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, so he preheats the oven and the pizza stone and gives the dough a bit of a knead for it’s second rising (um, 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.
1Â½ cups white whole wheat flour
Â¾ teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
Â½ 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.