Thanksgiving Leftovers Pizza

I'm from Chicago, so I'm serious about pizza. Serious. Once I moved away from Chicago, I realized that Chicago pizza doesn't exist elsewhere besides Chicago. Those places that say they serve Chicago pizza are liars. I don't think they intentionally are trying to lie, but nonetheless, Chicago pizza does not exist outside of Chicago.

Now, when I say "Chicago Pizza", you are most likely thinking about the deep-dish, ooey-gooey, stuffed-with-cheese type of pizza, the kind of pizza where the term "pizza pie" makes literal sense.

But there's another type of Chicago pizza. Yes, that's right, another. Sadly, unless you are from Chicago or have spent exorbitant amounts of time in the Chicago area, you likely do not know that thin-crust Chicago pizza existed. Well, dear readers, now you know. (Commence the airfare bidding wars to ORD on Priceline now.)

Chicago thin-crust pizza is so delectable in ways that I don't think describing will do justice. It is not quite like New York thin crust pizza, and it is not like a flatbread pizza. The crust is thin, but strikes a balance between crispy and buttery soft. Typically, Chicago thin crust pizzas use a combination of 3 cheeses for toppings: mozzarella, provolone, and mild white cheddar. They're cooked in a pizza oven until the cheese is fully melted together and bubbling. The tomato sauce is a savory, garlicky sauce, and the flavorings are somewhere between typical pizza spice and Italian spice. I have long suspected that Chicago pizza also uses some of the same spices in Chicago Italian Beef (don't even get me started here on this one), but I've never been able to confirm it.

Paleo or not, Chicago thin-crust is one of the things I miss the most about living away from Chicago.  (Besides that whole friends and family thing being hard to see.) In college, when I was doing long drives from Iowa City to Chicago, and then later from Eastern South Dakota/Western Iowa to Chicago, my mom would always make sure to time my arrival with that of the pizza delivery guy. Of all my memories from college, this is one of my favorites. (Thanks Mom!)

Living away from Chicago has reduced my pizza intake greatly. This isn't a bad thing, really, but I do sincerely miss it. These days, when I need a pizza fix, I usually just end up cooking a store-bought Against the Grain pizza, because if a pizza cheat meal isn't going to satisfy my Chicago pizza cravings, it might as well be Paleo. (And Against the Grain's pizza is pretty darn good.)

Now, I present you with yet another pizza you didn't see coming: The ImsickofcookingandheavealltheseThanksgivingleftoverstoeat Pizza. That's quite the mouthful, so I've shortened it to: The Thanksgiving Leftovers Pizza. Simply, you should have everything you need on hand to make this pizza the day after Thanksgiving, besides maybe the Brie and the BBQ sauce. If you don't have Brie on hand, you can substitute with another type of cheese, although I really love the pairing of Brie with cranberry sauce together. The arugula adds nice color to the dish, and it comes together incredibly fast after the crust has been made. This pizza also creates a terrific presentation, especially when made in a cast iron skillet. Swoon. There's just something about cast iron.

thanksgiving leftovers pizza

Serves 3-4 

For the crust:

  • 2-½ tsp. active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup warm water, between 100 and 110 degrees
  • 1 egg
  • 2 ½ tbsp. oil, plus additional for oiling
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • ½ cup arrowroot starch
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • ½ tsp. Himalayan Pink Sea Salt
  • Nonstick cooking spray (I like either coconut oil spray or olive oil spray)

For the toppings:

  • ½ cup arugula
  • ½ cup shredded, leftover turkey
  • 1/3 cup lemon-anise cranberry sauce (of whatever leftover cranberry sauce you have)
  • ½ tsp. ground sage
  • 4 oz. fresh Brie
  • ¼ cup of your favorite BBQ sauce (I like this paleo friendly one.)
  1. Place warm water into a cup and add yeast. Let sit for about 5 minutes to allow yeast to activate. You will know if yeast is active if it becomes bubbly and frothy. If it does not become activated, throw out and try again. It is important that the water for the yeast is between 100 and 110 degrees, because if the temperate is too low, it will not activate, and if it is too warm, it will kill the yeast. (See example of yeast below.)
  2. In a small bowl, add egg and olive oil. Beat until well incorporated.
  3. In a mixing bowl, add the egg-oil mixture and the water with activate yeast. Briefly stir to incorporate.
  4. Add garlic powder, onion powder, salt, almond flour, and arrowroot starch. Mix until thoroughly mixed. Dough will be sticky.
  5. Place bowl with dough in a warm place and cover with a towel. Let dough rise for approximately 30-40 minutes. Dough will rise and become slightly larger.
  6. Preheat over to 450 degrees.
  7. Spray a 12-inch cast iron skillet with nonstick cooking spray.
  8. Oil hands and remove dough from the bowl. Place into your oiled, cast iron skillet.
  9. Spread dough into skillet, pressing slowly to fill all edges. You may need to oil your hand several times to ensure that the dough does not stick to your hands.
  10. Place cast iron skillet in the oven, on the middle rack, and bake for 5 minutes.
  11. While crust is baking, slice Brie very thinly.
  12. After 5 minutes, remove pizza crust from the oven. (Make sure to use oven mitts!)
  13. Spread cranberry sauce over pizza crust. Top with leftover turkey, arugula, and Brie slices. Sprinkle with sage.
  14. Place pizza back into oven on middle rack for 9 more minutes.
  15. Remove and let cool until pizza can be safely handled. Slice into pieces and serve with your favorite BBQ sauce on the side.

Yeast is active and ready to use when it is bubbly and frothy. 

Yeast is active and ready to use when it is bubbly and frothy.