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Bart's "Take Me To Italy" Calzone

WITH (PRE-COOKED) ITALIAN SAUSAGE & (PRE-COOKED) TURKEY PEPPERONI, SLICED BELL PEPPERS, PINEAPPLE SLICES & MOZZARELLA CHEESE

Calzone Recipe From Bart Smith's Cookbook Who's Hungry? © 2024 by Bart Smith

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    Calzone by Bart Smith
    Calzone by Bart Smith
    Calzone by Bart Smith

    RECIPE INTRODUCTION

    First off, what is a calzone? A calzone is an Italian oven-baked turnover of sorts that features a circular piece of pizza or yeasted bread dough that's then folded in half over a filling of ingredients that includes any variety of your favorite items which you might normally add to a pizza.

    For me, I like to stuff my calzones with mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, Italian seasonings, (pre-cooked) turkey pepperoni, (pre-cooked) Italian sausage, sliced bell peppers, real sliced pineapple (no canned pineapple, please), and then I'll add marinara sauce lightly spread throughout/inside the calzone before I fold it over, seal the dough shut using a twist or crimping technique, then place it in the oven to bake for 20 minutes.

    Calzones originated in Naples, Italy in the 18th century and have now been perfected in my kitchen. Actually, when I made my first calzone at home, I was in heaven and truly thought, no, I'm not at some fancy Italian restaurant. It's even better, my calzone literally made me feel like I was transported to Italy. It's that good! C'mon, let's get into it ...

    Bart Smith's Italian Calzone

    EQUIPMENT NEEDED

    Equipment To Make Calzones

    TWO (2) FRYING PANS → If you plan on sautéing any meat, such as turkey pepperoni or Italian sausage, like I like to do, then you'll need two (2) separate frying pans.

    ❑ CUTTING KNIFE → To slice up your veggies, such as bell peppers, pineapple, etc.

    SPATULA → To toss your meat(s) around in the frying pan(s) while you sauté such ingredients. (OPTIONAL) 

    ❑ ALUMINUM FOIL → I like to place my uncooked calzone dough onto aluminum foil so I can work with it. Then, I'll either place my calzone on that tin foil onto a cookie sheet or I'll slide my calzone into a lasagna pan for baking.

    ❑ COOKIE SHEET or LASAGNA PAN → You can bake your calzone in a lasagna pan or on a cookie sheet. If you use a cookie sheet, use the aluminum foil between the two.

    ❑ PARCHMENT PAPER → Optional, but if you have parchment paper on hand and you plan on using a cookie sheet to bake your calzone on, why not place your calzone on a sheet of parchment paper on the cookie sheet? It makes sliding your calzone off the cookie sheet when it's done real nice.

    INGREDIENTS

    Here are the ingredients needed to make a calzone and what I put inside my calzones. Feel free to customize your calzone with any list of ingredients you'd like. Especially if it might meet your personal dietary restrictions.

    Ingredients To Make Calzones

    "READY MADE" PIZZA DOUGH (FOR USE IN MAKING CALZONES) → I'm not one to make pizza dough by hand or wait hours for it to thaw or whatever. I'm in a hurry → to EAT! So, I like to buy my pizza dough from any store that sells it fresh (from the deli) and that requires simple refrigeration (when not in use) and is ready to go when I want my calzone! Yeah! So, here are some brands to look for to give you an idea of what I like to use to make my calzones at home:

     Von's — Signature Cafe Pizza Dough Traditional 

     Smith's — Home Chef Pizza Dough

     Walmart — Pizza Buddy Pizza Dough, 16 oz, Bag (Fresh)

     Walmart — DeLallo Pizza Dough Kit, Italian Pizzeria-Style Crust Mix

     Winco — Pizza Dough (available at select stores with a pizza deli)

    ❑ MOZZARELLA CHEESE → You'll need 2-3 cups of mozzarella cheese inside your calzone. Spread these cups out per layer and by hand if you like. I do.

