mmmMMMmmm…trouser legs. Can one ever really get enough? ‘Trouser legs’ is apparently what the word calzone translates as but I don’t really get the reference. In spite of the nomenclature, I’m all about these yummy pockets into which one can empty the contents of one’s refrigerator in one fell swoop.
What you need for the dough:
1 package (or 2 and 1 quarter teaspoons) dry active yeast
1 cup hot (but not boiling) water
1 1/2 cups all purpose or whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups durum semolina
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
Calzone dough goes together in much the same way focaccia dough does, but instead of a rough, sticky dough this time we’re going for a soft, silky, uniform dough and the way we go about achieving that is through kneading and waiting…and kneading and waiting some more. Needless to say, this doesn’t realistically go together for a week-night-after-work-meal but it’s a lot of fun to put together on a day off when you’ve got the burning desire to clean your fridge.
First step in putting the dough together is to dissolve your honey and yeast in your water by tossing them all in a large bowl (as this will be the same one used to mix the rest of the ingredients) and stirring a bit. Let that sit ten minutes then add 1 cup of the flour, all of the semolina, the oil and the salt. Mix those together well, adding flour all the while, until you’ve got a nice ball-esque bit of dough. Flour a kneading surface and knead for about ten minutes until the ball is firm and smooth and uniform and silky and doesn’t stick to your fingers anymore. Place the ball back in the bowl, cover with a tea towel and put it in your unheated oven or microwave (because these are really the best kitchen spots to let dough rise without interruption) for about an hour and a half or until it looks like this:
At which point you’ll want to punch it down, knead it for another 5 minutes and let is sleep for half an hour again.
This is a good time to start putting your guts together. Deciding what to stuff your calzone with is half the fun. As I said before, it’s a good thing to make to clear your fridge of vegies, meats, cheeses that are on their way out and need to be used up. The beauty is that once the calzoni are cooked, you can toss ’em in the freezer for later. They’re great things to pack for a brown bag lunch as they can be heated in the nuker pretty quickly and, depending on their stuffings, are pretty much a complete meal on their own.
For this batch we made two separate fillings; tomato/parsley/feta & spinach/mushroom/provolone. To those ingredients we added salt, pepper, nutmeg, oregano and wee bit of olive oil and tossed the lot of them until they looked like salads:
Now you’re ready to start stuffing your calzoni. First step is to divide the dough into 8 even(ish) balls. Then you roll (using a rolling pin) each ball out into a quarter inch thick circle. This is an imprecise art, folks. Don’t feel like your balls should be uniform in thickness or perfectly round – the dough is forgiving and I don’t know about you but I’m a complete failure at making anything even, but if you’re really OCD then I would suggest using an extra large coffee tin to cut your circles from your rolled out dough.
After rolling out each ball stuff it with about 1/2-3/4 of a cup of the filling of your choice. Be careful not to overstuff ’em. The dough is quite elastic and forgiving but will only handle so much stretching before it tears. Smear a little water along the edges and fold into half-moon shapes. Press the edges with a fork, et voila! You’ve got yummy little pockets just itching to get into the oven. Oh, and probably a very messy table.
You may want to clean that up before you actually begin the rolling and stuffing process. However, if you’re anything like me you’ll just work in the cracks between things.
Like pizza, your calzoni should bake at a relatively high temperature for a relatively (yes, I like my qualifiers) short period of time. Because we haven’t used any ingredients which actually need to cook inside our little pockets (raw meats, for example, which I really don’t suggest; cooked meats are a-ok, though) we can get away with that, but they do need to be cooked slightly differently than a pizza because the heat needs to get all the way through the guts and melt all of the delicious cheeses we used. I usually cook them at 425 degrees (preheat the oven) for about 15 minutes for the first go. I then the calzoni I want to freeze and put them on cooling racks, brush the ones I want to eat straight away with a little egg and pop those ones back in the oven until they’re a nice golden brown.
Here’s what they look like after 15 minutes:
If they don’t look that cooked then keep them in the oven for another couple of minutes or until they do.
And here’s what they look like after the egg brushing and another 10 minutes in the cooker:
Freezing instructional gubbins: I often double the ingredients listed above to reserve some calzoni for a later date. They’re perfect for tossing into lunches as they’ll thaw out in the hours before lunch time and can be reheated in a nukrowave in about three minutes on medium-high. To freeze them I simply flash freeze by popping them into the freezer, still on their cooling racks, once they’ve cooled to room temperature. I leave them in there like that for a couple of hours then package them in freezer bags and return them to their icy new home.