Monday, September 20, 2010

Sausage and Artichoke Calzones

Calzones are so much easier to make than I expected them to be.  And these turned out beautifully.  My only regret is that I forgot to use the cool calzone maker that my husband got me for my birthday.  Drat!  But I will next time.  I'm sure they would have turned out even prettier if I had, but oh well.  I'm sure that I will be making these again soon.  Bring them on a picnic since they are pretty clean and can be eaten with your hands!

Sausage and Artichoke Calzones
from Pizza and Other Savory Pies
Makes 2 calzones

1/2 lb sweet or hot Italian sausage, casing removed (I used chicken sausage)
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
Flour, for dusting
1 ball Thin Crust Pizza Dough, at room temperature (recipe follows)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 jar (6.5  oz) marinated artichoke hearts, drained and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 oz Parmesan, finely grated, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
2 oz Italian fontina or smoked mozzarella cheese, shredded (I used regular mozzarella)
6-8 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
1/2 cup pizza sauce

Place a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 450.  Let the pizza stone heat for 45-60 minutes.
In a frying pan over medium-low heat, saute the sausage, breaking it up into small pieces with a spoon, until no trace of pink remains, 5-7 minutes.  Drain on paper towels and set aside.  In a bowl, lightly beat together the egg and milk.
On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough in half and shape each half into a ball.  Place a sheet of parchment paper on the work surface and set the first ball of dough in the center.  Cover the second dough ball with a clean kitchen towel and set aside.  Dust the top of the dough with flour and, using a rolling pin, roll out to a 7-inch round of even thickness.  Repeat with the second ball of dough.  Cover both rounds with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 5 minutes.
Season the first dough round lightly with salt and pepper.  Spoon 1/2 of the artichokes over one half of the dough round, leaving a 3/4-inch border uncovered.  Top the artichokes with 1/2 each of the cooked sausage, Parmesan, fontina and basil.  Make sure the filling isn't mounded too high in the center; it should evenly half of the dough round.  Gently fold the uncovered half over the covered half to enclose the filling.  Firmly pinch and crimp the edges to seal.  Repeat with the second dough round.  Brush the tops of the calzones with the egg mixture and sprinkle each with 1/2 tablespoon of the remaining Parmesan.  Cut a small steam vent in the top of each calzone.  Using a pizza peel or rimless baking sheet, carefully slide the calzone-topped parchment paper sheets onto the hot pizza stone.  Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.
Using the pizza peel or rimless baking sheet, remove the calzones from the oven and transfer to a cutting board.  Let stand for 15-20 minutes, then cut into halves and serve warm.  If desired, serve the tomato sauce on the side.

Thin-Crust Pizza Dough
from Pizza and Other Savory Pies
Makes 2 balls of dough

3 1/3 cups flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour (I've made it with just regular flour too, and it works fine)
1 package (2 1/2 teaspoons) quick-rise yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/4 cups warm water (110 F), plus more as needed
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra as needed

In a food processor, combine the flours, yeast, sugar and salt.  Pulse to mix the ingredients.  With the motor running, add the water and olive oil in a steady stream, and then pulse until the dough comes together in a rough mass, about 12 seconds.  If the dough doesn't  form into a ball, sprinkle with 1-2 teaspoons of water and pulse again until a rough mass forms.  Let the dough rest for 5-10 minutes  Process again for 25-30 seconds, steadying the top of the food processor with one hand.  The dough should be tacky to the touch but not sticky.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and form it into a smooth ball.  Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, turn to coat with oil, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk and spongy, about 1 1/2 hours.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, punch it down, and shape into a smooth cylinder.  Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces.  Shape each piece into a smooth ball, dusting with flour only if the dough becomes sticky.  Cover both balls of dough with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes before proceeding with your chosen pizza recipe.  If you are using only one ball of dough, place the second ball in a gallon-size zipper-lock bag and freeze for up to 2 months.  (When ready to use, thaw the frozen dough for 3-4 hours at room temperature.

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