The other night I took our puppy, Chewie, outside to poo. As he sniffed around for what seemed like an eternity I happened to tilt my head up at the night’s sky. It had been way to long since I’d taken a moment to stargaze. I can’t think of anything more impressive, inspiring, and humbling than realizing you’re just a speck of start dust in an infinitely massive universe. In junior high and high school my family had a trampoline in the backyard. Sometimes I would lay down on that dusty, bouncy surface to stare up at those alien suns illuminating our night. To think that our little planet managed to be in just the right place at the right time to initiate life is mind-blowing.
Not only are we lucky enough to have a plethora of life in an otherwise cold universe, but we also have intelligence and culture. We have language, literature, music, and my favorite, food. Finding or writing recipes to post for Handle the Heat can sometimes feel like a chore when I have a million other things to do. But when I think about the awesomeness of the universe and our planet, I can’t help but be inspired.
Taste: Spicy, slightly acidic from the tomato sauce and the marinated artichokes, cheesy, just all-around savory.
Texture: The dough is slightly crisp on the outside, fluffy inside, all enveloping cheesy meaty goodness.
Ease: You can make the dough ahead of time and refrigerate it overnight or freeze it for months. The filing takes about 15 minutes total.
Appearance: These calzones just beg to be bitten into.
Pros: Fun, full of flavor, surprisingly easy.
Cons: Not very healthful.
Would I make this again? Yes.
Sausage & Artichoke Calzones
Here is a tutorial for making pizza dough.
Yield: 2 large calzones (serves 4)
For the dough:
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 package (2 1/2 teaspoons) quick-rise yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees), plus extra if needed
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra if needed
For the filling:
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
All-purpose flour for dusting
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 jar (6 1/2 ounces) marinated artichoke hearts, drained and cut into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
1/2 cup shredded Italian Fontina or smoked mozzarella cheese
6-8 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
1/2 cup tomato sauce, warmed or at room temperature
For the dough:
Food processor method: In a food processor, combine the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Pulse to mix together. With the motor running, add the water and olive oil in a steady stream, and then pulse until the dough comes together in a rough mass, about 12 seconds. If the dough does not form into a ball, sprinkle with 1-2 teaspoons of water and pulse again until a ball forms. Let the dough rest for 5-10 minutes. Process again for 25-30 seconds, steadying the top of the food processor with one hand. The dough should be tacky to the touch but not sticky. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and form into a smooth ball with your hands. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, turn to coat with oil, and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk and spongy, about 1 1/2 hours.
Stand mixer method: Fit the mixer with the dough hook attachment and combine the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, yeast, and salt. Mix together. On low speed, add the water and olive oil in a steady stream and mix until the dough comes together in a rough mass. If the dough does not form into a ball, sprinkle with 1-2 teaspoons of water and mix again until a ball forms. Let the dough rest 5-10 minutes. Process again 5-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and form into a smooth ball with your hands. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, turn to coat with oil, and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk and spongy, about 1 1/2 hours.
Once dough is risen, turn out onto a lightly floured work surface, punch it down, and shape into a smooth cylinder. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball, dusting with flour only if the dough becomes sticky. Cover both balls of dough with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes before proceeding.
Place one ball of dough in a zip-top bag and freeze for up to 2 months for later use (when ready to use, thaw the frozen dough for 3-4 hours at room temperature). Reserve remaining ball of dough for calzones.
Place a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 450°F. Heat stone for 45-60 minutes.
For the calzones:
In a small nonstick frying pan set over medium-low heat, cook the sausage, breaking up into small pieces, until no longer pink, about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Combine sausage, artichokes, 1/3 cup Parmesan, Fontina, and basil in a medium bowl.
Beat egg and milk in a small bowl.
Cover a work surface with two sheets of parchment paper. Divide the ball of dough in half and shape each half into a ball. Place each half of dough on its own parchment sheet. Roll out each ball of dough into a 7-inch round of even thickness. Cover rounds with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 5 minutes.
Season dough rounds lightly with salt and pepper. Spoon one-half of sausage-artichoke mixture onto one half of each dough round, leaving a 3/4-inch border uncovered. Don't mound the filling too high. Gently fold the uncovered half over the covered half to enclose the filling. Pinch the edges firmly with your fingers and crimp with the back of a fork. Repeat with second dough round. Brush the tops of calzones with egg-milk mixture. Sprinkle calzones with remaining 1 tablespoon Parmesan. Cut a small steam vent in the top of each calzone. Using a pizza peel or rimless baking sheet, carefully slide the calzone-topped parchment paper onto the hot pizza stone. bake until golden, about 15 minutes.
Use a pizza peel to remove calzone from oven and transfer to a cutting board. Let stand 15 minutes, then cut into halves and serve warm with tomato sauce on the side.