Pepperoni Calzone Roll
This meal is great for company!!
Because if you’re like me, any cooking that goes on in your household either happens late at night or on weekends. Lord willing, the day will come when I am a stay-at-home-mom and can cook during the daytime. But that day is not today, nor is it tomorrow.
However, I LOVE to have company for dinner. And any meal I can make on a Saturday when my company is coming on Thursday (without sacrificing taste or aesthetic appeal) is a plus. Pepperoni calzone roll is just such a meal! The majority of the work can be done whenever you have a few hours of leisure, the unbaked roll can sit in the freezer until the day you need it, and voila! Rave reviews.
I start with the dough. I had a friend in college who used to make this meal all the time using frozen bread dough, so this is my variation on her idea, except I prefer to make my own pizza dough. Its easy and OH. SO. DELICIOUS.
For my pizza dough, I dump the following into my bread machine:
-1 1/2 C. warm water
-2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (aka: one packet)
-a Tablespoon (or so) of dried rosemary. Fresh works too, but mine won’t grow! What gives?!
-2 tsp. sugar or honey
-4 T. olive oil
-1/2 C. whole wheat flour
-3 1/2 C. bread flour (or all-purpose if its all you have)
-2 tsp. salt
A few tips:
1) Since my rosemary won’t grow and I’m forced to use dried, I like to put this directly into the water so it’ll have maximal time to soak up moisture. Ya get me?
2) I don’t add my salt until the dough has been working awhile. My good gal-pal Barefoot (you might know her as Ina Garten the Barefoot Contessa) says it can hinder the growth of the yeast initially, and I want happy reproductive yeast. So I utilize my excellent (read: horrendous) memory skills and re-enter the kitchen after the machine has been kneading for about 15 minutes, and that’s when I add the salt.
You don’t use the “Regular Loaf” bread machine cycle. (That actually cooks the dough for you in the machine.) You want to use the “Dough” cycle. Easy enough. That cycle will mix your dough into a smooth ball, and then provide it with a warm dry environment in which to puff up. When you hear the little bell (after about an hour an a half) the resulting dough should look something like this.
(I have to sprinkle flour onto a large sheet of wax paper, because unlike so many of you lucky people out there who are blissfully unaware of your blessings, my countertop is tile. The bread and pie maker’s worst enemy.)
Get plenty of flour on your surface, your dough, and your rolling pin, and roll away until you get a big rectangle. (FYI: I’ll go a little thicker next time I do this… you want your dough to be able to stand up to some pretty intense fillings.)
Yum! Spread your rectangle with a relatively even layer of your favorite sauce. (You can make your own, but I find this Burgundy Wine sauce to be splendid!) You want to add a sprinkle of salt once you’ve spread the sauce on. Don’t leave it out.
See how I left some space around the edges? Particularly the bottom edge? That’s important. A little leakage is to be expected, and its certainly nothing to freak out about, but we don’t want to inVITE it people! My oven floor is dirty enough as it is.
Now, go outside to the basil plants you so diligently cultivated this summer (even though it was 103 degrees every day in June and you had to water them every thirty minutes) and pluck a few leaves.
And chiffonade them thusly.
YUM!! Basil is my anti-drug.
But I’m going to hold off on adding it til I’ve layered on a few cheeses.
And before I can do that I need…
You are, of course, welcome to spend $8.99 on a fancy log of pepperoni from Whole Foods, but I recommend doing what I do. I happen to have discovered that DiGiorno is the best and only frozen pizza brand whose pepperoni is worth eating. It is divine. And every time I partake of a DiGiorno ‘zza (meaning: almost nightly) I peel about 8 of the pepperonies off and save them in a ziplock in my freezer. They add up fast and whenever I have an abundance, I make a homemade pizza or calzone. So there you go. By the way, my husband would be infuriated to see me calling them “pepperonies.” He’s a bit snobbish about the Italian language, and words ending in “i” (like panini) are already plural. So if you’re one of those people who says “paninis” he probably finds you annoying. He finds me annoying.
Next, start layering on cheeses.
And any others you like. Parmesan would be delicious. I’d add it but see… my fave cheese is coming later.
You can see I’ve also sprinkled on my basil at this point. Ever so evenly because I’m ocd that way.
I personally hate biting into a calzone and wishing I had extra sauce to dip it in. So I added a few extra drops for good measure.
Now comes my favorite pizza ingredient of all time.
Its a real zinger.
Too amazing for words.
You want to sprinkle this generously onto your calzone. And by that I mean, use the whole box. Add more pepperoni too. It is, afterall, a pepperoni calzone and pepperoni is the star of the show.
I’m totally drooling over this.
Now, I’ll take this time to say (although you’ve probably already deduced it) that this recipe is a great base for many types of calzones. You might be an eggplant-type guy or gal! Or a spinach/artichoke type. I like mushrooms in everything so I would definitely add those. Sundried tomatoes? Yes please. But since this particular meal was for company and I wasn’t sure they would be as into veggies on pizza as I am, I stuck with good ole’ pepperoni. Just make sure that whatever you add is sufficiently cooked to remove excess water before you add it (particularly if you’re thinking of adding spinach, or mushrooms, or bell peppers… you get the drift.)
I’ll also say now that you could just scrap the whole “roll” idea and just pop this whole thing in the oven as is! Pizza! Cook at 375 for 20-25 minutes and there you go.
But I had days to go before I could eat this bad boy and I wasn’t about to try and fit it into my freezer like this. Hence the next step(s).
Ahh! Within this bundle lurk some very good things.
Now, if you were going to go ahead and serve this tonight, you would dust a big pan with cornmeal, lay this roll on it, brush it with olive oil and italian seasoning, and watch it puff and rise for a few hours. Then it would bake at 375 for about half-an-hour.
But instead, I lopped it in half and pulled excess dough off the ends to patch up the cut sides.
In their much more manageable size (and with my husband’s help) I was able to slip them into a jumbo-sized ziplock bag and store them in my freezer.
Now, you’re not going to beLIEVE this, but when the time finally came to bake these puppies… my excellent memory failed me and I did not photograph the final stages. So you’ll have to imagine the lovely rolls, doubled in size, sitting side by side, puffed up and golden, shiny from the olive oil, and crusted with a hefty sprinkling of garlic, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, and rosemary. And you’ll have to picture the first oozing slice, wherein you can see layers of cheese, sauce, crust, pepperoni, and love. I tell you it was fabulous.
A few more tips:
If you choose to go the freezing route, you’ll want to take the rolls out of the freezer and move them to the refrigerator on the morning of the day you intend to serve them. Depending on when you get home, you’ll also need to make sure they get enough time at room temperature to thoroughly thaw AND rise. And yes, you can give them too much time. If you can take a lunch break or have a neighbor drop by, the ideal time to take them out for a full thaw-and-rise would be around 1:00 or 2:00 for a 7:00 pm dinner. Set them onto a baking pan sprinkled with a little cornmeal and let the yeast work its magic.
About 40 minutes before you want to eat it, pop them into a 375 oven and keep an eye on them after about 30 minutes. If they don’t look quite brown, give them a few minutes more.
Next post will involve baby shower cake! And trust me, you will be seeing the after pictures 🙂