Calzone, and Marcella

January 5, 2011

It was only coincidental that I made calzone the night Marcella’s Italian Kitchen arrived on my doorstep, along with my handy-dandy digital scale from Amazon. (I love me some Amazon.)

Maiden voyage at calzone. Wasn't half bad. Will be better with minor tweaking.

I had been contemplating calzone since last week, when Judi over at www.littleclove.com wrote about her Christmas Eve one. That one is big enough to feed a sizeable army; I cut her recipe down to 1/4 the size, and three of us ate about half of it.

I will make a few tweaks next time. I over-parsleyed the thing; Judi’s recipe called for a market-sized bunch of parsley, and I used about half that, not thinking that, y’know, if you’re cutting the freaking recipe in half, hadn’t you ought to use only a quarter of a bunch? (Answer; yes, you had. Dummy.) Kids agreed they’d like to have a light coating of sauce over the filling, before the addition of the top crust.

Oh, and this crust? Mark Bittman’s pizza crust from How To Cook Everything. Proving yet again that Mark Bittman is the go-to culinary authority on any and everything and will ALWAYS be my guide when I don’t know WTF I’m doing in the kitchen, at least as long as it’s something he’s written about. I freaking NAILED this crust, people. It was to die for.

The crust, a la Mark, is a fine and simple thing, as long as you (a) have a food processor, and (b) decide at least a day in advance that you want to make pizza, so the dough can sit at least one day in the fridge. You take three cups of flour, two teaspoons of yeast (I used two envelopes, which is about 2 1/2 teaspoons), two tablespoons of olive oil, a teaspoon of salt. You whiz that together in the FoPro. Then, with it running, you add a cup of water (I used warm water, because it just seemed to me that the little yeasties would want warm water), and however much more it needs to make the dough pull away from the sides and clump up around the blade. Then you knead it on a floured board a few turns (maybe a couple minutes) until it gets nice and smooth and elastic, and you plunk it in an oiled bowl and cover it with a towel in a warm spot.

An hour or so later, take you a gallon ZipLoc, put a glug of oil in it, close the ZipLoc, and squish the oil all around inside it. Punch the dough down and put in the bag, squeeze out some of the air, seal it and chunk it in the fridge.

When you get home from work the next day, take it out of the fridge and let it come up to room temp while you take a nap. Because you need a nap, because you stayed up way too damn late last night watching the Hogs blow it in the last minute, nevermind the innumerable passes that were On The Money that the receiving corps dropped en route to an ignominous loss to those damn Buckeyes.

When you wake up, you make the innards of said calzone. For my quarter-sized one, which was about 9 x 12 by about 1 1/2 inches thick, I used a half-pound of Italian sausage, some red pepper flakes, a pound of Ricotta, a half-cup (or thereabouts) of Parmigiano-Reggiano, a half-bunch, which should really have been a quarter-bunch) of parsley, an egg, and salt and pepper to taste. Brown the sausage, let it drain and cool, and stir it up with all the other stuff.

To assemble this baby: Put a sheet of parchment paper over your baking sheet (I have a junior-sized one that’s about 10 x 13, which was about perfect for this), leaving a couple of inches overlap on either side. Sprinkle that with a bit of cornmeal, so the crust won’t stick. Divide your dough into two portions, one slightly larger than the other; take the larger one and stretch and press it to roughly fit your baking sheet.

Take another egg, and separate it. Beat the white a bit with a fork, take a pastry brush and brush the bottom crust with this. Do not, as I did, forget this step and put the filling on the crust, remember the egg, say “Sumbitch!” and scoop the filling off before brushing with the egg white. It’s easier to remember it in the first place. This keeps your bottom crust from getting soggy.

Sort of mound the filling — which will be about cookie-dough consistency — down the center of the dough, and press it out to within an inch of the edge, making it a fairly even thickness.

Go back to your other chunk of dough, and tear you off a second portion of parchment; put it on a cutting board and sprinkle it with cornmeal as well. Use it to press and stretch your top piece of dough, and to pick said dough up and flip it over atop the filling. Then crimp the excess bottom dough up and over the edge of the top piece of dough to seal the edges. Beat the remaining egg yolk with a little water, and brush that over the top crust.

Bake it at about 350 (which is probably closer to 375 in normal ovens, which mine is not) until it’s a luscious golden brown. Let it cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes or so before you cut it, to allow the filling to set.

And then it looks like this, and believe me, it smells even better!

I’ll tweak it a bit next time; namely, I’ll cut back on the parsley, and maybe add a bit of oregano and basil. I’d consider using pepperoni or some other Italian sausage, diced up, or even proscuitto or browned and diced pancetta for the meat; you could use whatever you felt like, I think. And I’d probably paint the top of my filling with a bit of marinara before adding the top crust. I could also see doing this in the summer with good, ripe tomatos, diced and drained on paper towels, and fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella to sub for half the ricotta.

All in all, a highly successful adventure.

And now, to complete a really piss-poor sports run, Memphis State is getting thumped by Tennessee with 10 minutes to go. So I think I’ll take Marcella and head for bed. You and y’mama ‘n ’em try this calzone, and thank Judi for it.

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6 Responses to “Calzone, and Marcella”

  1. Whitney Says:

    OMG this sounds good! I’m sooooooo trying it!

  2. Whitney Says:

    And did I tell you I can hook you up with yeast the next time you’re in town? Husband works at Fleischmann’s, just let me know 🙂

  3. kayatthekeyboard Says:

    Oooohh! I’d forgotten that! I’ll see Jane and Donna at a baby shower for Cara not this Sunday but next, if you get a chance…..

  4. Whitney Says:

    I’ll get him to get me some next week then! Will be in larger bag (not envelope like normal, I searched on internet tho, and its easy to convert). I’ll send it with them!

  5. kayatthekeyboard Says:

    Wonderful! Tried the calzone, yet? I’m loving that stuff….thinking about making one today.

  6. littleclove Says:

    Kay-

    You mentioned on littleclove that you had made this, but I finally got around to reading your post HERE. LOVE that you tried a beloved family recipe of ours! LOVE LOVE LOVE.

    And I also love how you put your own spin on it. The addition of sauce sounds heavenly and something I will definitely try.

    Let me know how your next one turns out. 😉

    Pleased to have the opportunity to try it! My daughter is a decided fan; she took some to work the next day and I had to send your recipe to everyone at her office!


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