Calzone alla napoletana

I'm going to keep this post short, because my not-so-dream job has been keeping me busy, I'm prepping for a trip to New Orleans for my fifth wedding this year, and, best of all, my dad is in town for the week (!!!) having arrived last Saturday. And what better lunch for your dad after a 9 hour flight across the ocean with nothing but airplane food than a homemade, fresh out of the oven, calzone alla napoletana?!

A little background here -- the calzone hails from Naples, where it can also be fried instead of baked, in which case it is called pizza fritta (or panzerotto if you're in Puglia). The word calzone translates to "pant leg," in Italian -- appetizing, isn't it? -- which may be tied to the fact that calzone comes from the word calza, or stocking, something you can fill, much like how the calzone is filled with ingredients. Other theories say that the word calzone comes from the Latin word calceus which means "shoe," perhaps referring to the shape of the calzone, which I suppose could be interpreted as shoe-shaped. Had I been part of the Calzone Naming Committee way back in the day, I would've suggested something nicer and a bit more straightforward -- mezzaluna, for the blatant the half-moon shape?! -- but what's done is done, I suppose.

Putting aside shoes and pant legs and curious etymology, today's recipe is for a calzone filled with mild creamy ricotta and equally mild but gooey fior di latte, both of which both balance and complement the sharp saltiness of the Parmesan and the spicy heat of the salame, all of which is tucked in to a golden brown, perfectly chewy, nicely fluffy, crescent of dough. Its just as good as it sounds, and if you're deterred by the whole making-a-calzone-from-scratch thing, never fear! The dough comes together in no time, just a bit of mixing and kneading, at which point you leave it to rise for two hours, allowing you free time to - watch Netflix! paint your toenails! get a coffee! - that kind of thing. After the dough has risen, its just a matter of stirring together the filling ingredients, assembling the calzoni, and baking them for half an hour. If you're eating on Italian time -- i.e, around 8:30 -- and feeling a little more ambitious than usual, I'd say that these are even doable as a weeknight dinner, no joke. 

A couple of notes: If you can't find fior di latte where you are, mozzarella (the cows milk kind, not mozzarella di bufala) would be a good substitute. You can use Pecorino instead of the Parmesan if you'd like, and can substitute prosciutto for the salame. I used salame piccante (spicy salami) which gave the filling a nice kick. Note that this makes two very large calzones, serving either two very hungry people, or 4 or so people with smaller appetites.

Looking for other homemade bread recipes? I've got this pizza bianca, this rosemary focaccia, and these maritozzi, plus this challah bread and these bagels. Looking for other cheese-centric recipes?! I've got this parmigiana di melanzane, this tonnarelli cacio pepe, this rigatoni alle melanzane, this Torta Pasqualina, this Three-Cheese Zucchini Tart, this fettuccine with brie, tomatoes, and basil, this mozzarella in carrozza, and this roasted asparagus with gremolata and burrata.

CALZONE ALLA NAPOLETANA  

Ingredients for the calzone dough:
4 cups (500 grams) all purpose flour
1 cup (250ml) water, plus a little more if needed
2 1/2 teaspoons (12 grams) yeast
2 3/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Ingredients for the calzone filling:
1 1/4 cups (300 grams) ricotta
4 ounces (120 grams) salame, cut into pieces
A four ounce piece (150 grams) fior di latte cheese, cut into pieces
1/4 cup (20 grams) Parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg
Salt and pepper to taste

To finish (optional):
1/4 cup (about 4 spoonfuls) crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:
Start with your calzone dough. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, water, and yeast. Add the oil and salt and stir again. If the dough seems dry (mine did) add a bit more water by the tablespoon.
Stir again and when the dough starts to come together, turn it out on to a floured work surface. Knead the dough until it is smooth and pliable, about 10 or so minutes. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and let rise for two hours, or until doubled in size.

Next, start on the filling for your calzones. If using fior di latte, place in a strainer or colander for a bit to let the liquid drain off. Chop in to pieces and then squeeze any excess liquid out with paper towels (to avoid a watery calzone filling). Place in a bowl and add the rest of the filling ingredients, and stir until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Once the two hours are up, take your dough and place again on a lightly floured work surface. Dust the rolling pin you're using with a bit of flour too. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (220 degrees Celsius). Divide the dough in to two equal pieces and roll each piece out until it is about 1/4 of an inch thick. Move each piece of dough to a piece of parchment paper, if you want transporting your calzones later to be easier (otherwise, do as I did and use a spatula to move the assembled calzone to your baking sheet). Divide the filling up equally and spread on one side of each calzone.
Fold the calzones over on to the filling to make a half-moon shape, and then use a fork to seal the border of each calzone. If you're using it, stir together the olive oil and crushed tomatoes, and brush on the tops of the calzones (as you can see, I didn't use this). If you're not using tomatoes, brush the tops of the calzones with a little olive oil. Transport the calzones to your baking sheets very carefully, using a large spatula, or the parchment paper.
Bake the calzones in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 degrees (180 degrees Celsius) and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the calzones are golden brown. Let cool slightly and dig in. Makes 2 very large calzones, serving two very hungry people or 4 people with smaller appetites.

                                                                             


Recipe barely adapted from www.misya.com.















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