Trivia: difference between a calzone and stromboli? Generally speaking, calzones are cheese-filled and stromboli are meat-filled. But that's really up to who makes them and what the place considers their rule, and I've had some delicious meat-filled calzones in my day. Also, calzones have the sauce on the side, and stromboli have the sauce on the inside, like an inside-out pizza. The biggest difference, at least in a NY pizzeria, is that stromboli are rolled instead of folded. Either way, you're talking about a pizza-esque sandwich concoction and you can't really go wrong! The easiest way to decide which one you want is to look at the available fillings and decide which matches your hunger the best!
Anyway, I was excited to try this recipe precisely because I never order calzones, despite the fact that I really do enjoy them! It was also a perfectly-timed recipe to help us use some of our freezer contents before we move. We almost always have Italian sausage in the freezer, and that would not go bad on a drive to, say, MAINE, but we also had pizza dough, and that would be a big, proofed, risen-dough mess!
Verdict: Not bad! The filling was very yummy and I kept eating it before I filled the calzones!
Make it again: Yes, and next time as the recipe describes.
Cost factor: $10-$15 ish? We used pantry ingredients, but to start from scratch it would be about $10 for the dough and sausage, and another $5 for the ricotta and other cheeses.
This recipe is probably in the genre of what the Food Network would call semi-homemade. The real recipe calls for using "whole frozen, unrisen dinner rolls," which is a nice shortcut to making your own dough. Since we made these only a few days before our cross-country move, though, I took the opportunity to use some freezer items and consequently didn't match the ingredients precisely. For example, I used the Publix pizza dough we'd had in our freezer. We let it proof for a few hours, but forgot to take it out of the bag, so we didn't get too much "rise" from it. Whoops.
Trouble was, that meant that it was incredibly difficult to roll. And I'm not sure if that's because it was pizza dough versus the dinner rolls, or because I forgot to take it out of the bag. In any event, here it is, cut into sections -- if you don't already know this, the more you work with dough, the harder it is to work with until it's effectively trash. So I took the "not-really-proofed" dough and cut it into sections with one cut per section. It was a fun geometry exercise to get the sections relatively equal. But the rolling? Well, not so good, boss.
We had Italian sausage in our fridge, and although we had the bricks of parmesan, that will keep quite well on our trip, but we also almost always have frozen bags of shredded cheese. So again, I used a bag of Kraft "Italian Five Cheese Blend" which has mozzarella, provolone, parmesan, romano, and asiago cheeses. That, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, some onions and the sausage all get mixed together and although the photo was pretty icky looking, the filling was delicious enough to eat with a spoon. Which I did. A lot. (Also, because we made ALL the sausage we had in the package, but didn't have a lot of dough to go with it, we had a lot of extra filling. We saved what we didn't use and then heated it and put it on sandwiches -- holy cheesy sausagey deliciousness, batman. I would make the filling again just to make sandwiches with it again. Really.)
|They sure look ugly, don't they? And I even threw one dough section out, it was so over-worked and un-rollable!|
In any event, you stuff your calzones, brush them with egg, and bake them about 10 minutes.
And you get these!
|OKay, okay, they still look ugly. I know.|
Despite appearances, it really turned out to be not a bad dinner at all. It was also insanely easy to put together, and the perfect kind of meal for those evenings when your time is either split (so you can make the sausage mix earlier in the day and roll the calzones later), or precious (you know, like when you're packing a house to move across the country and you're dreadfully far behind and staring down a deadline!).
The pizza dough was a little too thick -- which we suspected would happen after our proofing/rolling deal -- but they were tasty served with a simple jar of "emergency" sauce we opened and heated up. (We typically make our own sauce but always -- ALWAYS -- have jars of sauce on hand for pasta emergencies!) But they didn't suffer at all for the cheat on the cheese, and I might do the same thing again in the future, just because it was so easy.
This was a good pick, and we're definitely going to make it again -- with the correct ingredients and correct technique, next time!