Did you ever have that one job that was just a blast even though at the time it was rough? Right after I graduated high school my brother started a local pizza shop that lasted for about 17 plus years. It was pretty successful for a single location and had high volume. The pizza was great as were the umpteem other items we sold. We had our signature items that we were known for and we were that pizza shop that did all of the pizza for the various games, associations and functions. While I was home from school either on break or the summer I worked there. Now one thing I HATED about that job was it was hot. No, you don’t understand when I say it was hot. We’re talking the dead of summer, 90+ degrees outside and you’re standing next to a deck or conveyor pizza oven, the grill and fryer. You’re easily at 115F. Oh did I mention the 472% humidity because it was in Pittsburgh? No? Oh yes, it was quite lovely… NOT!
We’d all fight over going to the walk in cooler to get “something”… anything out of there just to get a quick 10 second blast of arctic air. The thing is, coming out of that cooler made it worse as it seemed even hotter and stickier. Now working with family is rough. I mean ROUGH with a capital “Dear GOD!” No matter how civilized and professional you keep it you never lose fact that you’re siblings which means you fight like cats and dogs at times. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve all ‘quit’ that place (for an hour) only to jump right back in when we got swamped. It was rough but still, even in the sweltering heat it was fun. We had our cuss buckets, made our own concoctions, made fun of each other, argued, laughed till we cried and just had fun. The best was this one Saturday night in August. It was hot. No I’m talking STICKY butt-nasty hot. We were miserable as there just seemed to be zero air flow and we all just wanted to leave. So we devised a plan with the help of my sister-in-law. See my brother always seemed to manage around cleaning time to take a milk crate to go outside and ‘do PR’. We called it ‘Waffle Butt Time’ as when you sat on that milk crate, after you stood up you got waffle butt. LOL that’s right, you know what I’m talking about.
Anyway, we decided we were closing early but we knew the only way we could do it was to trick my brother. Working as a team we put all of the clocks, our watches and so forth a few hours ahead. This way even though it was really only 10pm, the clocks said midnight which mean “We’re closed! Time to clean up!”. Cindy announced for Dave (my brother) to come in and do the registers while we cleaned. Now he came in kind of perplexed because he thought he hadn’t been outside that long but we convinced him he was out there for hours (yeah I know, evil! But damn it, it was HOT!). We were out of that place in 30 minutes and went to our usual post work Saturday night dinner. No one broke a smile or cracked UNTIL we got to our hangout and our waitress said “Wow you guys are here early, slow night?” Yeah.. she blew our cover. The look on his super ticked off face was PRICELESS. All we (okay me especially) could do was belly laugh. The madder he got, the louder we laughed to the point some of us snorted from laughing.
Ahhh good times… So as I mentioned earlier we made tons of concoctions and our signature items. One of those items was our calzones. Next to the JC Special Hoagie those calzones were my all time favorite foods there. If you’ve never had a calzone, the easiest way to describe it is to make a pizza but only put the stuff on one half of it, fold it over like a half-moon and bake it. You can make them as small as hand-sized (some call them Panzarottis) and as big as 20″ in length. Those were the behemoth sized ones that were family sized though I knew a few guys that ate a whole one themselves. This recipe actually makes 2-12″ calzones but you can make one bigger one. Or you can make both but then once the second one is cool, freeze it and have it later.
What’s awesome about calzones is, like pizza, you can stuff them with anything you want. I’ve had them with the standard pizza toppings, I’ve made chicken Parmesan versions. What else? All veggie, seafood with an alfredo sauce, cheeseburger filled, carnitas, macaroni ‘n cheese (yep) and even a dessert filled one – I’ll have to share with you my strawberry cheesecake filled one some day.
With these calzones the biggest debate is whether or not to add ricotta cheese to it or not. It’s a 50/50 split amongst most restaurants/pizza shops that serve them. It doesn’t matter to me if it has it or not but I am really picky as to what other toppings I have in with it. Plus more importantly, the ricotta MUST BE DRAINED first otherwise it’ll end up soggy inside. Now that may not happen as soon as you get it but if you have leftovers, it’ll be soggy the next day. Hate that! Perfect waste of awesome food!
Well the other day I was feeling nostalgic about those old pizza shop days and since I had just made my weekly batch of pizza dough I decided to set some aside and make myself a calzone. If you can stretch or roll out pizza dough, you can make these. my best advice I can give you is when you stretch or roll out the dough it has to be uniform in thickness. Or at best, have it be slightly thicker on the bottom (where you put your toppings) than the top. The bottom is where all of the weight will be due to the toppings. Trust me, nothing is worse than making this gorgeous calzone only to have it stick to the screen when trying to take it out of the oven. You lose half of your toppings and a little bit of your heart dies. Well okay maybe that only happens to me and my heart.
I mean look at those pictures of that gorgeous crusty airy dough filled with all that ooey gooey cheese, bacon, sausage and the rest of the awesomeness inside. What’s funny is I don’t ever recall making Mr. Fantabulous one of these so when he spied this he was like “OHHHHHHHHHHH WHAT’SSSSSS THAT and CAN I HAVE SOME/ALL OF IT???” haha yeah I had a small piece to which I somehow “lost” the rest of it… to his belly.
