This post is for all the Homestar Runner fans out there. Don’t know what that is? I’m almost loath to attempt to summarize it, because it defies explanation, but I’ll give it a try.
If you’ve ever heard someone mention Trogdor the Burninator or “The system. Is down,” those two pop culture references come straight from Homestar Runner, a goofy, creative, and sadly now-defunct online cartoon series with a major cult following. (This AV Club article on Homestar Runner’s far-reaching influence encapsulates the series very well.)
The Homestar Runner world is populated with surreal characters like Strong Bad, a rotund gravely-voiced dude in a Mexican wrestler’s mask who hangs out with an animal sidekick named The Cheat; and The King of Town, a bon vivant and the ostensible ruler of the kingdom, though he spends most of his free time eating and thinking about food.
Though he’ll eat almost anything—corn dog batter, a lifetime supply of fish sticks, cocoa butter, pretty much everything except peas—the King of Town really loves Thanksgiving and the food associated with the holiday. He really fears for his personal safety if it’s not Thanksgiving (click the > button in the cartoon to listen to his distressed voicemail—it’s message #6), and is adamant that all families fry their turkeys for the feast.
And it was a throwaway line in a Strong Bad Email episode about opening a pizza joint, where the King of Town orders “about 50 Thanksgiving Lover’s pizzas delivered to the only castle around here,” that inspired this recipe.
Maybe it was that the concept of a Thanksgiving Lover’s pizza initially sounded absurdly unpalatable, maybe it was that the King of Town always struck me as an absurdly funny member of the Homestar-o-sphere, but jokingly asking for one in the King’s warbly voice (often followed by another favorite quote, “Let the KoT have some!“) became a frequently repeated in-joke.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized the King of Town really had the right idea with this Thanksgiving Lover’s pizza thing. After all, one of my favorite hometown pizza joints, Jioio’s, puts mashed potatoes on a flaky pie-like crust for its pierogie pizza. And that’s not disgusting—it’s one of my favorite comfort foods! Maybe that crazy KoT was on to something after all.
With a crust made from Parker House roll dough, a healthy smear of creamy mashed potatoes, generous handfuls of turkey and stuffing, a drizzle of gravy, spoonfuls of cranberry sauce, and crispy fried sage leaves for garnish, this homemade Thanksgiving Lover’s pizza does the King of Town proud. It’s also a fantastic way to use up leftovers this coming weekend: make the pizza dough on Thursday night before you hit the hay and you’ll have it ready to go for the next day’s lunch.
As the Teen Girl Squad would say, it’s “soooooooo gooooooood!” And don’t forget to let the KoT have some.
Thanksgiving Lover’s Pizza
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Makes 4 small pizzas
Parker House Roll Pizza Crust
adapted from Food & Wine
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 cups (12 3/4 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (2 oz.) instant potato flakes
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- nonstick baking spray or organic canola oil
- 1 cup mashed potatoes, at room temperature
- 1/2-3/4 cup cooked, shredded turkey/span>
- 1/2-3/4 cup stuffing
- 1/4 cup warmed gravy
- about 2 dozen small fried sage leaves (recipe follows)
- 1 cup cranberry sauce (optional)
Make the pizza dough:
Heat the milk and butter over medium low heat until the butter melts and the milk starts to steam and bubble around the edges. Remove from the heat and cool until you can comfortably dip a finger into the milk.
Whisk the flour, potato flakes, sugar, yeast, and salt together in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl. Add the egg and lukewarm milk to the dry ingredients and mix with the dough hook of the stand mixer on low speed or with a dough whisk until a soft dough forms.
Continue to knead with the dough hook of the stand mixer or transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and silky.
Spray a clean mixing bowl with nonstick baking spray or coat lightly with canola oil, and place the dough in the bowl. Cover loosely with a sheet of plastic wrap or a lint-free towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for about an hour until the dough doubles in size.
Preheat the oven to 400˚F and place 2 large baking sheets in the oven.
Return the risen dough to the lightly floured work surface and divide into 4 pieces. Roll each piece out into a circle about 9 inches in diameter and no more than 1/4 inch thick. Transfer each dough round to a piece of parchment paper.
Place 2 crusts on their parchment paper on each preheated baking sheet and bake for about 5-6 minutes, until the crusts are slightly puffy and par-baked.
Remove from the oven and get ready to top the pizzas. (Make in advance: the dough can rise overnight in the refrigerator, then brought to room temperature before rolling and baking. The crusts can be par-baked as above, then cooled completely and refrigerated in an airtight container before topping and finishing.)
Assemble the pizzas:
Smear about 1/4 cup mashed potatoes in a thin, even layer across each crust, then top with turkey and chunks of stuffing.
Return to the oven and bake for about 5 minutes more, until the crust is golden brown and the toppings are warm.
Drizzle warm gravy across the pizza and top with fried sage leaves and cranberry sauce if desired.
Fried Sage Leaves
- 3 tablespoons organic canola oil
- 2 dozen small fresh sage leaves, rinsed and thoroughly patted dry
Heat the oil in a small (8-inch) skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the leaves and fry for about 30 seconds to crisp up. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and hold at room temperature until ready to serve.