Just down the street from my college was the sort of establishment you might have found just down the street from any college: A hang spot that was part pizza joint and part arcade with a swirl of dive bar for character.
To the left as you walked in was always a window of pizzas available to order by the slice. You never knew what all the varieties were going to be that day, and the first thing I looked for was if they had the one with potatoes on it.
This pizza was basically everything you love about a loaded baked potato on a thin crust, warmed in the oven and finished with a squirt of ranch dressing. When I think of the best pizza I’ve had, this one’s near the top of the list.
It’s been a few years since college for me (let’s not talk numbers, OK?), and I wanted to re-create this pizza at home.
But first, I needed a leftover baked potato. You don’t want a fresh baked potato that’s still hot and fluffy. You want one that has cooled and will hold together when sliced.
Whenever I make baked potatoes, I usually make at least one extra. If I’m ordering from a restaurant, I’ll get an extra baked potato to go.
Why? Because leftover baked potatoes make the best hash browns ever. Scoop out the insides and fry them up in a bit of oil until crispy and golden.
But back to the pizza.
I used the pizza dough recipe I’ve shared in this column before, but you could use your own recipe, a store-bought mix, frozen dough or pre-made crust.
The sour cream dries out a bit during baking, leaving you with a texture that is almost like ricotta. You could mix a tablespoon of ranch dressing into the sour cream before assembling the pizza if you like.
Loaded Baked Potato Pizza
Makes 1 pizza.
Pizza dough or pre-made crust
1 baked potato
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 green onions, white and light green parts sliced (slice the darker green tops for garnish)
2 strips cooked bacon, chopped or crumbled
Ranch dressing, for serving
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Dust a pizza pan with cornmeal or coat with cooking spray and set aside.
Chop the potato into rounds no more than 1/2-inch thick, then cut each round into four pieces so you have flat quarter-circles. You don’t want cubes or other pieces tall enough to burn during baking.
Prepare dough according to directions. If making from scratch or a mix, stretch the dough into a 14-inch circle and place on the pan. Bake about 5 minutes, or until top of the crust has become solid.
Working quickly (and carefully – the pan is hot!), use a spatula to spread the sour cream over the crust almost to the edge. Sprinkle on the cheese, then the green onion and bacon. Evenly space the potato pieces flat over the pizza.
Return to the oven and bake about 20 minutes, or until the cheese bubbles and the crust is golden. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving. Garnish with sliced green onion tops. Drizzle ranch dressing over pizza, or serve on the side for dipping.