Calzone translates to “stocking” in Italian. It’s basically a fancy turnover or folded pizza. They are baked and typically shaped like a half-moon or a pod. The traditional calzone is stuffed with tomato and mozzarella, and may include other ingredients that are associated with pizza toppings. I’ve had this pizza dough recipe for many years. It originally came from a Pizza cookbook simply titled, Pizza by James McNair. I serve these calzones with a warm garlicky marinara sauce on the side.
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup warm (110 to 115 degree) water
- 1 envelope (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
- 3¼ cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 8 ounces mozzarella, grated
- 1 pound ricotta cheese
- 8 ounces parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 can black olives, whole, pitted, and drained
- 3 ounces basil, torn into small pieces
- 1 heirloom tomato, chopped, seeded, and drained
- 4 ounces pancetta or bacon, cooked and chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a small bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water. For temperature accuracy, insert an instant-read thermometer in the water. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and stir gently until it dissolves, about 1 minute. When yeast is mixed with the water at the proper temperature, a smooth, beige-colored mixture results. Let stand in a warm spot until a thin layer of foam covers the surface, about 6 minutes.
- Combine 3 cups of the flour with the salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture and the oil. Using a wooden spoon, vigorously stir the flour into the well until incorporated and the soft dough just begins to hold together.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough gently. While kneading, very gradually add just enough of the remaining ¼ cup flour until the dough is no longer tacky, about 5 minutes. Knead until the dough is smooth and shiny, about 10 minutes longer.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a well-oiled bowl, turning to coat evenly. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set to rise in a warm place (75-85 degrees) until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the filling by combining cheeses, olives, basil, tomato, pancetta, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Punch down the dough as soon as it doubles in bulk.
- Shape it into a ball and press out all the air bubbles.
- Cut the dough in half and form into balls. Place a ball of dough onto a lightly floured surface and dust the top of the dough, then roll it out with a floured rolling pin until it is about ¼ inch thick. Lay the dough on a cornmeal-dusted pizza peel. Fill and fold in half (in the shape of a pod), bringing the edges together. Repeat with the other ball of dough.
- Brush with olive oil and transfer immediately to a 500 degree oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Slice, and serve with warm tomato sauce.
Pair these pods with a ripe and concentrated Valpolicella Ripasso from Veneto. This varietal comes from the Italian “ripasso” tradition of adding semi-dried grapes to the juice while it is fermenting. It is wonderfully smooth and bursts with flavours of red currants, raisins, and dark chocolate.
Movie Night suggestion: “Don’t sleep. Never go to sleep, because when you close your eyes, they come. They come and snatch your mind away. A pod-person from outer space will reproduce himself as you.” A small-town doctor discovers that the population of his community is being replaced by emotionless alien duplicates in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). Filmed in 23 days, the cast and crew worked six days a week with Sundays off.
Film notes: In 1994, Invasion of the Body Snatchers was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by The Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
Sam Peckinpah (Director extraordinaire) has a small role in the film as a meter man. He also worked on the film as a dialogue coach. Throughout the years, Peckinpah claimed that he reworked the script. Those claims were possibly inflated. The actual writer, Daniel Mainwaring, threatened to file an official complaint with the WGA and Peckinpah backed down. When he died in 1984, many obits still claimed that he had rewritten the screenplay for this film.
Only $15,000 of the budget was spent on special fx.
Back in the 50s, it was uncool to mix comedy with horror (sorry Sam Raimi). During test screenings, much of the film’s original humour was cut when the audience laughed in all the wrong places. The studio insisted on edits. “The horror.” The decision to give hope to the audience was also forced upon the Director (Don Siegel) by the studio. I dislike the ending and would prefer the original intention to end the film with Miles (Kevin McCarthy) trying to warn people of the alien invaders, in vain.
During its original release, large paper mache pods were displayed in lobbies. They actually look a lot like calzones. Cin cin!