This is not the description of the Calzone I grew up enjoying while living at home and the one I make now is a little different from the one my mother made and even different from the one served at many eateries today.
This raises the question. When does one tradition end and another begin?
The Calzone my mother made certainly followed the tradition that her mother embraced and I am positive that to this day she still follows the old unwritten recipe exactly.
Introducing change to long standing tradition was something not even thought about back then. The simple preparation of food was believed to be tried and true and it was most likely considered offensive to make any changes. I say this because I sense a certain disapproval when informing my mother that I‘ve made changes to any of her traditional recipes.
She still makes a delicious Calzone, very simple with the choice of two fillings. One filling is a combination of caramelized onions, anchovies and olives and the other consists of seasoned ground meat, sautéed onions and cheese. Her Calzone were always made family style in large round shaped pans to accommodate a crowd. It's interesting to note that even now only having to cook for herself she still makes her round family style Calzone but in a much smaller size of course. Now, that's sticking to tradition!
The pans in which she used to make Calzone for us made the ocean voyage with her when she immigrated to Canada, I’m sure there was a certain comfort in using those familiar pans when all else was so unfamiliar.
I feel so fortunate to have inherited a large round pan that belonged to my grandmother, passed down to my mother and now finding a place in my home. We have estimated it to be close to the hundred year mark.
This pan carries a wealth of heritage as it was originally a gift from my grandfather to my grandmother who had it made especially for her. She eventually brought it to Canada upon moving here but years later decided to return to the homeland "unfortunately" forgetting to take it back with her. It turned out to be "fortunately" for us as we have enjoyed it ever since. I consider it a precious heirloom, more valuable than the finest jewelry and I have a feeling its travels are not over yet.
Although keeping with the tradition of making a family size calzone, on occasion I make the more recent traditional half-moon shape. It seems that my children began a tradition of their own when they requested more unconventional fillings than the usual. I have decided not to share this new recipe with my mother as I’m sure it will not sit well with her.
As much as tradition must be valued I believe that one should not be restricted by it. Even the most subtle change in a traditional recipe can be the starting point for a completely new and even more delicious tradition.
The ingredients listed makes two 10 to 12 inch round Calzones or four half moon. Start out by making a batch of pizza dough and cut it into 6 equal portions and allow to rise in separate plastic baggies. If not inclined to make your own dough purchase some ready made from the supermarket. (I promise not to get upset if you choose to go this route.)
Possibilities for fillings are endless ranging from personal favourites to leftovers from the previous night’s dinner. Lots of cheese is good and save the tomato sauce for your next pizza.
4 pieces pizza dough (save the remaining 2 pieces for pizza or foccacia)
Preparation of Meat
total of 1 pound ground pork and veal mixed together well
4 to 5 medium cooking onions
¼ cup grated cheese (parmiggiano, crotonese, etc.)
¼ cup finely grated dry bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
cooked ground meat and onions
8 ounces mushrooms (sautéed)
4 slices Prosciutto Cotto (Italian cooked ham)
½ cup kalamata olives cut in half
1 small thinly sliced green pepper
1 beaten egg for brushing on top of Calzone
- Peel and slice onions very thinly, add 2 to 3 tablespoons corn oil in large skillet and cook onions until just beginning to soften and brown, set aside.
- In a medium bowl beat eggs, add meat, cheese, bread crumbs, salt and pepper and blend well.
- Add meat mixture to the onions in skillet and mix together, cook until the meat has browned.
- Place mixture in a colander and set on top of a bowl to drain any excess fat from the meat.
- Roll out a piece of dough and place in pan, layer all filling ingredients on top of the dough.
- Roll second piece of dough and cover the fillings, crimp or seal the edges.
- Brush with beaten egg and make several cuts on top allowing steam to escape.
- Bake in preheated 400 degree F. oven until golden brown.
Notes, Tips and Suggestions
- Dough can be made the day before making Calzone, refrigerate until ready to use.
- Don't mistake Prosciutto Cotto with the regular cooked ham variety. The difference in price will be the first clue to the right purchase. The texture and taste speak for themselves.
- Use any kind of ground meat preferred. A mix of at least 2 kinds works well.
- Omission of the egg wash on top of calzone will give you a drier crisper crust.
- A sprinkle of sesame seeds on top before baking makes a great addition.
- Bake the calzone on a regular pizza pan, no specialty pan required.
Doing Double Duty
I originally purchased this cutter/crimper tool from a mail order catalogue a few years after I got married. It has served me very well over many years.
Sealing the edges of Calzone or Panzerotti can leave excessive amounts of dough around the edges and fillings usually find a way of getting through any improperly sealed dough. (We're not looking for a Stromboli episode here.) This wonderful tool cuts off the excess dough and neatly crimps it closed.
In more recent years I have purchased a few more of these invaluable tools from different kitchen specialty stores. Each time I come across one I think of someone who would appreciate having it as much as myself and excitedly buy it for them.