    Again, feel free to make your calzone all veggie or subtract any ingredient(s) from my list below. It's up to you. Some folks like to add ham, broccoli, salami, ricotta, onions, mushrooms, olives, bacon, etc. to their calzones. Hey, you go for it. I personally like to stuff my calzones with what I top my pizzas with. That being said, here's what goes inside my calzones: 

    SLICED BELL PEPPERS → All colors too. About 4-5 slices per color.

    ❑ PINEAPPLE → To slice up your veggies, such as bell peppers, pineapple, etc.

    TURKEY PEPPERONI → To toss your meat(s) around in the frying pan(s) while you sauté such ingredients. (OPTIONAL) 

    (HOT) ITALIAN SAUSAGE → I like to place my uncooked calzone dough onto aluminum foil so I can work with it. Then, I'll either place my calzone on that tin foil onto a cookie sheet or I'll slide my calzone into a lasagna pan for baking.

    GARLIC POWDER → I'll add a teaspoon to 4 tablespoons of melted butter. 

    4 TABLESPOONS OF BUTTER → After you melt the butter in a small bowl, mix in your garlic powder, then spread it on top of the sealed pizza dough. 

    PREP DIRECTIONS

    (15 MINUTES)

    GETTING STARTED

    SLICE, SAUTÉ & PREPARE YOUR INGREDIENTS

    ★ 1. Preheat oven to 400°.

    ★ 2. Slice (one or two) 2" stacks of pepperonis into 1/4 slivers then sauté on LOW heat in its own frying pan. Stir often until crispy. I don't sauté whole pepperoni slices, but slivers. Easier and faster to do so and easier to eat/digest smaller pieces. When done, drain grease from the pan into sink and then pat down cooked pepperonis on a paper towel on a plate until no more grease can be seen.

    ★ 3. Break up and sauté your Italian sausage on MEDIUM heat in its own frying pan with 4 TBSP of grapeseed (or olive) oil and 1 TBSP of Italian seasonings. Stir often until golden brown. When done, drain grease from the pan into sink and then pat down cooked sausage on a paper towel on a plate until no more grease can be seen.

    ★ 4. Slice bell peppers into 4-5 slices (per color) and set aside.

    ★ 5. Slice pineapple into 8-12 thin 1" slices and set aside.

    ★ 6. Unpack pizza dough and flatten on parchment paper or tin foil (with hands or a rolling pin) in one large circle about 12-14" in diameter. Optionally, sprinkle some flour on the parchment paper or tin foil to prevent from sticking. 

    Bart Smith's 'Take Me To Italy' Calzone

    ADD INGREDIENTS PER LAYER

    MAKE 2-3 LAYERS ON 1/2 OF CALZONE

    ★ 1. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on first layer on top of calzone dough and on top of any other layer of ingredients you add to your calzone. TIP: You can kinda never have enough cheese inside your calzone.

    ★ 2. Add 2-3 TBSP of marinara or other red sauce to each layer of your calzone and on top of the cheese layer. Do not drench each later with sauce. Spread each spoonful thinly across each layer.

    ★ 3. Add 6-8 different colored bell peppers per layer to your calzone. Save some for each layer you add.

    ★ 4. Add 4-6 slices of pineapple per layer of your calzone. Save some for each layer you add.

    ★ 5. Add a handful of pre-cooked pepperoni per layer of your calzone. Save some for each layer.

    ★ 6. Add a handful of pre-cooked Italian sausage per layer of your calzone. Save some for each layer.

    REPEAT STEPS #1-6 until you have no more ingredients left to add or you've got 2-3 layers (or more) of ingredients piled up on 1/2 of the flatted calzone dough.

    ★ 7. Fold empty calzone side over piled up ingredients and roll the edges shut either by rolling them up or crimping them like you would a pie's edge.

    ★ 8. Using a tablespoon or basting brush, spread melted butter (mixed in with garlic powder) on top of calzone dough. Sprinkle Italian seasonings to the top as well.

    ★ 9. Using a knife or fork, poke 5-6 holes into the top of the calzone to allow it to allow any steam to escape so the calzone doesn't puff up in the oven.

