What is a Calzone?
The Calzone originated in Naples, Italy; an oven-baked filled pizza, folded over itself. A typical calzone is made from salted bread dough, baked in an oven after being stuffed with salami or ham, mozzarella, ricotta, Parmesan and/or Pecorino-Romano cheese, as well as an egg. In the United States, the calzone is baked using pizza dough; often vegetables are found included in the filling.
Cheddar Cheese does NOT belong in Italian recipes; reserve that for grilled cheese sandwiches please!!!
Now when the definition says "stuffed", it means stuffed! NOT hollow with a slice of cheese and meat; that's called a "rip-off". It's NOT a turnover; that is a pastry using some type of sweet, pastry dough with sweet fillings. Coming from old school, not yuppie-ville, Brooklyn, New York, we connaisseurs of pizzeria, and Italian, dishes are highly insulted when novice "pizza shop" owners try to fool their patrons.
First off, you need to have the basics down on pizza dough and sauce making. While pizza dough needs to be made from scratch, homemade sauce does not; in fact, most places use canned goods which is fine so long as it's done correctly! Now I have written about all this on separate blog posts, but now I'll be consolidating.
Step #1 - Dough
1 cup of warm water
3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 teaspoons of sugar (to feed the yeast)
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of yeast
Put warm water (80 to 110°F) into a bowl. Add salt and sugar and mix with a spoon. Add
yeast, mix and let it sit for about 10 minutes. If the water is too warm, it will
kill the yeast; too cold, and it will not awaken.
Start mixing, with a fork, by gradually adding flour and olive oil. Once it is too
thick to mix by fork, remove to a floured, wooden board; start kneading by hand.
Knead the dough until you have a smooth ball. If the dough cracks it is too dry. Add
water bit by bit until if forms a smooth ball. If your dough feels more like batter,
it is too wet and you need to add flour bit by bit. If you need to add water or flour,
do it by small amounts; it is easier to fix too little than too much.
Coat the dough with olive oil, place it in a large bowl and cover it with a clean,
cotton towel. Let the dough rise for about an hour at room temperature, then punch it
down, so it deflates. Let it sit for about another hour. If you want to use it the
next day, put it in a refrigerator wrapped in plastic wrap.
Put the dough on a lightly floured surface; a pizza peel (wooden board with a handle)
is easier for transferring the pizza from surface to surface. Put a bit of flour on
your hands; using the balls of your finger tips and hands, make it into the shape of a
circle by stretching it out from the center outwards. If you’re having a problem
stretching the dough by hand, se a rolling pin until the dough is about 1/4" thick.
The average size of the pizza will be about 16” which can be transferred to a pizza
pan or stone. You get better results when you use a pizza baking stone. The pizza
stone should be preheated to 450F for an hour prior to baking, and should be placed in
the middle of the oven.
Spread out evenly about 1-1 ½ cups sauce; then add favorite toppings such as cheeses,
meats and/or cut up vegetables.
The oven should be preheated to 450F. Bake for 20-25 minutes; the crust should be
browned, but not dark. Remove from oven, use a pizza cutter for easy slicing up and
serve. Makes 8-10 slices, depending on how its cut up.
Step #2 - Sauce
Homemade Sauce Using Canned Tomatoes:
Homemade Pasta Sauce
1 large onion, diced
3 Tbsp. garlic
3-28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1-28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1-12oz. can tomato paste
2 Tbsp. dried basil, crushed
1 Tbsp. each dried oregano, thyme and marjoram, crushed
1 tsp. ground black pepper
4 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
Add all listed ingredients into a 6-qt crock pot (previously sprayed with non-stick
spray); mix thoroughly. Set on low heat; let the sauce cook for 8 hours.
Yields about 14 cups.
This recipe can be made on the stovetop, but should be stirred every 1-2 hours to keep
sauce from sticking and burning on bottom of pot.
The long cooking time allows for the sauce to become richer and thicker. If a thinner
sauce is desired, cut the tomato paste by half, leave out the diced tomatoes, and cut
cooking time in half.
Besides serving as a pasta sauce, this can be used as a dipping sauce for fried foods,
or as a pizza sauce.
If making a meat sauce, brown 2 lbs of lean ground beef mixed with 2 Tbsp garlic
powder. Only use 2-28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes, instead of 3. Only cook the sauce
for 6 hours, instead of 8.
One ingredients that is popular in calzones is meatballs; here is my basic meatball recipe, but if using them for a calzone, make them about 1 to 1 and 1/2 inch in diameter. Or just make the large size and cut them into halves or quartered.
Lean ground beef (90% or more) is best for meatballs, since they are finished off
cooking in sauce. Actually, meatloaf mix which is a mixture of beef, pork and veal is the absolute best for making meatballs, but is often difficult to find at the supermarket. If a lesser lean meat is used, the fat would seep into the sauce, making it oily and unappetizing. The meatballs are first baked in an oven to remove any excess grease. These meatballs are the typical New York Italian style, about the size of a tennis ball, and while great with a pasta dish, they can also be used for
meatball sandwiches (subs, heroes, grinders, or whatever they are called in an area).
4 lbs. lean ground beef (90% or more)
2 lbs. ground pork
1 ½ cups Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/8 cup Italian seasoning mix
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 cup diced onion
¾ cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray jelly roll pans with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together thoroughly; making sure all dry
ingredients are mixed well with wet ingredients. Form the meat mixture into balls,
about 2 ¾” (size of a tennis ball); place on jelly roll pans.
Bake meatballs for 20 minutes; dab on paper towels to remove any grease and immerse
into sauce. Allow meatballs to cook in sauce until sauce is ready; 4-6 hours
depending on cooking technique being used. Serve with pasta, or use meatballs for a
Makes about 20 meatballs.
Now to the calzone making part; preheat oven to 450F and place the pizza pan (nonstick is best) inside; the dough has been worked out to a 16 inch diameter. Along one half, layer thin slices of mozzarella and provolone leaving 2 inches of dough untouched from the edge. I use the Sargento brand as they melt slowly and evenly; creating a seal against the dough to keep juices from making the baking crust not brown, or get soggy. Next top the thin slices with thicker slices of fresh mozzarella; spread 2 cups of ricotta cheese over the mozzarella. Evenly spread out 1 and 1/2 cups of sauce and add 5-6 small meatballs.
Dab the dough edge all around with water, carefully fold the other half of the dough over the fillings, bring the edges to touch and roll them together to form a seal. Brush the top with a little olive oil, with the tip of a knife, poke 4-5 air holes in the thickest part of the calzone. This will allow steam to release during the baking process; otherwise it would build up inside the dough and cause it to fully crack open.
Carefully remove the preheated pan from the oven and place the calzone in the center; return to the oven and bake until crust is browned (about 25-30 minutes). Again, carefully remove the calzone to a cutting board to rest for 5 minutes. Cut in half and enjoy!
So there you have it, a New York style calzone stuffed, and I mean stuffed, with cheeses, sauce and meatballs. If you begin seeing this little baby at your local pizza shop, I bet they're copying my recipes; and they better name that calzone after me!!!