Sunday, August 26, 2012

Experimental Cookery 2012: Popular Pizza Pies (Calzone)

This one comes from the Hairy Biker's "Perfect Pies", which I picked up on a whim from Tesco some months ago, and hadn't yet found opportunity to use. A calzone, in case you're not aware, is essentially a folded pizza - it looks something like a Cornish pasty, but with an entirely different set of ingredients within. In theory, they're lovely.

I'm not going to lie to you: this one's a bit involved. Putting the dough together takes a good 20 minutes, and requires some work. It then needs to be left an hour to rise, most of which I found was taken up in making the sauce and frying up some ingredients (they recommend mushrooms and salami, but given LC's unreasoning prejudice against fungi, I instead opted for chorizo and red pepper; we're going to be experimenting in the future).

Anyway, mix, knead, rise... chop, fry, stir... wait, wait, wait...

Putting it all together was relatively nice and easy, then there was a fold, a roll, and more waiting while the seal fixes. Then brush it with oil, and put it in the oven for 25 minutes.

We cooked them in two batches, and elected to eat from the second batch (due to timing). As the first batch came from the oven, LC's reaction was "oh wow..." Yes, they look good. Indeed, see for yourself:

So, then... how was it?

In one word: excellent.

In several more words, it was pretty much ideal - the crust was nicely browned and cooked, the filling was hot and suitably intense. All in all, it was a winner. Certainly, it blew Tesco's equivalent out of the water quite spectacularly. (And, fortunately, we have four left over to freeze. Huzzah!) We're definitely going to be having these again, and will no doubt put them into the rotation (along with the curries, lasagne, burgers, etc - those things that we make up in a batch and then freeze for later).

Two things, though: we're going to have to do some experimentation with the fillings. The chorizo and red peppers were great, but there are so many options out there to be tried, and no reason not to experiment. And LC noted that they would have benefitted with something to dip the crust in; a barbeque sauce or similar.

Tonight, we opted to have a calzone each and a few chips as an accompaniment. In future, I think they might be better served to have one between us, a few more chips, and a salad or similar as a side. One each was great, but it did feel a bit too much.

Anyway, it's a winner. Recommended.

One other consequence of this is that I find myself inspired. Jamie, Hugh, and Lorraine all do pizzas in their books, and they're all much the same as the Biker's calzone. And I do like a good pizza. So, I'm just going to give them a go, and see if they supplant store bought, or even takeaway, pizzas in my affections. Of course, there's a danger inherent in that, as I found when I did the burgers... if they're too good, they'll leave me entirely dissatisfied with convenience burgers, while at the same time not really having time to do the job 'properly' every time. Oh well, I guess it's quite a nice problem to have.

#29: "Pride and Prejudice", by Jane Austen (the #1 book on The List!)
#30: "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald (a book from The List)

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