    BAKING DIRECTIONS

    (20 MINUTES @ 400°)

    BAKING DIRECTIONS

    BAKE = 20 MINUTES

    ★ 1. Place calzone on cookie sheet or inside some kind of lasagna type dish. I place my calzone to bake on the lower rack (if there are two oven racks). No need to cover your calzone. It's okay to bake in the open.

    ★ 2. Using a timer, set timer for 20 minutes to bake at 400°. While your calzone bakes, CLEAN UP and prepare to feast in 20 minutes.

    ★ 3. With 5-10 minutes left to bake, pour (1-2 cups per person) of marinara or other red sauce into a pot to warm up for dipping your calzone in. I like to provide red sauce for dipping by pouring warmed up sauce into small individual serving bowls per person dining with me. You only need about 1-2 cups of sauce per person.

    COOLING & SERVING

    COOL = 5 MINUTES

    ★ 1. When the timer goes off, take calzone out of the oven. The calzone dough should be golden brown and ready to eat, BUT it must cool for a few minutes.

    ★ 2. Allow baked calzone to cool for 5 minutes right out of the oven.

    ★ 3. Cut slices of your calzone and serve on plates per person dining with you. Provide a fork, knife and a tablespoon per person dining and a lot of paper napkins. (HAHA)

    ★ 4. Provide small individual dipping bowls of red sauce per person dining with you. They can spread sauce over their calzone slice. Yummm!!! 

    PHOTO INSTRUCTIONS

    Below, you'll find a number of photos I took to help you learn how to make my calzone really fast!

    Ingredients To Make Bart Smith's World Famous Italian Calzone

    STEP #1
    GETTING STARTED

    Get all the ingredients out so you can see that you have everything on hand to get started! 

    Preheat the oven to 400°.

    Get started with your prep work!

    STEP #2
    MEAT PREP/COOK

    Optionally, if you choose to include sausage and/or pepperoni in your calzone like I do, then here are the steps I take. IF NOT, you can SKIP this section. Okay, you're still here! Now, here's how I prepare to sauté the pepperoni and Italian sausage so you can do other calzone prep work while your meats cook on medium to low heat.

    ★ PEPPERONI: Use 10-15 pieces of pepperoni for your calzone. Stack 'em tall and slice in quarters so you have slivers of pepperoni. Place pepperoni slivers in a medium size frying pan (on low heat for 5-10 minutes) with 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil or olive oil. No Italian seasonings necessary. 

    STACK 'EM

    CUT IN 1/4 SLICES

    CREATE A NICE PILE

    PLACE IN FRYING PAN

    ★ SAUSAGE: Use 1-2 LINKS per calzone. How much Italian sausage do you want in your calzone and how many pieces are you going to snack on once cooked? (HAHA) Unless you buy ground Italian sausage which requires no prep work -- just toss it in the frying pan, peel the skin off 1-2 links and slice 'em open so they cook faster in the pan.

    Place links in a large frying pan (on medium heat for 10-12 minutes) with 4-5 tablespoons of grapeseed oil or olive oil and sprinkle Italian seasonings in the pan and flip the sausage over and over until evenly cooked. I like to break up the sausage in little chunks (perfect inclusion in your calzone) as the links cook.

    SLICE SKIN OPEN

    PEEL SKIN OFF

    SLICE DOWN MIDDLE

    PLACE IN FRYING PAN

    ★ WATCH BOTH PANS frequently to make sure nothing burns. Flip and toss both sausage and pepperoni often. Turn to low heat if you think they're cooking too fast.

    STEP #3
    VEGGIES & PINEAPPLE

    While the sausage and pepperoni cook on medium to low heat, and you're watching them closely and tossing them often so not to let them burn, start slicing up your veggies. It does help to have someone help you with all these tasks. Sure, you can do this yourself, but it's always nice to enlist the help of the person dining with you if you have company at the table.

    ★ BELL PEPPERS: Per calzone, wash then slice four (4-6) small slices of peppers per color. So, red, green, yellow and/or orange. Whatever you have. You don't need that many. Then, set aside.

