Part of why I love to brew so much is I love to see how ingredients work together. In short, I love to cook and have been into it since I was about thirteen years-old. Recently, I’ve been experimenting with calzones and how I can make a terrific one. Well, I finally found the keeper and wanted to share it with our reading community. Of course, there is beer involved in the process, so don’t worry.
Here is the basic recipe. I have to credit, Amy for her simple calzone recipe as pretty much the basis for what I’m doing with mine, but I’ve tried to improve upon it for my needs.
3 cups flour (all purpose works fine)
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon sugar (I like a slightly sweeter dough)
4 teaspoons yeast (a packet is typically 2 1/4 teaspoons)
7/8 cup water (I like to mix half water and half beer)
1/8 cup + 1 more Tablespoon Olive Oil (you’ll notice that I like quite a bit of olive oil in the recipe)
Here are the instructions for the dough: Take everything but the flour and yeast and stir together, making sure it’s between 105-120º. Add the yeast and stir, allowing to re-hydrate for about 15 min. Once the yeast is frothy, add it to the flour and mix it with a spoon until it’s a very loose dough. Pick up the loose dough and kneed it by hand until it’s smooth and supple. This should be a 5 to 10 min process. Place the dough in an (olive) oiled bowl and move it around ensuring that the dough is coated. Let it sit in a warm place for about an hour. I like to heat my oven at the setting of 200° (or the lowest setting) for about 2 min and turn it off. Then I place the dough in there, which encourages it to rise fast an become airy.
Once the dough is doubled, punch it down and kneed it until the oil oil absorbs and there is a smooth dough again. Break the dough into 4 balls and let them rise for about 20 min. Take the individual balls, along with a little flour and work them into thin circular disks. Add your favorite ingredients and fold the dough over itself into a half circle and cook.
Tip: This calzone is good cooked in the oven. But I found what really took this recipe to the next level was grilling it over charcoal and wood chips. With a brush, I add a little olive oil while the calzone is cooking on the grill. This soaks into the dough and encourages the smokiness to come with it. I cook both sides of the calzone until it darkens quite a bit (3-5 min each side) and then move them to the edges and close the grill up. In effect, I’m baking them on the grill. Believe me when I tell you that this makes a world of difference. Plus, I’m not heating up the house. The total cooking time should be about 15-20 min, but keep a close eye on them. Forget the wine, serve with a smoked beer or a smoky toned beer, and you will be in heaven.
Perfect Tomato Sauce: Unless you want to use fresh tomatoes and cook them down all day (I’ve done this), here is a quicker but great sauce for the filling. Of course, what you prefer can make all the difference, but I’m going to show you what I like to do so that my sauce will incorporate the entire filling of the calzone because I think it melds the flavors.
1 Onion (medium), caramelized on a lower heat setting. Add a bit of sugar to encourage this process.
1/4 cup of wine and a lighter bodied beer mixed (add after caramelization)
1 Teaspoon balsamic vinegar (add after caramelization)
add the rest of your veggies (garlic, bell peppers, banana peppers, hot peppers…all depend on your taste and how much you like them) cook until soft.
Add 15 ounces of tomato paste and more wine and beer.
Add marjoram, basil, oregano, thyme to taste. Marjoram is strong but important for a pizza sauce flavor.
Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
Add 2 to 4 teaspoons of sugar (I love sweet sauces) to taste
Add olives (if you like them and remember to account for the saltiness)
Add spinach, kale, chard, or nothing leafy. I find this is a good way to sneak in some extra nutrition.
A lot of this stuff is simply a matter of preference and tastes, which is why I don’t put amounts. Cook it the way you like it and you’ll find that it’s just right (for you at least). For instance, I like bold flavors, thick sweet sauces, beer flavors, plenty of garlic and a yeasty calzone. You’ll have to try this recipe and see what you like the best. At any rate, the dough is going to be the same, what you put inside makes it yours. Cheers!