Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Meatball Calzones

I've said it before, and I will say it again, the No-Knead Pizza Dough recipe from My Pizza by bread baking extraordinaire Jim Lahey is the best and easiest pizza dough recipe, and the only pizza dough I will make. It requires minimal effort, and has the best texture and flavor, the result of a long, slow rise.

It's obviously great for pizzas, but I've also used it for stromboli and calzones. These meatball calzones are my favorite to make. I usually have a stash of homemade turkey meatballs in my freezer, which are great for dinner emergencies.

This recipe is simple enough to make on a weeknight, because the dough will be prepared ahead of time. Either mix the dough (no kneading required, obviously) and let it rise for about 18 hours, then divide, shape and bake, or you can shape the dough into balls up to a few days ahead of time and refrigerate. Then assembly is a cinch.

I like to make a bed of provolone cheese on the bottom before topping with the meatballs and sauce. This creates a gooey, cheesy barrier and prevents the sauce from making the bottom of the dough soggy (this can be a somewhat wet and sticky dough, so always err on the side of excessive flour on your board if you are noticing it's difficult to work with).

Ready to bake!

And speaking of dough, did I mention how much I LOVE this pizza dough? The texture and flavor is out of this world! Crispy and chewy with a more mature flavor due to the long rise. I can't say enough about this pizza dough. Just trust me on this.

These meatballs calzones kick the butt of any spaghetti and meatballs, or even meatball sandwiches in my book. They are easy and straight-forward to make, and the texture really can't be beat! I've been making these calzones for years, without ever measuring the ingredients, and finally decided to write down my technique so y'all can share in the joy of these marvelous calzones.

I know the recipe looks simple, but that's why it's so good, and the icing on the proverbial cake is the exceptional(ly easy) pizza dough. Enjoy!

Meatball Calzones
Makes 4 calzones

1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 recipe No-Knead Pizza Dough, shaped into 4 balls
All purpose flour, for dusting
4 slices provolone cheese, halved
12 meatballs (golf ball-size, not jumbo), preferably homemade, sliced 1/4-inch thick (I used homemade turkey meatballs I had previously made and frozen)
2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.

In a small bowl (or right in the measuring cup), combine the crushed tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Take one ball of the dough and generously flour it, your hands, and the work surface. Them press it down and gently stretch it out. Supporting the disk with your knuckles toward the outer edge and lifting it about the work surface, keep stretching the dough by rotating it with your knuckles, gently pulling it wider and wider until the disk reaches 8 inches. Alternatively, stretch the dough on the work surface by massaging it into a roundish disk about 10 to 12 inches, but don't handle it more than necessary. This dough can be on the sticky side, so be generous with your flour as needed.

Place 2 provolone cheese slice halves overlapping on one half of the dough, leaving approximately a 1/2-inch border along the edge. Top with 3 sliced meatballs, 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce, and 1/2 tablespoon grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Fold over the naked half of the dough to enclose it like a book. Pinch and pleat the edges to seal. Use a large spatula to gently set the half-moon shaped calzone onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the 3 remaining balls of dough, and the remaining filling ingredients.

Brush olive oil over the top of each calzone, and cut a couple of small slits on top to vent. Bake for about 30 minutes, until bubbly and golden. You can also broil the calzones for a couple additional minutes after baking to get an extra golden crust. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 5 to 10 minutes before serving, as the filling will be very hot.


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