Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sausage and Potato Calzones

I've been pretty kitchen-bound on this blog, so I thought I'd take you on a field trip this time around. A while ago, I read one of those "it turns out you've been doing this all wrong" kind of articles online. Most of the items on the list were meat or cheese-related, but it did include pizza dough. And yes, it turned out I was doing it all wrong. Did you know there's a special pizza dough flour? Maybe I was the last person on earth to know this, but it's called "00" four, and it's pretty fantastic. I have a tried and true pizza dough recipe, made with unbleached flour, that I've made for years (see here). It's wonderful, but I've always wondered why I couldn't get it to be more like a restaurant-style dough. This flour is the key for two reasons: it's more finely ground and it contains less gluten (though it's not gluten-free).

I looked high and low for places here in Seattle where I could buy 00 flour and found only one: Big John's PFI in Sodo. It's a great little store in a warehouse down by the stadiums:

Wander the aisles and you'll find all sorts of interesting things, including the largest bulk spices section I've ever seen (this pic captures only about 1/4 of it).

The flours are in the back, and there's every possible kind you can imagine. You'll find the pizza flour along the back wall. It's a bargain at less than $2/pound.

If you can't get your hands on some 00 flour, don't worry. All-purpose flour will work just fine for this.

They also have some incredible bulk olives for sale at the front counter. I picked some up to put in the calzone, but it was hard not to eat them all before I got cooking. This is their house mix (the bella donna), but you can get just about any kind you want at a pretty fair price by the pound. Look at these beauties:

These turned out to be almost cartoonishly big calzones. Feel free to use smaller pieces of dough and less filling if you are feeding more people or want a smaller portion. I wasn't sure I could eat it all, so I cut it down the middle and did half at a time. I still ended up going back and getting that other half.

For the dough:
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 oz. packet yeast
4 cups "00" flour
1 tbsp sea salt
fine semolina (if you're using a peel and a pizza stone)

For the filling: 
1 1/2 lbs yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 package vegan sausage
1 medium sweet yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
6 oz (1 small can) tomato paste
1 tsp chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp sugar
2-3 cups shredded vegan mozzarella

Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the oil, sugar, yeast and 1 1/4 cups water heated to 115 degrees. Let the mixture sit until foamy (about 10 minutes). Mix the flour and salt in a separate bowl. With the hook running on low, slowly add the flour mixture and mix it until you've got a smooth dough. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let the dough sit at room temperature for an hour and a half until it's doubled in size.

Make the filling: Toss your potatoes with 1/4 cup of the olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread them evenly on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake them in a 400 degree oven until tender, about 10 minutes.

Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it's soft, about 8 minutes. Add the sausage, garlic, salt and pepper and cook until the sausage is browned.

Add the tomato paste, basil, sugar, salt and pepper and stir it around a bit to combine. It will be very thick.

Add 1/2 water and stir it around, letting it cook until it comes together and the sauce thickens a bit. Once it starts to pull away from the pan when you stir, you're where you need to be. If you're using olives, this is where you'd throw them in.

Once the dough is done rising, punch it down and dump it out onto a floured surface. Give it a couple of good kneads, but don't overwork it. Shape it into a ball and use a pastry cutter to divide it into four wedges. Take your first wedge and roll it out into an oval shape. Spread some filling onto it, leaving a good margin of dough around the edges. Top your filling with potatoes and cheese.

Fold the top half down over the filling until it meets with the bottom half of the dough. Press the edges together and crimp them with a fork. Cut three slits in the top of the calzone and repeat with the other three wedges of dough and the rest of the filling.

Bake in a 450 degree oven (or 500 if you're using a pizza stone) for 30-35 minutes, until the crust is puffy and browned. They will be insanely hot inside, so be careful when cutting into them. Here's a little cross-section view of the finished product.