An Argument (And Recipe) for the Understuffed Calzone
Chef Daniel Kluger shares his recipe for a calzone packed with sausage, soppressata and room to breathe
On the spectrum of savory, baked Italian cuisine, calzones occupy a tenuous middle space somewhere between a pizza and a roll. The calzone typically contains the gooey marriage of sauce and cheese associated with the former, but the bulk and heaviness of the latter.
While delicious, that combination is also dense, and can result in a traditional calzone becoming, as chef Daniel Kluger of Loring Place in New York City puts it, “an overstuffed gut-bomb.” So Kluger, the author of Chasing Flavor: Techniques and Recipes to Cook Fearlessly, would often tear pieces off and dip them in tomato sauce instead of going after the turnover whole hog. But he also thought an alternative was possible.
Kluger and his longtime chef de cuisine Seth Seligman then began to workshop their own version of the Italian classic, and decided to take a less-is-more approach.
“We set out to create something a little bit more balanced and reasonably sized and not as heavy and overloaded with cheese,” Kluger tells InsideHook. “It was about balancing the amount of filling to dough and getting that ratio correct. It needs to be moist and not dried out, but also have some crunch to it and flake apart as you cut into it. But obviously I think the most important ingredient is the cheese.”
To strike the balance with their calzone, Kluger and Seligman opted for ricotta and mozzarella, then added basil and oregano. Also in the mix? Sausage, soppressata, parmesan and, of course, tomato sauce.
“Once it goes in the oven, that tomato sauce begins to caramelize a little bit and get really jammy and sweet,” Kluger says. “There’s sliced soppressata and parmesan on top, which creates these sausage crackers, so to speak. That’s what really brings the whole thing together. But, the whole point is it’s balanced. You won’t open it and have half-pound of cheese in one corner. I think what elevates this from other calzones is the balance of both the actual filling to the dough and the balance of texture and flavor.”
Perfected over the course of two weeks, Kluger’s final recipe for a sausage and soppressata calzone is below. Should you try to make it — and Kluger thinks that you should — a word of advice:
“An easy mistake is trying to get too much filling in. I would liken it to making ravioli for the first time,” he says. “You either put in way too much and it just oozes out and you have a huge mess, or you don’t put in enough and you have ravioli with no filling. I think a lot of people think about a pizza shop where they see a guy with a big ladle of tomato sauce on the counter and he’s smearing it all over. In reality, he’s not putting on as much tomato sauce as they think. But, they have this need to see tomato sauce, so they put way too much on and then you have a mess. So, have restraint with the amount of filling you’re putting in.”
Sausage and Soppressata Calzone
- One 200-gram portion Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough (see below)
- ½ cup ricotta
- 4 ounces (about ½ cup) loose hot Italian sausage
- 2 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn or cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped basil
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 tablespoons tomato sauce, plus 1 cup warm sauce for serving
- 2 to 3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 5 or 6 slices soppressata or pepperoni
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Stretch the dough into a 12-by-5-inch rectangle and place on a floured pizza peel. Spoon a line of ricotta along the bottom fourth of the dough (a long side), leaving a little room at the edges for sealing. Top with small pieces of sausage across the ricotta, and scatter the mozzarella and basil on top of that. Sprinkle with the oregano. Fold the top of the dough over the bottom to form a long tube, and press the edges closed, making sure they’re well sealed. Use scissors to cut three 1-inch vents across the top of the calzone to allow steam to escape. Brush the top of the calzone all over with the tomato sauce and sprinkle enough Parmesan on top to give it a light coating. Lay the soppressata across the top of the calzone, making sure not to cover any of the vents.
Transfer the calzone to a baking sheet and carefully push the edges to make a U shape. Bake the calzone until the crust is well browned all over and the cheese is starting to bubble through the air vents, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before slicing. Serve with additional tomato sauce for dipping.
Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough
- 594 grams all-purpose flour
- 291 grams whole-wheat flour
- 3 grams active dry yeast
- 18 grams kosher salt
- 525 ml water, slightly cooler than room temperature
- Extra-virgin olive oil
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flours, yeast and salt and whisk to combine. Place the bowl in the mixer and attached the bread hook. Turn the mixer to low speed, add the water, and mix until the flour is all moistened. Increase the speed to medium and mix until a dough forms and pulls away from the side of the bowl. Continue kneading the dough for 4 to 5 minutes. If your mixer isn’t up to the task, transfer the dough to the counter and knead until it springs back quickly when you poke it with a finger.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl and rub with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic and let sit in a cool spot (60°F to 70°F) for at least 12 hours. Makes about enough dough for seven calzones. If you’re not using the dough right away, divide it into seven pieces Wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours, or freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator.
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