Note: This is one of approximately three times my husband, B., has cooked in the entire history of our relationship, and not only did he volunteer to do it (and write a post about it), the result was embarrassingly better than whatever I would’ve made with the same ingredients. Not only is the gig up on his “I can’t cook” excuse, the status of his being cooked for seven days a week is officially in jeopardy.
When we first met, I told K. I liked to cook, which, given the state of my apartment kitchen at the time, meant I liked to collect mold specimens on Thai take-out boxes in my refrigerator and bowls of inch-deep sediment of indeterminable origin, which were—in the words of “Spinal Tap”—“a mystery best left unsolved.” Still, she not only married me but cooks all these great meals I get to eat, despite my scant contributions: Picture Homer Simpson: (1) seeing something (usually a non sequitur), (2) pointing at it, (3) saying “that looks good.” (I won’t go into (4) my surprise when I’m eating the meal a week later and ask, “Where did you get this idea?” and she replies, “From you.”) So, when I saw two orphaned pizza dough balls in our freezer, the clear choice for a smart man is to ask when we were going to have pizza.
I am not a smart man.
I mentioned that at one of my first jobs I made pizza and, eventually, calzones.
Below is my attempt to participate in and contribute to—and hopefully not completely ruin—my favorite blog.
I like to have the sauce prepared and my mise-en-place completely set up before I start, or I’m destined to forget some important step—turning on the oven, stuffing the dough with ingredients, and so on.
You’ll need: Sauce, dough, garlic butter, cheese, and the meat.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees with a pizza stone on the middle rack, or empty at 475 if you’ll be cooking the calzones on a cornmeal-sprinkled cookie sheet. While that’s warming up, collect the following ingredients:
• 1 can tomato paste: 69 cents
• 3/4 cup warm water: $0
• 3 tablespoons Parmesan, finely grated (use a Microplane if you have one): 25 cents
• 3 cloves garlic, minced or pushed through a garlic press: 9 cents
• 2 tablespoons honey: 18 cents
• 1 tsp anchovy paste: 5 cents
• 1/4 tsp onion powder: 2 cents
• 1/4 tsp each dried oregano, marjoram, basil, ground black pepper: 7 cents total
• 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes: 2 cents
• Salt: 1 cent
TOTAL: $1.38 (used about half of it)/2 = 69 cents
Mix all and salt to taste. It’s best made at least a few hours beforehand, so the flavors can meld.
• 2 pizza dough balls: 17 cents each
TOTAL: 34 cents
If frozen, these should have been set in the fridge the day before and set out on the counter to warm up a couple of hours before cooking. On a floured surface, stretch or roll the dough into rounds about 1/4 inch thick.
• 1 T butter: 6 cents
• 1 large garlic clove, minced or crushed: 3 cents
TOTAL: 9 cents
This will go on the outside of the calzones, but there’s no harm in getting it done early. I just took a tablespoon of butter and a minced clove of garlic and threw it in the microwave until it was melted (20 seconds should do) enough to brush on the tops when the time came.
• About 4 oz. mozzarella, grated: $1
• 2 strips bacon: 17 cents
• 1/4 lb. ground pork sausage: 75 cents
• 3 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced: $1
• 2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped (garden): $0
• 1 large garlic clove, minced: 3 cents
GRAND TOTAL: $1.95 + $1 +.09 + .34 + .69 = $4.07/2 = $2.03 each
In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, I cooked the bacon and set it aside. I added the sausage to the bacon fat and cooked until browned, removing it with a skimmer to leave the fat in the pan, and set the sausage aside with the bacon. I then sautéed the mushrooms and rosemary in the bacon and sausage fat until the mushrooms were browned. I added the minced garlic during the last 30 seconds, and then added the mushroom mixture to the bacon and sausage.
Once the oven was heated and ready to go, I reduced the oven temp to 475 and sauced each flat of dough, leaving it 1/4 inch short of the edges. I went with a medium slathering. Then, I placed the meat and cheese in the center and folded the dough over on itself. At this point, you can finger-fold the edges or use a fork. (If you’ve made empanadas before, you have a favorite technique.) Using a brush, paint a coat of garlic butter on the top.
Using a pizza peel dusted with cornmeal and flour, place the calzones on the pizza stone (or on a cookie sheet) and bake for about 20 minutes. Once the tops are starting to get a little color, remove and enjoy.