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Chicken & Broccoli Calzone

October 18, 2011

When my husband and I first started living together, one of the quick and easy dinners we would make often was a home-made pizza.  We’d buy Boboli pizza crust (or something similar) and then just make our own toppings and pop it into the oven on a pizza pan we purchased.  They were always so yummy and so easy.  Really, what’s there not to like?  The pizza’s piled high with heapings of mozzarella cheese and we could make so many different varieties of pizza.  We’ve tried margherita pizzas, Hawaiian pizzas, and bbq chicken pizzas.  However, after a while of constantly making pizza, we got kind of bored with it.

Once we started using our bread machine, we realized that the bread machine could make dough.  That was a revelation!  Now we didn’t have to go out and buy pre-made dough.  We could make it at home.  The only downside to making dough at home is that the dough cycle on the machine takes 1:30, which means it’s not really a meal you could come home and make and eat in the same night.  What we’ve had to do is adapt and make the dough in advance, refrigerate or freeze it, and then take it out when we want to use it.

Awhile back, my husband realized that since we could make our own dough, we weren’t confined to just pizzas.  We could try calzones.  Calzone in Italian literally  translates to “stocking” or “trouser”.  In the food world, however, a calzone is pretty much like a pizza, only it’s stuffed, and then folded over into a crescent shape before it’s baked.  That’s probably where the word calzone comes from, it’s like a stocking that you stuff something in to.  It’s similar to a contained pizza, that’s easy to eat and take on-the-go.  Like a pizza, a calzone can have a whole variety of stuffings.  And generally a marinara sauce is served on the side to dip the calzone into.

We’ve tried making calzones a couple of times now.  The first time, we did a proscuitto and cheese calzone with marinara sauce.  Recently, we thought we’d change it up a bit.  So we opted to make a grilled chicken and roasted broccoli calzone with mozzarella, and we served marinara sauce on the side.

Once our dough had been made in the bread machine, we let it sit overnight in a greased bowl and covered it with plastic wrap.  When we were ready to cook, we dumped the dough out onto a floured surface and kneaded the dough a bit to help release some of the glutens.

Since we had a lot of dough, we took our dough cutter and split the dough into four sections for the four calzones we made.  Each calzone turned out to be huge in size.  We each ate one for dinner and each had one for lunch the next day.  But realistically, you could make small calzones and get 6 good-sized calzones out of this dough.

Once my 4 pieces of dough were separated, I worked with them one at a time.  Using a rolling pin, I rolled each out into the size of a small pizza.  You don’t want to roll the dough so thin that the stuffing you put inside breaks the dough, or makes it too fragile to even fold and seal.  But, again, you don’t want to make it so thick that when it cooks all you’re eating is dough.

Now that the dough is all rolled out, you want to stuff only half of the calzone with your chosen stuffing.  Remember, the half you don’t stuff gets folded over the side you do stuff.  We first put grilled chicken down on the calzone dough.

After the grilled chicken, we layered chopped roasted garlic broccoli on top that I had made earlier.  On top of the chicken and broccoli we topped it with shredded mozzarella cheese; a generous handful.  The cheese will melt and became the “sauce” for the inside of the calzone.

Once all the stuffing has been put on the calzone dough, you take the half that wasn’t stuffed and fold it over the stuffed half to form a crescent-shaped object.  I generally use a little dab of water on the dough to help seal the 2 halves together.  When you’ve brought the 2 halves together, you really want to make sure that the calzone stays sealed, so I generally roll up the edges, and then use my finger to press down every inch or so to really create a seal; similar to how you’d crimp the edge on a pie crust you made at home.

You’ll want to transfer your calzone to a greased baking sheet, and then brush a simple egg wash over the dough.  When the dough bakes up, the egg wash will help it get that nice crusty top and golden brown color.

Last step before you put your calzone into the oven is to cut a few simple slits into the calzone to allow heat and steam to escape so your calzone doesn’t balloon up; it’s the exact same reason while you’d cut slits into pie dough when you have your fillings encased in dough.

Put the calzone into your preheated oven and let the oven do the work.  After 40 minutes, your calzone will be ready to eat.  The crust will turn a beautiful shiny golden brown color, and you should see a little bit of cheese oozing out of the slits that you cut.

You’ll want to serve the calzone immediately.  My husband made a simple marinara sauce on the side that we could dip the calzone into.  When you cut the calzone in half you can see all that yummy roasted broccoli and grilled chicken and see how nicely the mozzarella has melted inside the calzone to form a nice “sauce” and glue for your broccoli and chicken.

One bite and you’ll be hooked.  It tastes wonderful, and it’s really healthy too.  And the great thing about a calzone is that anything that you’d normally eat on a pizza can easily be stuffed into your calzone.

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