Sunday, August 22, 2010


We love Italian food in our house. One of my favorite qualities of Italian cooking is the wide range of ingredients that most often are fail-proof. For instance, pizza is so versatile we love to experiment with toppings.

Our new favorite recipe that is bound to be an outlet in our food creativity is calzones. I found this recipe and I love the creaminess of the ricotta, the sausage is delicious and the dough surprisingly light and flavorful. I can't wait until next time I make this to add some mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, and maybe cook it one or two with pepperoni per the kids' request.

Ricotta Calzones with Sausage
Taste and Tell's slight adaptation from The New Best Recipe

4 cups bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon warm water

1 15-ounce container whole-milk ricotta cheese
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 1/2 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 ounces hot or sweet sausage
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing on tops
Kosher salt or coarse sea salt for sprinkling on tops

FOR THE DOUGH: In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk the flour, yeast, and salt to combine. Attach the bowl, and with mixer running on medium-low speed with the dough hook, add the olive oil, then gradually add the water. Continue to mix until the mixture comes together and a soft, elastic dough is formed - about 10 minutes. Lightly spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Place the dough in the bowl and cover. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled - 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

FOR THE FILLING: In a medium bowl, stir together the cheeses, egg yolk, oregano, salt, and black pepper. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Remove the casings from the sausage. Cook the sausage in a skillet, breaking it up into 1/2 inch pieces, until it is cooked through. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes until fragrant, about 10 seconds and remove from heat. Set aside to cool.

TO ASSEMBLE AND BAKE: Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and set a pizza stone on the rack. Heat the oven to 500 degrees for AT LEAST 30 minutes. Divide the dough in half, and then divide each half into thirds, giving you 6 pieces of dough. Gently shape each piece into a ball and set on a piece of parchment paper that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 15 minutes, but no more than 30 minutes.

Form the calzones by rolling each piece of dough into a 9-inch circle then placing 1/2 cup of the filling on half of the circle and topping with 1/6 of the sausage. Fold the top half of the dough over, leaving a 1/2 inch border uncovered. Lightly press the dough to seal it. Beginning at one end, place your index finger diagonally across the edge and gently pull the bottom layer of the dough over the tip of your finger. Repeat until the calzone is sealed.

With a very sharp paring knife or razor blade, cut 5 slits, about 1 1/2 inches long diagonally across the top of each calzone. Make sure not to cut completely through the calzone, but to just cut through the top layer.

Brush the top of each calzone with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake until golden brown - about 11 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before serving. While the first batch is baking, prepare the second batch.

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