Ciao Italia Blog Exclusive: Super Bowl Calzones

January 30, 2009

A sub by any other name is still just a sub when it comes to Super Bowl Sunday.

Even though I know absolutely nothing about football, I get into the spirit of this gladiator game by making my family and neighborhood football fans their favorite game food: calzones!

Calzones, which look like turnovers, are a lot easier to eat than a sub, no messy dressing dribbling all over your hands, and they are healthier too. I start with the filling the day before, a ground pork and fennel mixture. This is spooned into a slightly sweet yeast dough that is so easy to make that I know it will become one of your favorites.

So here’s to the Superbowl, may the best team win. Now, can someone tell me who’s playing?

Super Super Bowl Sunday Calzones

Makes 12 Calzones

2 pounds ground pork butt
1 large onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 ribs celery, minced
1 carrot, minced
1 sweet yellow or red pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Fine sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste

1 package actiive dty yeast
1/4 cup warm (110º to 115ºF) water
1/2 cup warm (110º to 115ºF) 1% low-fat milk
3 large eggs, at room temperature
4 1/2 to 5 cups King Arthur Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 egg slightly beaten
Sesame seeds for sprinkling
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

In a medium bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the water and mix with a spoon until the yeast dissolves. Let the mixture proof for about 5 minutes. Small clusters of chalky-looking bubbles should appear on the surface. Stir in the milk. With a fork, beat in the eggs one at a time. Set the mixture aside.

To make the dough in a bowl, mix together 4 1/2 cups of the flour, the sugar, and salt. Break up the butter over the dry ingredients and work it in with your hands until a crumbly mixture is obtained. Add the yeast mixture and mix with your hands until a ball of dough is formed. Add additional flour if necessary to obtain a dough that is soft but not too sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead it for 3 to 4 minutes, until a smooth. Let the dough rest on the work surface for 10 minutes, covered with a towel or inverted bowl. Knead the dough again for 5 minutes, until smooth and no longer sticky.

Lightly spray a large bowl with cooking oil spray or lightly coat with butter. Gather up the dough, place it in the bowl, and turn to coat. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled in size, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Pork Filling
In a sauté pan, brown the pork in its own fat, along with the onion and garlic. Pour off the fat.

Add the celery, carrot, sweet pepper, and fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft; the mixture is fairly dry. Add the wine and raise the heat to high; continue cooking until most of the wine has evaporarted. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the tomato sauce. Season with oregano, salt and pepper. Set the mixture aside to cool while you roll out the dough.
Punch down the dough, then turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for 3 to 4 minutes, until smooth and no longer sticky. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Work with one piece at a time, keeping the remaining dough covered with a towel.

Roll each piece out on the floured surface into a 6- to 7- inch round. Spread about 1/3 cup of the filling over one half of each round. Fold the dough over the filling to form a turnover or half-moon shape, and crimp and seal the edges with a fork dipped in flour.

Place the calzones at least 1 inch apart on baking sheets that have been sprayed with olive oil spray. Brush the tops of the calzones with the beaten egg and sprinkle sesame seeds and coarse salt over the tops. With scissors, cut a small X in the center of each calzone. Allow the calzones to rise for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Bake the calzones for 25 to 30 minutes, until they are golden brown on the top and bottom. Remove them from the baking sheets with a wide spatula and let them cool slightly on cooling racks. these are best eaten warm.

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