Citizens, few cuisines evoke such strong nostalgia for the unmatched Suzerain who ALONE is TFD as Italian-American! Growing up in Brooklyn in NYC, this food was the backbone of my childhood, and few things were as delicious as the mighty Calzone!
A calzone (“stocking” or “trouser” in Italian) is an Italian oven-baked folded pizza that originated in Naples in the 18th century.
A typical calzone is made from salted bread dough, baked in an oven and is stuffed with salami, ham or vegetables, mozzarella, ricotta and Parmesan or pecorino cheese, as well as an egg. Different regional variations on a calzone can often include other ingredients that are normally associated with pizza toppings.
Traditional calzone dough, consisting of flour, yeast, olive oil, water and salt, is kneaded and rolled into medium-sized disks. Each is then filled with cheeses such as ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, provolone, and other traditional vegetables or meats.
The dough is then folded in half over the filling and sealed with an egg mixture in a half-moon shape, or is sometimes shaped into a ball by pinching and sealing all the edges at the top. It is then either baked or fried.
In some areas, just before serving, they are topped with marinara or other traditional sauce, or with a mixture of garlic, olive oil and parsley. Similar dishes are scacciata and stromboli.
Sandwich-sized calzones are often sold at Italian lunch counters or by street vendors, because they are easy to eat while standing up or walking. Fried versions of the calzone are typically filled with tomato and mozzarella: these are made in Apulia and are called panzerotti.
The Sicilian cuddiruni or cudduruni pizza is distantly related to the calzone. This is a dish stuffed with onions (or sometimes other vegetables, such as potatoes or broccoli), anchovies, olives, cheese and mortadella; the rolled pizza dough is folded in two over the stuffing and the edges are sealed before the dish is fried.
In the United States, calzones are typically made from pizza dough and stuffed with meats, cheeses and vegetables.
In Italy, as of the 1960s, calzones were popularly believed to be the most efficient type of pizza for home delivery.
This popular credence had some scientific ground as the folded nature of the dish results in a lower surface-to-volume ratio than a traditional pizza resulting in better heat retention during the journey from the pizzeria to the buyer’s home. This results in a calzone being delivered warmer than pizza, all other things being equal.
Nowadays pizza delivery motorbikes have electrically heated bags to keep pizzas warm during the journey.
For my ultimate recipe, one must start with the ULTIMATE pizza crust – and that is without question the dough created by supreme pizza maven Peter Reinhart. This versatile dough can be used to make pizza, calzones, or stromboli. It gets its great depth of flavor from a long, slow fermentation, preferably overnight in the refrigerator and for up to 3 days.
Next, I love powerful flavors and few things are as potent as my homemade puttanesca sauce made with garlic, hot pepper, anchovy, capers and olives! Mix that with several meats and cheeses plus fresh basil and you have the SUPREME calzone indeed!
Dip that heavenly stuffed crust into marinara sauce and a garlicky herb-laden olive oil and you truly have palatal perfection! Few things in this or any other life are as deeply soul-satisfying as a well-made calzone – and trust Me Citizens, mine IS very well-made indeed (as you will discover soon enough!).
Battle on – the GeneralissimoPrint
The Hirshon Spicy, Cheesy and Meaty Italian-American Calzone
- Total Time: 0 hours
- For the crust:
- 1 lb. (3-1/2 cups) unbleached bread flour; more as needed
- 2 tsp. granulated sugar or honey
- 1–1/2 tsp. table salt (or 2–1/2 tsp. kosher salt)
- 1–1/4 tsp. instant yeast
- 1–1/2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed
- Semolina flour (optional)
- For puttanesca sauce:
- 6 large firm, ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 4 T. olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 3 flat anchovy fillets, minced, ideally from a glass jar (JH note – the best anchovies – by far – are the Ortiz brand, sold at Whole Foods)
- 1 t. hot pepper flakes
- 1 t. Tabasco sauce, or to taste
- 4 T. tomato paste
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons red wine (optional)
- 2 T. capers, brine-packed, drained
- 8–10 Greek olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Chopped fresh oregano, fresh parsley and fresh basil, to taste
- For the filling:
- 9 Peppadew peppers, chopped
- 1/2 cup or more Puttanesca sauce, plus additional for serving
- 2 cups buffalo (preferred) or cow mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1/4 cup freshly-grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup diced pepperoni
- 1/2 cup Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled
- 1/2 cup diced Virginia ham
- Several leaves of fresh basil
- Dipping sauces of tomato sauce and another made from olive oil, crushed garlic, minced parsley and minced fresh oregano
- For the crust:
- Combine the flour, sugar or honey, salt, yeast, and olive oil in a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Add 11 fl. oz. (1-¼ cups plus 2 Tbs.) cool (60º to 65ºF) water.
- With a large spoon or the paddle attachment of the electric mixer on low speed, mix until the dough comes together in a coarse ball, 2 to 3 minutes by hand or 1 to 2 minutes in the mixer. Let the dough rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
- Knead the dough: If using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook. Knead the dough for 2 to 3 minutes, either by hand on a lightly floured work surface or with the mixer’s dough hook on medium-low speed. As you knead, add more flour or water as needed to produce a ball of dough that is smooth, supple, and fairly tacky but not sticky.
- When poked with a clean finger, the dough should peel off like a Post-it note, leaving only a slight residue. It may stick slightly to the bottom of the mixing bowl but not to the sides.
- Chill the dough: Lightly oil a bowl that’s twice the size of the dough. Roll the dough in the bowl to coat it with the oil, cover the top of the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days (TFD note – the longer the better!).
- It will rise slowly in the refrigerator but will stop growing once completely chilled. If the plastic bulges, release the carbon dioxide buildup by lifting one edge of the plastic wrap (like burping it) and then reseal. Use the dough for pizzas, calzones, or stromboli as directed in the recipes.
- For the puttanesca sauce:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Toss the tomatoes and 1 clove of the garlic in 2 T. of the olive oil in a large baking dish. Bake for about 20 minutes or until lightly charred. Remove and place tomatoes and garlic through a food mill into a small-sized bowl. Set aside.
- Bring 5 quarts of water to a boil. Add 1 t. salt and let it boil until ready to add the pasta.
- In a large sauté pan add remaining olive oil and heat until warm. Add the last two cloves of garlic and gently cook until soft. Add anchovies and mash with the back of a wooden spoon. Add hot pepper flakes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, optional red wine, capers, tabasco and olives and cook very slowly on medium heat, stirring continuously, for about 5 minutes.
- Add the roasted tomato sauce to the mixture and stir to combine, set to lowest heat. Lightly season with salt and pepper to taste.
- To make the calzones:
- Preheat oven to 375°. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; punch down to remove air bubbles. Divide dough into 4 pieces. Shape to balls. Let dough relax 10 minutes. On floured surface, roll each piece into an 8-inch circle.
- Place basil leaves on each piece of dough, then spoon pizza sauce, cheese and toppings on top (it should only go on to half of each circle). Moisten edge of dough with mixture of 1 egg and 1 teaspoon water. Fold in half; seal edge by pressing with fork. Prick each top; brush with remaining egg mixture.
- Bake on greased cookie sheets for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately with dipping sauces.
- Prep Time: 0 hours
- Cook Time: 0 hours
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