    ★ PINEAPPLE: Per calzone, cut 10-12 "thin" slices of pineapple that are about 1" in length each. You'll spread these around inside your calzone per layer then sprinkle Italian seasonings on each pineapple slice before you add a new layer on top or close up your calzone and bake away! Once sliced up, set aside.

    CUT THE TOP OFF

    CUT OFF 1" WORTH

    SLICE OUT THE CORE

    CUT AGAIN LIKE THIS

    CUT THE SKIN OFF

    CUT INTO PIECES

    CUT INTO THIN SLICES

    SET ASIDE

    STEP #4
    CALZONE DOUGH

    ★ REMOVE THE "PIZZA (CALZONE) DOUGH" from the bag and flatten it out on a piece of parchment paper or tin foil. For 2-3 people, this should be plenty of calzone to dine on. That's been my experience. Need more? Make another calzone! ;-) The amount of ingredients is the real filler, along with any beverages you might enjoy, so keep that in mind. These calzones are quite filling!

    STEP #1

    PLACE DOUGH ON TIN FOILOR PACHMENT PAPER

    Calzone (Pizza) Dough

    STEP #2

    SPREAD DOUGH OUT IN A CIRCLE WITH 12"-14" DIAMETER

    Spread Calzone (Pizza) Dough Out

     TIP #1: You don't want the dough to be spread too thin. Keep it thick enough to stretch, but not too thin it will rip or tear.

     TIP #2: Parchment paper works well too in place of tin foil.

     TIP #3: IF you use tin foil, spray some non-stick coating between the tin foil and the dough to prevent the dough from sticking to the tinfoil as it bakes.

     TIP #4: Optionally, after the calzone is built, you can transport it into a lasagna type pan for baking that way. Again, spray just a little non-stick spray in the pan for all the right reasons. GLASS (pan) is best, metal next.


    STEP #5
     DRAIN THE GREASE

    Before I place the cooked meat inside the calzone, I need to drain the grease from each frying pan used to sauté my meats. Here's how that's done:

     PEPPERONI: Drain the bulk of the grease by tilting the pepperoni pan at a 45-90° angle against the inside edge of your sink to drain the bulk of the grease. Let the grease slide out while you keep the pepperoni in the pan pressed up against the inside sink wall. Then, place the "hot" pepperoni (temperature-wise) on a plate with a paper towel and pat down the pepperoni further removing any grease. I like my calzone devoid of any grease if you can tell.

    DRAIN THE GREASE FROM YOUR
    PAN WHEN IT'S DONE COOKING

    HOLD THE PAN AT 45-90°
    AGAINST THE SINK WALL

    CAREFULLY DRAIN ANY OIL THAT
    WANTS TO LEAK OUT OF THE PAN

    PLACE PEPPERONI ON A
    PAPER TOWEL ON A PLATE

    PAT DOWN PAPER TOWEL TO
    FURTHER SOAK UP GREASE

    LOOK AT THE GREASE THAT
    WON'T BE ON YOUR CALZONE

    ★ SAUSAGE: Repeat the same steps to drain the grease from the sausage pan after it's done cooking. Drain the bulk of the grease by tilting the sausage pan at a 45-90° angle against the inside edge of your sink to drain the bulk of the grease. Then, place the "hot" sausage (temperature-wise) on a plate with a paper towel and pat down the sausage further removing any grease.

    DRAIN THE GREASE FROM YOUR PAN WHEN IT'S DONE COOKING

    HOLD THE PAN AT 45-90°
    AGAINST THE SINK WALL

    CAREFULLY DRAIN ANY OIL THAT
    WANTS TO LEAK OUT OF THE PAN

    PLACE SAUSAGE ON A
    PAPER TOWEL ON A PLATE

    PAT DOWN PAPER TOWEL TO
    FURTHER SOAK UP GREASE

    LOOK AT THE GREASE THAT WON'T BE ON YOUR CALZONE

    ★ FEEL FREE TO SAMPLE any pepperoni or sausage. You deserve a quick appetizer of sorts!

