Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Everything Calzone

I'm a firm believer that food doesn't always have to look beautiful, and I'm not just saying this because the calzone that I made looks a bit like a sunburnt foot. Sure it's nice to make something that's all symmetrical and perfect-looking, but sometimes the rustic route just does it for me. With perfection you don't get the uneven bits that crisp up better than the rest. You don't get those fat mouthfuls that are devoid of anything except gooey cheese. And sometimes, with perfection you plain just don't fit it in the baking tray. I call this the Everything Calzone because that's pretty much what it is; everything that's sitting in the fridge that would taste good cooked and encrusted in a golden dough shell finds it's way in there. The Everything Calzone starts on a Friday with personal pizzas. Get some friends round, buy a ton of meats, cheeses, fillings and whatever, make a load of pizza dough, do personal pizzas, have a few drinks - you're officially the coolest person in the world. Better yet, there's always going to be dough and fillings left over for a Sunday calzone and maybe a cheeky garlic bread or two.
The basic pizza dough recipe starts with 500g of white flour and a couple of teaspoons of salt, sieved into a large bowl. Mix a 7g sachet of dry yeast, a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 a tablespoon of caster sugar into about 320ml of lukewarm water. Add the liquid mixture bit by bit, stirring constantly until it starts to come together, then go in with your hands, mixing it up until you have a dough that you can turn out onto the countertop (which you so cleverly have pre-dusted with flour). Knead until it's nice and springy, then put back in the bowl, cover with a damp towel and leave in a warm place for an hour. Once it's doubled in size, punch it back down (the MOST fun), knead it out and portion. I have no clue about weights, but a ball the size in the picture above makes a deliciously king-sized calzone.
Roll your dough out flat on a floured work surface then ideally transfer to a sheet of baking parchment or a massive baking tray. Note that I did neither. I am a nincompoop. When you start loading the calzone (and load it we will), funnily enough it just gets harder and harder to move around until you're left wondering how you're going to fit the dining table into the oven. Start off with a nice tomato sauce base, spread on just over half of the dough. Homemade is ideal, but this was a lazy one for me.
You can go in with anything you want here, literally go nuts. I packed mine high with some broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peas, onions, artichoke....
...spinach, loads of grated cheese, and of course all of the meat you can possibly get your hands on. This picture doesn't really do it justice, but I had some salami, some pancetta, a bit of pastrami going on, some ham, a few slices of was pretty epic. Make sure you leave a good half inch clear or so around the edge or else you won't be able to fold the dough over and you'll end up with a pizza, and a very odd looking one at that. Salt, pepper and olive oil your creation and then wet the edge on the half with the filling, stretch over the other half of dough, trim off the excess dough, crimp the edges with a fork and you're done.*
*All easier said than done. But play around with it, get a bit messy and see what happens. Try not to tear the dough, but it's certainly no waste if it has to be patched up a bit. This is roundabout the time when I realised that I had forgotten to put something underneath and began furiously scratching my head. If you're feeling super fancy you can brush it with egg wash for an extra crisp, then bang it in the oven at about 200C, for maybe 30 minutes or so (scientific, I know) but keep checking to make sure. This is one of those things that you know when it's done - it just looks ready to eat.
Once it's finished, slice it up, serve with some salad and marvel at the delicious food you created with your own two hands. Then think about all the cleaning up you have to get started on with your own two hands. If there's any chance that any of this guy survives the evening, it's equally awesome cold for lunch the next day. You're welcome.