pizza pie! how to make a tasty calzone.

Every Friday night is pizza night at my house. I make the dough in the morning and it rises patiently on my counter top while I work. My husband gets home first, men’s health so he preheats the oven and the pizza stone and gives the dough a bit of a knead for it’s second rising (um, try it’s not as dramatic as it sounds).

Then we eat our pizza in front of the TV with ice-cold I.P.A. in our frosty, fancy monogrammed beer mugs. After dinner, I usually fall asleep on the couch before 10, all the while pretending that I’m still awake while Tom tries to switch the channel to a movie I’d never in a million years watch with him. It’s a nice tradition.

A few months ago, I decided it was time to break tradition and branch out into the world of calzones. I stuffed them with ricotta, Parmesan, basil and toasted pine nuts. Having faced previous disasters with dumplings, raviolis and empanadas, I was very careful not to over-stuff. I waited patiently while the baked. Then I finally took a big bite, expecting a beautiful, creamy filling surrounded by a thin, crisp crust. Wrong. All I got was bread. And the filling? I could barely taste it. So bland.

The moral of the story is this: Fill the crap out of your calzone. And fill it with big, bold flavors. None of this subtle ricotta and toasted pine nuts. So I tried again with Portuguese Chourico (duh), sun-dried tomatoes, onions, arugula and semi-soft sheep’s milk cheese. Now that was a calzone worth posting. Spicy, rich, meaty and you could definitely taste the filling. It’s a calzone mighty enough to break tradition and delicious enough to make again and again.

Portuguese Chourico, Sun-Dried Tomato and Arugula Calzones

1 ball pizza dough (homemade* or store-bought)
4 oz. Portuguese Chourico
5-6 lg sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
1 yellow onion, sliced
4 oz. Semi-soft Sheep’s milk cheese, diced (mine had whole black peppercorns in it, but that’s obviously optional)
2 very large handfuls of arugula
salt & pepper
1 tbsp. coarse-grind cornmeal

Preheat the broiler to 450°. If you’ve got a pizza stone, preheat that as well. If not, preheat a foil-lined cookie sheet.

In a large skillet, sautee the chourico and onions until the chourico is browned and the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.

While the chourico and onions are cooking, cut the ball of dough in half and roll each half out into a thin circle about 1/8-inch thick. You’re going to want to make sure you stuff the calzones well or they’ll be too bready and not very flavorful. Pizza dough is stretchy and much more forgiving than pasta dough, so feel free to pile the ingredients on there.

Add a large handful of arugula to each circle, then top with the chourico and onions, splitting between the two. Finally, add the sun-dried tomatoes and cheese to each. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Now it’s time to wrap them up. Gently grab opposing sides of the circle and pull them up to the top center of the calzone. Pinch and dough together to form and half-moon shape, then roll the seam a bit to seal them, pinching until the seam is tucked away and the calzone is completely sealed (see photo above).

Sprinkle a bit of cornmeal over the heated pizza stone or cookie sheet and gently place the calzones on top. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until the outside is golden brown and the bottom is cooked through.

Test each one by gently lifting the corned up with a spatula. If the bottom is still soggy, lower the heat and keep baking them until they’re no longer soggy. If they tops begin to burn, just flip them over onto a dry piece of pizza stone of cookie sheet.

Once they’re done, remove from oven and let cool for 15 – 20 minutes before eating (the insides are like molten lava when they first come out of the oven). Serve with marinara sauce.

*Pizza Dough

1½ cups white whole wheat flour
¾ teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for coating
1 tsp. honey
2 tbsp. dry white wine
1 tbsp. vital wheat gluten (optional)

Mix all the dry ingredients in a big bowl, mixing well. Then add the wet ingredients and mix together into a big clump.

Flour a surface, and dump contents of bowl onto it. Knead everything together until all the ingredients are mixed well. Super Lazy Mel Tip: you can knead the dough right inside the bowl. You may hurt your knuckles a bit, but the clean up is much easier.

Pick the dough up, then lightly oil the bowl and place the dough ball inside, coating all sides with oil. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for at least 2 hours. I let it sit out on the counter all day while I’m at work and that seems to be fine as well.

Knead the dough for a bit to remove the air bubbles (Super Lazy Mel Tip: You can do this in the bowl). Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 30 more minutes.

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  1. I am definately making these for dinner tonight. I love your filling choices.

  2. Awesome! Hope they turn out well :)

  3. OK.
    I have a question.
    I just finished making a pair (I was not able to use the ‘fixins’ you used, but instead used chorizo and bacon in one, chicken in the other, couldn’t get any arugula, used baby spinach, and my cheese was a combo of mozzarella and feta ) and they were scrumptious.
    My dough did not rise.
    I’ve been on a pizza adventure for six weeks, trying out different recipes every few days in search of the ideal dough recipe (for me). None of these recipes takes the approach yours does re: the yeast. That is, they all let the yeast do its thing in the warm water, THEN everything else gets mixed. Yours has all dry mixed, then the liquids are added.
    As I say, my dough did not rise. At all.
    …the calzones turned out fabulously, regardless. I’m very content with them. (I’m wondering if I’ve found my pizza dough recipe at last!)
    So my question is: Does this sound unusual?
    Has it ever happened to you?
    Have you tried your recipe except doing the standard ‘yeast into the water, let foam, THEN continue’ approach?
    (I know, I know; more than one question…)

    Enquiring minds want to know.
    : )

  4. schmadrian – Hmmm. I make this dough every Friday using this method and it always rises. I usually don’t mix the dry ingredients – I layer. So, the yeast is always at the top when I pour the warm water over it. I find that if I mix the yeast with the water beforehand, most of the yeast gets left in measuring cup. Also, I am extremely impatient and usually make this as I’m rushing out the door before work :)

    That said, if you’ve used another pizza dough recipe you like, you should stick to it. Or, just use the more traditional method of letting your yeast foam in water, then add to the rest of the ingredients.

  5. Actually, I haven’t found my ideal recipe; that’s why I’m still on my quest. However, yours turned out especially well. I think I might try a) doing the traditional yeast-in-water thing, and b) layering it, as you say. Either way, I’m going to try my next pizza this way. (BTW, I loved the addition of the white wine. It reminds me of the technique of using vodka in pastry recipes. Where did you pick this up from?)

  6. schmadrian – the white wine and honey are from Mario Batali’s Pizza Dough recipe. I like to borrow from the best ;)

  7. schmadrian says:

    I think I’ve discovered the ‘problem’ I was having with this recipe. (And only because since originally posting, I’ve been carrying on with my quest.)

    For me, anyway, things are contingent on using Fast-Rising Yeast. As per the suggestion of Peter Reinhart in ‘The Bread Baker’s Apprentice’.

    Using regular, Active yeast does not yield a dough that rises. (For me) Fast-Rising yeast, does. (This solves the mystery of not foaming the yeast first; Fast-Rising doesn’t require this, it’s utilized with the dry ingredients.)

    And as I’m chomping down on a pizza fresh out of the oven, courtesy this dough recipe…again I have to thank you.
    : )

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