Welcome to Pizza and a Movie! Today we are making Pepperoni Calzones instead of pizza. I have never made a calzone at home, so this was a fun changeup. I wanted these calzones to be a little heftier than just pepperoni, sauce and cheese, so I made a meat sauce with large chunks of sausage – it’s more of a Sausage and Pepperoni Calzone. Our movie today is an older movie, from 2004. Collateral, stars Jamie Foxx and Tom Cruise, with Jada Pinkett Smith and Mark Ruffalo. Let’s get to it!
This sauce will take about 40 minutes from start to finish, so go ahead and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Position the oven rack to the center-top position. Take a rimmed sheet tray and brush a tablespoon of olive oil on the surface. Set that tray aside until we are ready to bake the calzones.
We will start by browning the sausage. I have Italian sausages that I just snipped and squeezed out of their casings. Over medium heat, I browned the sausage without breaking it up too much because I want there to be large chunks of sausage.
Since this sauce is a big part of this calzone, I want the onions to have more of a presence, rather than fading into the background, so I have just sliced them, instead of dicing them. Once the onions have softened slightly, add 1/4 cup of red wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up the fond from the pan.
Add the sliced onions. 1/4 cup red wine.
I have a 28-ounce can of whole San Marzano tomatoes that I have crushed by hand. Pour the crushed tomatoes and their juice into the pot and stir to combine. Bring this to a simmer and reduce the heat to keep a low simmer.
Add the tomatoes and their juice. Stir to combine.
Like a Chicago-style pizza, where the sauce is a main character in the production, I want this sauce to be chunky, robust and to bring pops of flavor and texture. So I am adding about 10 whole cloves of frozen garlic. The garlic will cook through and become soft; it will take on a sweet garlic flavor, like roasted garlic. Add fresh cracked black pepper and a pinch of Kosher salt. Stir to combine and continue simmering.
Add whole cloves of garlic. Stir and add fresh cracked black pepper and a pinch of Kosher salt.
A Note on the Frozen Garlic:
I keep a bag of peeled garlic cloves in the freezer and I have noticed that the frozen garlic loses some of its sharpness through the freezing process, so I recommend using frozen garlic cloves for this recipe to achieve the softness and sweet roasted garlic flavor at the end of the relatively short cooking time of this sauce.
Add some herbs. Optional: fresh tomatoes.
I have a handful of fresh herbs from my garden; several sprigs of rosemary and thyme. You can tie them up with a little piece of kitchen twine so they’re easier to fish out later. I did not do this, and it was a pain in the ass to fish out the stems. Additionally, I have some tomatoes from the garden that needed using, so I sliced them in largish pieces and added them to the sauce. Continue to let this simmer and reduce for about 20 minutes.
Let simmer and reduce. Finally, add a splash of balsamic vinegar.
After about 20 minutes of simmering, the sauce should be thickened up a bit. Turn off the heat and stir in a splash of Balsamic vinegar. Overall this sauce simmered for about 30-35 minutes after the tomato sauce went into the pot. You can definitely let it go longer if you want, but a 35-minute simmer thickened it up enough for the calzone.
The Pizza Dough
Pizza dough ball. Cut in half. Roll out to 9-inch rounds.
This pizza dough is a one-pound dough ball that I have let sit on the counter for about 40 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, use a bench scraper to chop the dough in half. Try to reshape the cut side into a round shape. Dust the doughs with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Then, use a rolling pin to roll out each piece into a 9-inch round(ish) shape. It’s ok if the dough springs back a little, once you get some toppings on it, you can continue to stretch out the edges.
Building the Calzones
Start with cheese. Then add the pepperoni. Top that with a little more cheese.
Leaving a one-inch border, cover one side of the dough with an even layer of fresh grated mozzarella. Top the cheese with pepperoni; I have thick cut, coin-size pepperoni. Then, top the pepperoni with more cheese. Now for the chunky, meaty sauce: spread a ladle-full of sauce over the top of the cheese.
Top the sauce with more cheese. And then, brush the topping edge with water – this will help seal the calzone.
Now, fold the empty side of the dough over the toppings-side and press the dough edges together tightly. Brush the seam-edge with more water then fold the seam back over itself and crimp the half-moon edge.
