Saturday, January 22, 2011

Mexican-Inspired Calzones

I got the inspiration to make these calzones when I was thumbing through Ree Drummond's cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks, not too long ago. She has a great recipe for pizza crust that she shares in the book, and then she lists a couple of different recipes for pizza, and finally a calzone recipe. They just sounded and looked so good, but I didn't have everything I needed on hand to make her version. No problem; I'd just make up my own variation!

First, you whip up a batch of Ree's pizza crust, which is easy and straightforward, as far as pizza crust recipes go. The thing I liked about the calzone recipe is that it uses up the whole batch, as opposed to pizza recipes which would only use up half the batch. Waste not, want not! Meanwhile, you prepare the calzone filling: brown some sausage, add in onion, then throw in a can of diced green chilies, 3/4 of a block of cream cheese, and a generous heap of salsa. Let everything become all incorporated, then let it cool some before assembling the calzones.

For the assembly, first you need to divide the crust into 8 equal portions. Roll each out, then add 1/8 of the filling to the circle. Fold it up, pinch the ends together to seal, then pretty it up by pressing the tines of a fork into the edges. Once you have every calzone assembled, spray them all down with some cooking spray (the higher-fat option would be to brush each with olive oil).

They bake up in about 15 minutes, and they taste like a gourmet Hot Pocket. But way, way better. The mixture is ultra creamy and slightly zesty, thanks to the cream cheese and salsa. The dough is perfect and delicious, and I loved how easy it was to work with. Plus, the possibilities are endless with calzones; the sky is the limit as far as fillings go. I can't wait to play around with other ideas for this. In the meantime, here's the recipe for this version.

Mexican Calzones
created by Bri
makes 8 calzones


1 lb. spicy pork sausage

1/2 onion, diced

1 (4 oz.) can diced green chilies

1/2 - 1 cup salsa, any kind

6 oz. cream cheese, cubed

1/3 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, optional

Flour, for dusting surfaces

1 recipe Pizza Crust (recipe follows)

Nonstick cooking spray


1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. In a large skillet, brown the sausage over medium-high heat, breaking up the meat as it cooks. When sausage is nearly cooked through, add the onions. Saute until onions are soft and meat is fully cooked. Remove the skillet from the heat, then add the diced green chilies, salsa, and cream cheese. Stir constantly until cream cheese has melted completely and the salsa is fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Set aside.

2. Take your pizza crust and divide it into 8 equal-size balls. With a rolling pin on a floured surface, roll each ball into a 6-inch circle. Place one-eighth of the meat and cheese mixture in the middle of each circle. Fold half of the circle over the other half, gently pressing to slightly spread and flatten the filling inside. Press a fork along the edge to seal closed, then transfer the calzone to a greased baking sheet. Repeat this with the remaining 7 balls of dough and the remaining filling. Lightly spray each calzone with cooking spray.

3. Bake the calzones for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer the calzones to a serving platter or wrap individually in foil.

Pioneer Woman's Pizza Crust

from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

makes 2 pizza crusts (or just enough for these 8 calzones)


1 tsp. or 1/2 packet active dry yeast

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling


1. Pour 1 1/2 cups warm water into a bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water.

2. Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on low speed, drizzle in the olive oil until just incorporated. In a separate bowl, gently stir the yeast/water mixture, and then drizzle it into the flour/oil mixture; mix until the dough forms a ball.

3. Drizzle a little olive oil into a clean bowl. Toss the ball of dough in the bowl and turn over to coat in oil. Cover the bowl with a moist kitchen towel and set in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours, or cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 2 days. If refrigerating, bring the dough back up to room temperature before using.

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