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Thursday 25 December 2014

Christmas Dinner... Pizza-style

In a recent post, I explored the possibility of turning the humble pizza - whose leftovers can so often form a 'breakfast of champions' the morning after - into an actual all-day breakfast, with surprisingly good results. Coincidentally I had a similar sort of thing on my recent trip to LA, eating a 'Sunny Side Up Bacon and Potato' pizza - a seasonally inspired special at California Pizza Kitchen. Pizza is, after all, one of the most universally adaptable forms of food.

So, when my girlfriend and I started discussing how we would deal with Christmas dinner - since one of us would certainly not be partaking of the traditional turkey - one of the earliest suggestions, directly inspired by the All Day Breakfast idea, was 'Christmas Dinner Pizza'.

The most obvious necessity for my pizza was Gilbert's Turkey Roll Pastrami (bought at Morrisons) which, with its black pepper-coating, has made for some rather tasty sandwiches for my lunches during the working week. After that, it was a case of determining what other Christmas Dinner staples should be included. Potato would have involved rather too much wastage, sprouts and most other veg were easy passes. What I really wanted to include, somehow, was stuffing and cranberry sauce. We'd picked up some dried cranberries for some cookies that we've baked to take over to my folks tomorrow, but just adding dried fruit to the pizza seemed weird. Thankfully, I noticed, nestled in our fridge, a pack of Yorkshire Wensleydale with cranberries (also from Morrisons), and so chopped off a few small pieces to scatter around.

I'm a huge fan of 'pigs in blankets' - small pork sausages wrapped in streaky bacon - which tend to be served as part of Christmas dinner at my folks', so I also bought a pack of them - eight were arranged on the pizza, the last two in the pack were left separate. Upon reflection, I think I probably should have picked up the 12-pack rather than the 10-pack, since that would have given me four overs, which could have been kept aside for our evening meal.

The final ingredient was an idea borrowed from my girlfriend - she'd added pickled red cabbage to her vegetarian version of a Christmas pizza (featuring pieces of a Quorn 'Turkey' Burger), which made it all nice and colourful, so I figured I'd add some to mine as well.
Before. Note that the pigs in blankets had already had about 10 minutes in
the oven prior to being added to the pizza for this shot. The stuffing had
been cooked separately, according to its own instructions
So, after about 10-12 minutes in my oven, the pigs in blankets were done to perfection, the Wensleydale and cranberry had melted into the mozzarella, the stuffing was nicely crisped, and the end result looked like this:
After... But before I scoffed it all down. Obviously.
I must confess to some surprise that this turned out as well as it did - particularly with the addition of the Wensleydale with cranberry (that, being such an unusual and late addition to the range of flavours, was the wild card, but the overall effect worked very well). I mean, OK, it's unlikely that I'd ever complain about something involving pigs in blankets, I already knew the turkey pastrami was nice (rather more moist than the average roast turkey!), and stuffing is little more than additional herbs... but there was plenty of room for it to be terrible simply because it's a bit of a jumble.

The only thing that did go slightly wrong was the pickled cabbage, which could have done with a bit more draining before it was chucked onto the pizza, as it ended up soaking right through and causing a damp patch in the middle of the base.

I had been a little concerned about the stuffing, as my girlfriend started preparing the whole packet, where I'd intended only to make a small amount, rolling into balls to distribute around the pizza. However, even once cooked in an oven-proof dish, the stuffing below the crisp surface remains moist and malleable, and easily stands up to further time in the oven. I ended up not shaping it as it was still rather hot when we started making the pizzas, but I think that just adds to the 'hand-made charm' of my pizza.

A decidedly tasty and tidy Christmas dinner, with very little washing up required afterward... and so another success for pizza as a method of preparation.

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