I’m thinking the next one I make, and there will be a next one will have shaved cooked ribeye steak, crispy bacon, cheddar, provolone and american cheese and caramelized onions. How about you? How would you fill these babies?Print
- 1 – 16 ounce Best Pizza Dough, divided in half
- 4 cups shredded provolone/mozzarella cheese, divided
- 8 ounces sliced pepperoni
- 10 slices of crispy bacon, rough chopped
- 2 cups cooked Italian sausage, rough chopped
- 2 cups sliced button mushrooms
- 2 cups pizza sauce
- Follow the instructions on making the Best Pizza Dough.Thirty minutes before baking (and the dough is ready), place a Pizza Stone on the lower third rack or invert a metal pan and place it on the rack.
- Preheat oven to 500F for 30 minutes. In addition, have a rack in the middle of the oven as well.
- If using the pizza stone or inverted pan, stretch out the dough and place on flour & semolina dusted paddle. If you don’t have a paddle stretch out on a flour & semolina dusted parchment paper.
- Stretch one of the dough balls into a 12” round circle of even thickness. Place the dough on your pizza screen or paddle.
- Place 1 cup of cheese on half of the pizza spreading it out to within 1/2” to the edge. (you’ll be folding the dough in half so only place the cheese on the half below where you would fold it – think crescent moon).
- On top of that place 4 ounces of pepperoni, half of the bacon, 1 cup of sausage, and 1 cup of mushrooms spreading it out evenly to within 1/2” to the edge of the dough.
- Ladle 1/2 cup of sauce over top ensuring you do not go to the edge. You need the edges kept clean to seal. Top with 1 cup of cheese.
- Fold, pull, and gently stretch the top of the dough to cover the ingredients.
- Lightly press the edges together and crimp the edges to seal shut. To crimp is to decoratively fold the edges of it, slightly overlapping the folds to create a rounded border.
- Cut a few small vents into the top of the calzone. You need to let the steam from the filling escape otherwise it will explode in your oven.
- Bake on the lower rack where the pizza stone or inverted pan for 8-10 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. *If you would like the top to be a bit browner/crisp, move the cooked calzone to the last minute to the middle rack.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before cutting else you run the risk of all of your filling oozing out.
- While this is cooling, make the second calzone with the remaining ingredients.
Roasted Veggies Calzone
1 – 16 ounce Best Pizza Dough, divided in half
4 cups shredded provolone/mozzarella cheese, divided
2 cups Ricotta
2 cups pizza sauce
2 cups chopped portabellos
1 large bell pepper, seeded and cut into chunks
1 red onion cut into chunks
8-10 asparagus stalks, cut into 1″ pieces
2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp onion powder
1 tsp oregano
2-3 Tbl olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Place all of the vegetables on a large, rimmed sheet pan and drizzle with the oil.
3. In a bowl mix together all of the spices and then sprinkle on vegetables.
4. With your hands gently mix/toss the vegetables to coat.
5. Roast for 20 minutes in a single layer.
6. Remove from the oven give it a quick stir and check for doneness. You want the vegetables to be just slightly soft but not mushy. They should still have a little bit of firmness to it. If they are still too firm, roast for another 5 minutes.
7. Remove from the oven and place the vegetables on a paper towel lined plate.
8. Follow the instructions on making the Best Pizza Dough.
9. Thirty minutes before baking (and the dough is ready), place a Pizza Stone on the lower third rack or invert a metal pan and place on the rack.
10. Preheat oven to 500F for 30 minutes. *if using a Pizza Screen , do not preheat the screen but place the oven rack on the lower third rung. In addition have a rack in the middle of the oven as well.
11. If using the pizza stone or inverted pan, stretch out the dough and place on a flour dusted paddle. If you don’t have a paddle stretch out on a flour/corn meal dusted parchment paper.
12. Stretch one of the dough balls into a 12” round circle of even thickness.
13. Place the dough on your pizza screen or paddle.
14. Place 1 cup of cheese on half of the pizza spreading it out to within 1/2” to the edge. (you’ll be folding the dough in half so only place the cheese on the half below where you would fold it – think crescent moon).
15. On top of that place half of the roasted vegetables spreading it out evenly to within 1/2” to the edge of the dough.
16. Ladle 1/2 cup of sauce over top ensuring you do not go to the edge. You need the edges kept clean to seal.
17. Top with 1 cup of cheese and ricotta.
18. Fold, pull and gently stretch the top of the dough to cover the ingredients.
19. Lightly press the edges together and crimp the edges to seal shut. To crimp is to decoratively fold the edges of it, slightly overlapping the folds to create a rounded border.
20. Cut a few small vents into the top of the calzone. You need to let the steam from the filling to escape otherwise it will explode in your oven.
21. Bake on the lower rack for 8-10 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
22. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before cutting else you run the risk of all of your filling oozing out.
23. While this is cooling, make the second calzone with the remaining ingredients.