the fridge. Time to make mashed potato, bacon & leek pizza!
If you’re a sucker for red sauce pizza like I am, you might laugh off this one. Do not make such a grievous life error. The Fabulous Honey Parker took her first bite of this pizza and declared, “Holy mother of God!” She may be understating the case.
If you’re always looking for a new and different way to pizza, your leftover Thanksgiving mashed potatoes are going to have a new and fruitful life: Mashed Potato, Bacon & Leek Pizza. Or, as we’re calling it for the moment, The Holy Mother Of Mashup Pizza. Even before I got near to putting this thing together, I mentioned it to Honey, who immediately suggested it would taste much like a potato and cheese pierogi. She’s right. Except it’s even better.
There is plenty of historical precedent for potato pizza. Thinly sliced potato is a common pizza topping in Italy. Up north in the Liguria region, potatoes on focaccia run rampant.
Down south in Naples, thinly sliced potato on a Neapolitan-style pizza are everywhere. And to bring potato pizza closer to home, world-famous Sally’s in New Haven has a potato and onion pizza that makes even the hardcore, prose-only folks wax poetic.
Yes, the above are all about thin-sliced potatoes. That’s just to offer a little context so when some pizza-people misanthrope comes at you, slinging arrows at your tuber weirdness, you are armed with a potato-skin shield. Then, you can segue to a discussion of pizza Mecca New Haven, and the wildly popular super secret cult pizza at a joint called Bar.
Bar has a mashed potato pizza that makes people sit up and take notice. It’s lore across the pizza web, and even the vaunted Saveur magazine has written lovingly about it.
What we’re going to make here is a mashed-potato pizza with bacon and sautéed leeks. If you don’t have leeks handy (Dude, what’s wrong with you!?) and you just aren’t interested in leaving the house to pay five bucks a pound for a fancy onion, feel free to substitute onion. It’ll have a little more proletariat swagger than the leek, but it’ll do. The goal here is about having a component to cut through and contrast with the starchiness of the potato.
AS ALWAYS, MIS EN PLACE IS YOUR FRIEND. That’s in all caps because some folks need reminding. Organized prep and doing all the tiny tasks that make your toppings sing are key.
For instance, you’ll want to sauté or roast your leeks. It expels of some of that moisture and concentrates their flavor before putting them on the pizza.
If you’ve never worked with leeks before, this is important. For this pizza, you want to chop them roughly, then wash them thoroughly. There can be a ton of dirt in there.
You’ll want your mashed potatoes to be easily spreadable on a raw pizza dough. The mashed potatoes I make tend to be thick. As leftovers, they are downright uncooperative vis à vis spreading. So I warm them in a pan with a bit of milk, stirring them to yield a spreadable consistency. (They must remain mashed potatoes. Baby food or potato juice cocktail will not do.)
Bacon, of course, is the madness factor. You will try to double the bacon in this recipe. That’s what we do, especially us guys. It’s a cultural sickness of our time. Try to hold off on creating a bacontastrophe. Balance is always your friend with pizza toppings. Less is more. (Until, of course, more is more.)
I always cook too much bacon on purpose. You can never have too much. And the surplus bacon will not go on the pizza. We call it Bonus Bacon. It is used for frequent taste tests. Quality control is important.
Don’t put raw bacon on your pizza. People try this and occasionally live to tell about it. Par-cook your bacon slices to not-quite-crispy. I like using thick-cut bacon, and cooking it so there's just a little flaccid fattiness left. Then, I cut them into small pieces. I like to have squares of about one inch or smaller. That way, the bacon asserts itself enough to prove that it is indeed bacon without imposing itself. It’s bite size enough, yet remains appropriately stand-out for the situation.
I’m specifying amounts for a 14-inch pizza here. Adjust up or down as necessary for larger or smaller pies. As always, I like to build a composed pizza. Dial things up or down as you see fit.
Finally, if you’re new to Free The Pizza recipes, there are no actual recipes. Other than the dough, pizza is not recipes. Pizza is a system and a way of thinking and feeling your way. We don’t codify things to absolutes here because it’s too difficult to account for the differences in your sizes, consistencies and proclivities. Take the quantities below as a guideline. Use more or less if you feel the need.
We also assume you possess basic pizza skills and we do not overexplain pizza making. If you require a tutorial, we heartily recommend our award-winning book, Free The Pizza! (A Simple System For Making Great Pizza Whenever You Want With The Oven You Already Have)—available wherever Amazon books are sold.
Yields one 14-inch pizza
1 dough ball for a 14-inch pizza, about 12.5 ounces, brought to room temp for at least 90 minutes
1.5 cups mashed potatoes, slightly warm and spreadable
1 cup/6.5 ounces shredded whole-milk mozzarella
1/2 cup par-cooked bacon squares, about one inch more or less
1 cup chopped leeks, white and bright green parts, roasted or sautéed
1/4 cup grated parmigiana Reggiano
Make sure your steel or stone is in the oven, about six inches beneath the broiler element. Preheat it to your oven’s highest temp (mine goes to 550 degrees) for one hour. (No broiler? No problem. We’ll just be increasing the baking time.)
Stretch the dough to 14 inches round. Place it on a dusted wooden peel.
Using a frosting knife or a soft rubber spatula, spread the potatoes evenly on the stretched dough to about half an inch from the edge.
Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella evenly over the potatoes.
Place the bacon squares evenly atop the cheese.
Spread the chopped leeks evenly around the entire pizza. Try to avoid covering the bacon. Not only will the bacon continue cooking, but it will look much more alluring.
Slide the pizza into the oven. Close the door, and turn the broiler on high. Bake for about five minutes total, turning it halfway at 3 minutes.
Keep an eye on it to be sure it’s baking evenly and not burning. Remember: some char is good.
If you have no broiler, the bake time will be more like 10 minutes. Check occasionally that the pizza is browning, and not burning on either the top or the bottom.
When the crust is brown, and there are some small areas of char, and the cheese is bubbling, you have a pizza. Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool. Sprinkle the pizza with the shredded parmigiana.
Once the pizza has set, about one minute, place it on a proper cutting surface and slice. Eat. Go crazy. Free the pizza!
Blaine Parker is the award-winning author of the new, unusual and amusing how-to pizza book, Free The Pizza. Also known as The Pizza Geek and "Hey, Pizza Man!", Blaine is fanatical about the idea that true, professional-quality pizza can be made at home. His home. Your home. Anyone's home. After 20 years of honing his craft and making pizza in standard consumer ovens across the nation, he's sharing what he's learned with home cooks like you. Are you ready to pizza?
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