Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Chicken and Broccoli Calzone

1/2 cup of cooked chicken, cut into chunks
1/4 cup broccoli florets
1/4 cup white sauce
1/4 cup mozzarella or to taste
1/3 of a batch of pizza dough
olive oil to brush on

Roll out or stretch the dough on a well floured surface till it is a 14 inch or so circle. Spread sauce on the lower half making sure to stay at least an inch from the edge. Then put on chicken, cheese and broccoli. Fold the dough over the fillings and press the border in with your fingers. Then fold the border in half over itself and press firmly to form a seal. Slice a couple small holes in the top and brush it with olive oil. Bake at 450 (preferably on a pizza stone) for 25 minutes or till brown. Serve.


For those of you playing along at home, my last three posts were all recipes where I said they were ingredients for something else. This is that something else. I love calzones, I don't know exactly what it is about them, but they are just awesome. I like this particular combination, it's like chicken, ziti and broccoli, just in pizza dough instead of with pasta. I have often toyed with putting some ziti in it, but never really bothered. There are enough carbs in it as is I think. Heh.

Now, there are a couple things to bear in mind with regards to the previous couple recipes. If you use the braised chicken recipe, keep aside at least one clove of garlic from the braising liquid. Mush it up into a paste and mix it into the white sauce when you add the milk, otherwise add some minced garlic when you are melting the butter. Garlic in the white sauce is key for this. Also add a dash of tarragon to the white sauce, it works really well with the rest of the flavors. Now, if you really want good pizza or calzones you need to get one of these. A pizza stone. They aren't expensive and they are just the best. You can use them to make pita bread too. You might also want to invest in one of these. A peel. They aren't expensive either and make putting something on the stone much less painful. If you have a stone, put it on the lowest rack and preheat the oven at 450 for an hour. It will make a huge difference. Ok, enough of that, lets make calzones!

First take a third of a batch of pizza dough. If you are using store bought dough then use... uhm... a six inch ball or so. I think. It's not rocket science. Roll it out till it's a fourteen inch or so circle. It being circular isn't really too important, as you can tell. You want it about a quarter of an inch thick, so if you used less dough it will be smaller, more dough it will be larger. In case you couldn't figure that out. Now put the sauce on but make sure to keep it about an inch from the edge. Getting sauce or any kind of liquid on the edge will keep it from sealing up and make a mess of your pan or pizza stone. Follow that up with the chicken, then the cheese, then the broccoli. The order isn't terribly important, but you want the sauce on the bottom and the cheese not on the top. Otherwise they will ooze out of the holes in the top while it's cooking and make a mess of things. If you want your broccoli soft you can precook it, but I always use raw. It still gets pretty soft and it doesn't get all squishy. Squishy broccoli upsets me. Now take the top of the dough and fold it over till the edges touch. Press the edges together firmly, making it thin enough that you can fold it over on itself. Which is what you do next. Fold it in half on itself and press it firmly so it forms a good seal. You don't want your fillings to come busting out of this. Now you want to brush it with something. You can use melted butter, bacon grease or an egg wash, but what I am using is some olive oil that I have infused with garlic and rosemary. Very fancy-pants of me. To do this you just take a couple cloves of garlic and crush them a bit. Then take some rosemary, all I have is dried right now but fresh is even better, and put them in a container. Add some olive oil and let it sit for several hours or days or whatever. Now the oil tastes like garlic and rosemary. Good stuff. Brush that on top and the sides then cut a couple small slits in the top so it doesn't explode. Now if you are using a peel you want to make sure it either has corn meal or flour on it so the calzone will slide. You really don't want it getting hung up on there. If you are using a pan you should consider putting some parchment paper on it, it will make the bottom crust nice and brown. Now slide the calzone off the peel onto the preheated stone. Or toss the pan in the oven. Cook this baby till it's golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Then eat it. They don't always come out cylindrical like this, the other one I made came out much more traditional in shape. Shape doesn't really matter much to me. It's all about flavor. And these came out wicked good.

Now this, of course, is just one of the ways to do a calzone. There are as many ways to make them as there are things to stuff them with. You can go classic and do tomato sauce and meatballs, one of my other favorites. One time I made some with leftover pot roast, onions, peppers and brown gravy. That was really good too. Wrap up cooked Italian sausages with sauteed peppers and onions; hamburger patty pieces with ketchup, mustard and cheese; kielbasa and barbecue sauce; lamb and rice pilaf; all the stuff you would put in an Italian sub, whatever you want. Once I even filled it with apple pie filling and rubbed cinnamon sugar and butter on top. But of course, I'm a madman. You might not want to try anything so crazy. Heh.

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