I got the dough recipe from an old Betty Crocker supermarket cookbook called ‘The Weekend Chef’ in 1988. It was originally filled with ground beef, cabbage, and onion; then I dug up a recipe I’d saved from the Boston Globe for Indian-spiced cabbage with cumin seed, tomatoes, ginger, turmeric, ground red pepper and coriander. Tasty, and vegetarian too! Then, no doubt one Saturday night while I was puttering in the kitchen listening to Noah Adam’s show ‘Good Evening’ – a replacement for ‘A Prairie Home Companion’ that I actually quite liked while it lasted; I came up with what is now considered THE filling for Buzzy Calzone – hot and sweet Italian sausages, decased, cooked and drained, then mixed with Howard’s Pepper Relish (there really is no replacement for this – every other pepper relish I’ve tried is a pale substitute), and shredded pepper jack cheese. Sweet, hot, gooey and tangy – but not too much of any one thing – people go kinda nuts for these – and so the poor cabbage filling has lain by the wayside for lo these many years…
In all truth, I’ve always thought they were a bit messy to eat, and had offered the filling wrapped in tidy little wonton packets as easy cocktail fare, but folks really seem to prefer the messy slice of sausage, relish and cheese wrapped in dough sprinkled with corn meal. One recipe will usually yield two nicely sized calzones; perfect for a party, or have one now and freeze the second for another time. Actually, the weekend Rich and I met, I was back in Boston for a friend’s birthday, and my mission was to make four calzones – all done in an evening over cocktails and put aside for the party the next day – ooh, and then lobster cakes at the Dan’l Webster Inn in Sandwich the day after that – but that’s another story… On to the calzones!
•One package each; sweet and hot Italian sausages, casings removed (or, buy the bulk sausage if you can find it)
•1 jar Howard’s Pepper Relish – hot or sweet – the ‘hot’ is, as I like to call it ‘New England Hot’ – tangy, but nothing that’ll roast your innards or anything like that
•1 (8 oz) block pepper jack cheese, shredded – my current favorite is Crystal Farms – creamy with a really nice bite
•2-1/2 to 3 cups flour
•1 pkg yeast – the recipe calls for quick-acting, but I know for a fact that I have never used anything but regular yeast
•1 tbsp sugar
•1 tsp salt
•1/2 cup water
•1/3 cup milk
•1 tbsp margarine or butter
•1 egg – lightly beaten
Putting it all together:
Cook and drain the sausages. Let cool, then mix with the pepper relish and pepper jack cheese. Set aside.
Make the dough:
Mix 1-1/2 cup flour, the yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Heat the water, milk and butter or margarine to 125º to 130º (or, hot, but not too, too hot). Stir into flour mixture. Add egg, then stir in enough remaining flour to make the dough easy to handle. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic – about five minutes – OR – do the whole thing in your mixer with the dough hook and stop mucking about with floured surfaces and kneading. Cover and let rest for five to ten minutes.
Heat oven to 375º and lightly grease a cookie sheet.
Divide dough in two. One at a time, turn onto a surface dusted with corn meal (you could use flour for this, but I really like the texture corn meal gives to the finished calzone) and roll into a large rectangle. Place filling down the middle and fold the dough over like a package, sealing all seams with water. Brush with butter or margarine and set seam side down on the cookie sheet. Cover and let rise twenty minutes.
Bake for about twenty minutes until golden brown – the dough will sound kind of ‘hollow’ when you knock it. Serve warm; or let cool, wrap and chill or freeze until needed. Reheat in a slow oven for about 30 or 40 minutes (thaw in the fridge if frozen). A tasty snack for a party, or an easy dinner to pull from the freezer and serve with a salad.
Now, I think I may have to make that cabbage…