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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Italian Sausage Calzones with Homemade Marinara


Friday afternoon was spent with my mother and my neice in the kitchen on a creative bent.  I just bought a "calzone maker" from Williams Sonoma and was dying to try it.  This little gadget would be great to make fruit pies, etc with as well.  We had a great time and it was definitely worth the dirty countertops!  Everything was from scratch today - the dough, the marinara, and the filling!


And if you are really pressed for time, you could get by with using a pre-made pizza crust.  They are sold in the cooler by the canned biscuits in your grocery market.  You can also stop on the way home and pick up a dough ball at a pizza shop!  :)

Marinara Ingredients:
28 oz can         crushed tomatoes with basil
1 Tbsp             extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves           garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup            diced onion
1/3 cup            diced carrot
fresh herbs       oregano, basil, parsley, thyme
1 cup               red wine (I used a shiraz)
1 1/2 tsp          pizza seasoning (a blend of dried herbs)
1 1/2 tsp          salt
1/4 tsp             red pepper flakes
1 tsp                sugar
1/4 cup            freshly grated parmesan cheese

  • sauted the garlic, onion, and carrots in a pot for several minutes until they start to soften.
  • deglaze with red wine
  • add crushed tomatoes and rest of the dry seasonings to the pot
  • simmer for 30 minutes or so until you develop the flavor you like
  • add a handful of mixed, fresh herbs in the last few minutes and then remove from heat. 




Dough:
Get the pizza stone preheated at 500 F from the very beginning!  I just love putting some fresh herbs into the dough because it has such a prettier finish with all the specks of color in it... and putting the parmesan cheese into the dough gives it a little more saltiness and changes the texture of the finished product. 
  • 2-3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 pkg yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp canola or olive oil
  • 1 tsp each dried herbs (oregano, basil, italian seasoning)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
    1. Start adding flour (at least one cup) before adding salt, then add cheese and herbs, then more flour.
    2. Kneed the dough for 5 - 8 minutes... stretching and turning each time. It will get nice and elastic with a silky feel.
    3. Put the oil in a large bowl, turn the dough ball over a couple of times in the oil to coat. 
    4. Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and microwave at Power 1 for 2 minutes, then let rest 10 min. Repeat until dough doubles.
    5. Punch down, divide into 6 pieces, and roll out just before ready. 
    The dough after rising for a while
    Filling:
    I would say here to knock yourself our and go crazy with whatever kind of filling you desire.  I'm really thinking that chicken, artichoke and spinach in a bechamel sauce would be delicious.  Maybe next time!





    • 1 lb Italian sausage
    • 1 cup marinara
    • sliced roma tomatoes
    • chunks soft fresh mozzarella
    • handful chopped fresh herbs
    • your choice of cheese blend
    ** I hardly EVER recommend pre-grated cheese, because it has much less flavor than cheese you grate yourself, but a "pizza blend" of cheeses would work really well here (yes - the kind in the bag!).  If I had one criticism of my final dish, it was that it needed to be more gooey with cheese.... so add more cheese!!
    1. Remove the sausage from the casings and break apart in a skillet.  Cook until the sausage is browned through, but still soft.
    2. Mix the sausage with a cup of the marinara that you have simmering in that pot and smelling up the house.
    3. Have other filling ingredients ready - cheese, tomatoes, herbs, etc.

    chunks of fresh mozzarella
    sliced roma tomatoes

    The building process:
    This is really the fun part - and the part where you bring in the kids and let everyone participate in the assembly!

    Roll out a piece of dough on a floured surface until it's approximately an 8 inch circle. Don't forget to flour your rolling pin as well! You can use the open calzone mold as a guide if this is the method you are using.
    An 8-inch dough circle
    Sprinkle the mold with just a tiny bit of flour.
    Lay the dough over the open mold and add your filling of choice - I added 1/3 cup of the filling as above, then layered it with thinly sliced tomatoes, chunks of mozzarella cheese, and a sprinkling of more herbs. If you don't have a calzone mold, just add your filling to one side - being careful to not get any filling on the edges.
    cover mold
    add fillings
    • Flip the dough over and close the mold, pressing to seal and crimp.
      fold
      crimp
    • If no mold, use your finger to dampen the edges of the dough with water and close the dough, then crimp with a fork to seal.
    Brush the top of the calzone with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle the top with herbs and grated

    Parmesan.
      top and decorate
      
    Transfer calzones two at a time to a pizza peel that has been sprinkled with cornmeal.  This will keep them from sticking and allow them to slide off onto the pizza stone.  This is the "stuff" you feel under the bottom of your pizza when you go to a brick oven pizza place.
    Bake at 500 F for 10 - 12 minutes (I baked all of mine for 10 min).
      fresh from the oven
    Remove from oven with the peel and allow to sit about 5 minutes before eating.  They are like pockets of molten lava at this point, so I don't advise biting into one right out of the oven.
    Serve calzones with a little dish of the marinara that you made for "dipping" and a little grating of parmesan.
    Enjoy!!
      the finished calzones
    This recipe yields 6 nice sized calzones.
    Notes:
    • These dough balls freeze really well and can be just thawed, and rolled out at a later time.
    • The marinara will just improve in flavor if you make it in advance, and it also freezes well.
    • So.... this recipe lends itself well to making the components ahead of time and having a "make your own calzone" party; or for most of us, prepping the components on the weekend and putting them together for dinner during the busy week.
    • FYI - the Williams-Sonoma Calzone Mold was $12.  That was a lot of entertainment for the money!
    • In a time crunch, I don't see why you couldn't just get the pre-made pizza dough from the can or freezer section.
    • sauted the garlic, onion, and carrots in a pot for several minutes until they start to soften.
    • deglaze with red wine
    • add crushed tomatoes and rest of the dry seasonings to the pot
    • simmer for 30 minutes or so until you develop the flavor you like
    • add a handful of mixed, fresh herbs in the last few minutes and then remove from heat.
    • Kneed the dough for 5 - 8 minutes... stretching and turning each time. It will get nice and elastic with a silky feel.
    • Put the oil in a large bowl, turn the dough ball over a couple of times in the oil to coat. 
    • Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and microwave at Power 1 for 2 minutes, then let rest 10 min. Repeat until dough doubles.
    • Punch down, divide into 6 pieces, and roll out just before ready.



    Please visit my Recipe Index for more soups and lots of different ideas to cook with/for your family!   Here are a few different things:
     

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