Friday, September 14, 2018

Irish Pizza

I might have mentioned that my friend Marcia and I tried to eat lunch in every available restaurant in Skibbereen (that’s Ireland, in case you don’t know) during our recent trip. We came close, but I guess we saved a few for another trip. One of those stops was the café at the Drinagh Co-op.

The cafe in Skibbereen
My cottage lies within the village of Drinagh, north-east of Skibbereen. It’s tiny, with one main street and a population of about six hundred as of the last census. According to Wikipedia, it has “a tennis court, post office, two churches, one primary school, two pubs, two grocery stores, a gym, a hardware store, and a creamery” (funny thing—Wikipedia did not mention the funeral home or the one-person police station). Recent update: the post office (about 100 square feet) will be closing this month. And one of the grocery stores, the hardware store and the creamery are part of the Drinagh Co-op.

The Co-op was founded in 1923 by a local curate and some local farmers, and is now one of the largest independent cooperatives in Ireland. It has ten branch offices throughout West Cork and employs almost 200 people. It produces milk products, supplies food for livestock, as well as home and gardening products and building and farming goods—and appliances. I love the place: so far I have bought a stove, stovetop, washer and dryer at the massive appliance store and a waterproof jacket for milking cows (okay, I don’t have any cows, but the jacket is very waterproof, which is useful).

All this may make the village sound industrial, but there’s still only one main street, and it’s very peaceful—even though they collect milk from local farmers in large shiny tanker trucks. 

Yes, that's a milk truck. 
But I digress. Back to the pizza!

The café in Skibbereen is small and fun—when I was last there, it was school opening week, so there were lots of families with children wearing school uniforms, as well as teens and twenty-somethings and older women having lunch together in the middle of the week. You point at the food you want behind a counter, and a server heats it up (if need be) and delivers it to your table. I pointed at something that looked tasty but which I couldn’t identify, and the server said, “you want the pizza?” Guess what: it didn’t look like any pizza I had ever seen. But it tasted good, and I decided to try making my own. Basically it’s a typical pizza crust (though this one was oval), with tomatoes, cheese, bits of ham, and . . . sliced bangers!

This was the original version

Irish Pizza


pizza crust (all right, I cheated and bought some ready-made pizza dough at my market, and split it in two pieces)
chopped canned tomatoes (slightly chunky is good—not too soggy)
grated cheese (while the Drinagh original used cheddar (I think) I opted for Gubbeen, a locally-made semi-soft and flavorful cheese that I love)
a couple of slices of cooked ham (the sandwich variety, not too thick. In this version the ham was cut into squares about 1 inch a side)
two or three bangers, sliced into half-inch rounds


Grease a baking sheet well or line it with parchment paper. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.

Dust your surface with flour and roll out your dough into elongated ovals about 8-10 inches long and six inches wide. (Note: this dough was really elastic, and kept wanting to shrink, so the result was thicker than I hoped. But it tasted fine!)

Coarsely grate your cheese and slice up your ham and bangers.

Assembling the pizzas:

--spread a thin layer of the tomatoes on each crust (do not overlap the edges)
--lay your pieces of ham over the tomatoes
--sprinkle the grated cheese over the top
--distribute the banger pieces over the whole

Bake in the middle of the preheated oven until the edges of the crust are golden and the cheese has melted (about 25 minutes). Cool for a few minutes on a rack. It’s best eaten warm, but it keeps well (and reheats well) if you can’t finish your piece.

I was one of those kids who hated anything spicy or unfamiliar, so I’m guessing this would be a hit with the children I saw in the café. If you’re a person who likes a spicier pizza, sprinkle with red pepper flakes or something. 

Can you wait? The Lost Traveller, coming in January 2019.


  1. This looks really yummy; I love a thick crust. Also, I see your cat sitting casually by the cheese ❤

    1. Sharp eye! They don't eat cheese, but they love to help.

  2. It is fun to travel far from home and find familiar things that have a twist. I could totally see how bangers could make it onto pizza. When I visited England, the pizza flavor that really threw me was one with tuna and sweetcorn.

    1. Oh my! Never ran into that combination! (I will confess: I'm more likely to sample the sweets when I'm in a new place.)

  3. What? That didn't look like pizza to you? Can't wait for the next County Cork mystery.

  4. The Coop looks like a dream come true:clean and full of delightful temptations.
    I don't know what it is about pizza dough. Other people say to let it rest for about 15 minutes for the gluten to relax and then shape it some more. I've tried multiple 15 minute intervals without getting the dough to really cooperate.

  5. I love hearing about your village & seeing the pictures. That pizza looks really good.