Calzone is a baked folded pizza. Italians and culinary purists might disagree with that definition but that’s the best way to explain what it is.
Calzone looks like a large empanada (pocket pie for the Brits and its former colonies) but, aside from having a filling and some similarities in the preparation, they’re totally different. While empanada dough is essentially a pie crust dough, calzone is made with yeasted dough that is more bread than pie crust.
Is calzone always baked and never fried? Hmmmm… yes and no. Calzone is traditionally baked but there is a fried variant called panzerotti.
Baked or fried, what’s inside a calzone?
In Italy, that depends on which region you’re ordering your calzone.
For us non-Italians, the easiest way to describe the filling is by imagining what goes on top of a pizza. If it’s good for pizza topping, it’s good for calzone filling. And that means cheese, meat and vegetables.
What about sauce? Pizza is covered with sauce before all the meat and veggies and cheese are added. Does calzone have a sauce inside it too?
First of all, not all pizza is smothered with sauce. Take carpaccio pizza, for instance, which has no sauce and NO CHEESE. The dough is drizzled with olive oil and flavored with herbs, and that’s it. The slices of carpaccio are added after baking.
Just like pizza, calzone may or may not have sauce inside.
But you have to have cheese in your calzone. What kind? Mozzarella is the most popular choice but you can use your preferred variety. Or, you can combine the rather bland mozzarella with a bolder-flavored cheese like mature cheddar.
So, how does one make calzone?
- Make the pizza dough.
- Simmer the tomato sauce until thick and pasty. Cool.
- When the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 500F.
- Divide the dough into as many calzones that you want to make.
- Take a piece of dough and roll to a thickness of less than a quarter of an inch.
- Spread tomato sauce on half of the rolled dough leaving a one inch margin along the edge.
- Scatter the cheese slices on top of the dough followed by the sliced meat and salami.
- Carefully fold the empty half of the dough over the filled half. Press and crimp the edges to seal.
- Repeat until all pieces of dough have been rolled, filled, folded and sealed.
- Transfer the filled dough to baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal.
- Slash the tops of the dough two to three times to create vents for steam to escape. If you don't do this, air pockets will form inside the calzone and that's not a good thing. And since you're working with yeasted dough and not pie crust, piercing with a fork won't work at all.
- Bake the calzone at 500F for about 15 minutes or until browned. The cooked dough should feel crusty when tapped.
- Serve the calzones whole or cut them in halves to display the gorgeous filling.