Fold the dough over the filling and press the edges together. Brush with a little more water. fold the seam over, and crimp the edges.
Transfer the calzone to the oiled sheet tray. With a paring knife, make two, one-inch cuts in the top of the calzone to act as steam vents. Repeat this building process with the second calzone.
Brush both calzones with olive oil and bake on the center-top rack for 20 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned.
Once they come out, let them cool for 5-7 minutes before cutting. Each Pepperoni Calzone slices nicely into three wedges, or slice it right in half. Gooey cheese will flow out when you cut it to reveal the molten insides and crunchy, chewy, puffy crust. The thick cut pepperoni is ideal, so it stands up with the robust sauce, but honestly, I could have left out the ‘roni and just had sauce and cheese and these would still be exceptional. It’s all about that chunky, tomato and meat sauce.
Movie Night: Collateral
We have our calzones, hot and ready, so let’s get to the movie! As I mentioned at the top, this movie came out in 2004. I wouldn’t have thought to watch this, but I am glad Alex chose it for movie night; it is a great film. I am not going to go into details on the plot or trajectory of this film; to do so would be to give away the most tense parts of this thriller. Also, I included the trailer here, but I never saw the trailer before seeing the movie and I am glad, because I had no idea what was coming, and that made the movie that much more enjoyable. So, if you like Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, and exciting thrillers, don’t watch the trailer, just go watch the movie!
Thanks everyone for joining me here today for Pizza and a Movie! It was fun to mix things up a bit with the Pepperoni Calzones, but if you’re looking for a pizza recipe, definitely check out past posts on Pizza and a Movie. Be sure to follow me on Instagram and Pinterest too!
Thick, rich tomato and meat sauce with mozzarella cheese and pepperoni, enveloped in pizza dough to make a handy pizza pocket. It's a Calzone!
- Meat Sauce
- 4 Italian Sausages, casings removed
- 1/2 Red Onion, sliced
- 1/4 cup Red Wine
- 1 28-oz. Can of Whole Tomatoes, hand crushed
- 1 tsp. Black Pepper
- Kosher Salt to taste
- 5-10 Garlic Cloves, frozen
- 5-7 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme
- 2-3 Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary
- 2-4 Fresh Tomatoes, cut into large pieces
- Splash of Balsamic Vinegar
- Pepperoni Calzones
- 1 1-lb. Pizza Dough Ball, at room temperature
- 2 cups Grated Mozzarella
- Thick Cut Pepperoni
- Olive Oil
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Position the oven rack to the center-top position.
Brush a tablespoon of olive oil on the surface of a rimmed sheet tray. Set aside until we are ready to bake the calzones.
In a Dutch oven or large pot, over medium heat, brown the sausage, breaking it up into large chunks as it cooks.
Once browned, add the onion slices. Sauté until softened slightly, then deglaze the pan with the red wine, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot.
Add the crushed tomatoes and their juices to the pot and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low.
Add whole cloves of garlic along with black pepper and a pinch of Kosher salt.
Bundle the fresh herb sprigs and tie with kitchen twine and add the bundle to the pot.
Add the fresh tomatoes. Stir and let simmer for 20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened a bit, then turn off the heat.
Add the splash of balsamic vinegar, stir and taste for seasoning. Add more Kosher salt and pepper if desired.
On a lightly floured surface, use a bench scraper to cut the dough ball in half and reshape each piece into a circle.
Use a rolling pin to roll doughs out to 9-inch rounds.
On one side of the dough, leaving a 1-inch border, spread a layer of mozzarella.
Add several pieces of pepperoni and top with more cheese.
Spread a ladle-full of the meat sauce on top and add another layer of cheese.
Brush water on the 1-inch border on the toppings-side of the dough.
Lift and fold the empty side of the dough over the filling and press the ends together.
Brush a little more water on the seam edge and fold the seam over itself and crimp the half-moon edge.
Place the calzone on the oiled sheet tray and use a paring knife to make two, one-inch cuts in the top of the calzone.
Repeat process with the other calzone.
Brush both calzones with olive oil and bake on the center-top rack for 20 minutes, until the crust is browned.