Inner Beauty

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Pizza is great, but inside a pocket it can be even better. This is a bit of an over simplification — a calzone is so much more than a pizza pocket. While the outer crust is pizza dough, the inside can be so much more than just random pizza toppings.

Since the toppings are encased, it allows the placement of items that might otherwise burn while sitting on top of a pizza. The classics like ricotta, mozzarella, pepperoni, sausage are great, but feel free to think outside the box. Try some different themes: Philly cheese steak, Cuban sandwich, scrambled eggs and bacon — the sky is the limit. There are just a few key methods to learn before you dig into a calzone.

Dough
Pizza dough is pretty easy to make. If you are intimidated by making dough, you can go to just about any pizza place and buy some pre-made and proofed dough. If you want to try and make it, it only takes a few minutes to measure the ingredients, a little mixing, an hour for proofing… and during this time you can go work on something else. Then you can roll the dough into balls, flatten with a rolling pin or your hand to about a 10-inch to 12-inch circle, fill and bake.

Fill
You can come up with just about any filling combination you want. The classics are great, but your new combination might be better. Most items fare better in the calzone if they have been pre-cooked. If you want to use a sauce, make sure that it has been drained through a strainer or most of the moisture has been cooked away. If you have time, cool the ingredients down as well, this helps them not make the dough too soggy.

Stuff
Once you have the dough made, rolled and filling ready, it is time to stuff. Place your filling on the bottom half of the circle leaving about an inch around the bottom edge. Pull the top half of the dough over the filling. Fold small sections of about an inch, and crimp the dough with your fingers to hold it together. Brush the top of the calzone with melted butter, dust lightly with parmesan, cut a few small slits on the top to help the steam release. If needed, put a small amount of fine cornmeal or flour under the calzone to help prevent sticking.

Bake
An oven with a pizza stone works best, but is not mandatory. A sheet tray or cookie sheet will work fine. If using a stone, preheat oven with stone in it for about 30 minutes at 450, if no stone, 15 to 20 minutes should be sufficient. Just before baking the calzone, dust the cooking surface slightly with cornmeal or flour to help prevent the calzone from sticking.

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