    STEP #6
    ADD TOPPINGS

    Start topping your calzone PER LAYER with your desired ingredients and in this order:

    STEP #1

    ADD MOZZARELLA CHEESE

    Add Mozzarella Cheese To Your Calzone

    STEP #2

    ADD RED PASTA SAUCE

    Add Red Sauce To Your Calzone

    STEP #3

    ADD SLICED BELL PEPPERS

    Add Bell Peppers To Your Calzone

    STEP #4

    ADD ITALIAN SAUSAGE PIECES

    Add Italian Sausage To Your Calzone

    STEP #5

    ADD PEPPERONI SLICES

    Add Pepperoni To Your Calzone

    STEP #6

    ADD SLICED PINEAPPLE*

    Add Pineapple To Your Calzone

    SPRINKLE ITALIAN SEASONINGS ON TOP OF EACH PINEAPPLE SLICE before adding more ingredients on top of your pineapple.

    SPRINKLE MORE MOZZARELLA CHEESE between and on top of each layer of ingredients to separate them and to make your calzone real cheesy. 

    ★ REPEAT STEPS #1-#6 until you're out of ingredients or your pile of ingredients looks a mile high! Perfect! Time to wrap up your calzone and then bake it for 20 minutes at 400°.

    STEP #7
    WRAP UP YOUR CALZONE

    Here's how I wrap up my calzone for baking in the oven:

    STEP #1

    GRAB & STRETCH THE EMPTY SIDE UP & OVER THE INGREDIENT SIDE

    Grab Calzone Dough & Drag It Over Ingredients

    STEP #2

    TUCK & ROLL LOOSE DOUGH SO IT HUGS YOUR CALZONE TIGHT

    Tuck Calzone Dough Close To Edge

    STEP #3

    SPREAD MELTED GARLIC BUTTER ON TOP OF YOUR CALZONE

    Spread Melted Butter With Garlic Powder On Your Calzone

    STEP #8
    BAKE YOUR CALZONE

    Time to slide that calzone in the oven!

    Now, slide your calzone in the oven (onto the bottom rack) for 20 minutes at 400°. Use a timer to time your calzone baking time so you can pull it out when the buzzer sounds! During that time, clean up and prepare to dine!

    ★ 5-10 MINUTES before your calzone is done bakingwarm up some red marinara sauce for dipping your calzone in. (OPTIONAL, OF COURSE)

    Once baked, pull the calzone out of the oven and feast your eyes on this tasty dish of Italian deliciousness! 

    Allow your calzone to cool for 5 minutes while you prepare to feast! 

    READY-TO-BAKE CALZONE GOING IN!

    Bart Smith's 'Take Me To Italy' Calzone

    BAKED CALZONE & LOOKING YUMMY!

    Bart Smith's 'Take Me To Italy' Calzone

    STEP #9
    LET'S EAT!!!!!

    Time to chow down on this amazing calzone you just made!

    After you have served slices of your calzone to yourself and table guests, TURN THE OVEN OFF and place the rest of your calzone back in the oven to stay warm for your next slice. When you're ready for another slice, even though the oven is OFF, the oven kept your remaining calzone warm and waiting for your next serving!

    STEP #1

    PREPARE INDIVIDUAL BOWLS OF RED SAUCE FOR DIPPING

    Prepare Bowls With Marinara Sauce For Calzone Dipping

    STEP #4

    SLICE YOUR CALZONE INTO PIECES & SERVE EVERYONE

    Slice Your Calzone For Serving

    STEP #3

    ADD A SPOON OF RED PASTA SAUCE WITH EVERY BITE

    Serve Up Your Calzone & Red Sauce
    Serve Up Your Calzone & Red Dipping Sauce

    BART SMITH'S

    "Take Me To Italy"

    CALZONE

    Seriously, after you dine on my calzone, you'll really think you've been transported to Italy! Enjoy!

    Bart Smith's 'Take Me To Italy' Calzone

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