Calzone Stuffed with Pepperoni and Three Cheeses

Recipe by Nancy Johnson; Wine Commentary by Gary Twining.

You can make your own pizza dough or buy ready-made pizza or bread dough. I have even had success using two tubes of refrigerated Pillsbury pizza dough, although cut back on the ingredients to avoid over-stuffing. You can also divide the dough into smallerrounds and make individual calzones. Cut back on cooking time to about 10 to 12 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1-3/4 cups whole milk ricotta cheese

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 large egg yolk

1 TBS minced fresh basil

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 cup homemade or purchased pizza sauce (recipe follows)

4 ounces pepperoni (more or less, to taste)

2 pounds pizza dough (recipe follows)

1 large egg

1 TBS water

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small skillet, cook the garlic in hot oil over medium heat until softened, about 1 minute. Set aside and cool.

In a medium bowl, mix garlic, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, egg yolk, basil, salt and pepper.

Place dough on lightly floured cutting board or counter. Divide into 2 equal portions. Roll each into 12-inch round. Transfer to prepared baking sheets.

In a small bowl, beat egg with water.

Spread tomato sauce over bottom half of one dough round, leaving a 1-inch border on the edge. Gently spread 1-1/2 cups of the cheese mixture over sauce. Layer pepperoni over cheese. Brush a bit of egg wash over border. Fold top half of dough over filling to create a crescent-shaped turnover. Press and crimp edges to seal. Score top of calzone with a sharp knife, making about 3 slits for steam to escape. Repeat with second dough half. Brush remaining egg wash over both calzones. Bake 10 minutes; rotate baking sheets for even browning. Bake 10 minutes more or until calzones are golden brown. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Slice to serve.

Homemade Pizza Sauce

I swear by certified San Marzano tomatoes for best flavor. A plum tomato grown in the rich soil at the base of Mount Vesuvius, they have deep red color, firm pulp, low acidity and sweet flavor. For briny umami, add a few canned anchovies to the pizza sauce mix.

1 large can San Marzano tomatoes, with juice

1 (6 oz) can tomato paste

1 TBS fresh oregano leaves or 1 tsp dried

1 TBS torn fresh basil leaves or 1 tsp dried

1 TBS extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sugar

1 clove garlic, or more to taste

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In the bowl of a food processor, puree tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, basil, olive oil, sugar and garlic. Transfer to medium saucepan and heat to boiling. Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Pizza Dough

4-3/4 cups flour, plus 1/4 cup flour if needed

2 envelopes instant or rapid rise yeast

1 TBS sugar

2 tsp salt

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1-3/4 cups warm water (110 degrees)

In the bowl of a food processor, fitted with a dough blade, pulse the flour, yeast, sugar and salt to combine. With the processor running, slowly pour in oil, then slowly add water. Process until a ball forms, about 40 seconds. Let rest 2 minutes, then process 30 seconds longer. If dough is sticky, add 1/4 cup flour a few tablespoons at a time until dough is smooth and does not stick to dough blade.

Turn out dough onto lightly floured cutting board or counter. With floured hands, form a smooth ball. Place in a large, oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap that has been coated with cooking spray. Let rise in a warm place about 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in size. Turn out onto lightly floured cutting board or counter. Roll dough into two 12-inch rounds.

Gary: In this Calzone recipe there is a lot of cheese that will dominate the pepperoni flavors.  The ricotta is rich enough to even consider serving a crisp, white wine with the meal that will stand up to the acidity in the red sauce and the salt and spices in the pepperoni. Look for a crisp Gavi, Orvieto, Soave or Frascati if you want to try a unique pairing. For reds look for wines with good acidity, such as Dolcetto, Barbera or Sangiovese/Chianti. With the richness of the cheese you might consider reds from the South that are darker-fruited and broader in style, such as Salice Salentino, Anglianico and Nero d’Avola.

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