For those of you who don't know me well, I am a full-fledged pizza junkie. I'm no snob, either — I don't care whether it's Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles or Papa John’s down the street. I’ll eat a slice from a truck stop, no problem, and I keep a secret stash of pepperoni bagel bites in my freezer. It’s okay, I've got no shame! But my favorite pies and calzones are always the ones straight from my own oven.
My husband and I have had years to master our dough, toppings, and timing. These days we consider ourselves a well-oiled machine. We probably make pizza at least once a week, but every now and then we like to spice things up a bit, and that’s when we turn to calzones. (We are crazy like that!)
Calzones, which are basically just pizzas folded into half-moons, are particularly awesome because they can handle a little more ooey-gooeyness than your standard pizza. They are my go-to when I’m craving something drippy and cheesy that I can’t eat with my hands (these are fork-and-knifers!). You can stuff them with any of your favorite toppings, making personalized mini-calzones or even big ol' family sized ones. Whatever!
Calzones are especially great for using up any homeless items in your fridge at the end of the week. Some people make compost frittatas, I make compost calzones! Here is an all-time personal favorite of ours: barbecue chicken with red onions and smoked gouda. This is one we always have the ingredients for. I usually make my own dough — there's always a ball or two in the freezer — but it's totally fine if you want to pick up some from the store. While you're there, get a rotisserie chicken to use for the filling!
In this recipe here, I'm making a single, large, family-style calzone — just slice it in half and dinner is served! You can also divide the dough in half and make two smaller, individual calzones if you prefer. Either way, to make it a meal, all you need is some romaine lettuce and your favorite Caesar dressing.
BBQ Chicken Calzone
1 (8-ounce) ball pizza dough, homemade or store-bought, brought to room temperature
1/4 cup barbecue sauce, more to taste (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s)
1/4 cup pizza sauce, homemade or store-bought
1/2 medium red onion, very thinly sliced
3 to 4 ounces smoked gouda cheese, grated
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Red pepper flakes
All-purpose or bread flour, for rolling
Cornmeal or semolina, for dusting
Olive oil, for brushing
Preheat oven to 500°F. If you have one, place a pizza stone on the center rack.
Lightly flour a work surface (or large sheet of parchment paper) and a rolling pin. Gently flatten the dough ball with the tips of your fingers, then begin rolling out the dough with the rolling pin into a large circle. Make sure to keep lifting up the dough and dusting the surface with flour as needed, to keep it from sticking to the work surface. If the dough is springy and won’t hold its shape, let it rest for a few minutes. If you're not rolling the dough out on parchment, transfer it to a pizza peel dusted very generously with cornmeal.
Combine the shredded chicken and barbecue sauce in a mixing bowl. Taste and adjust amount of sauce as desired. Spread the tomato sauce on half of the pizza round, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the side. Pile barbecue chicken over the sauce, followed by a generous handful of red onions, shredded gouda, and Parmesan. Season with red pepper flakes and kosher salt.
Fold the dough over the toppings and press the edges to seal. Roll the edge up and over itself one more time and crimp with your fingers or a fork to further seal. Brush the calzone with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Slide the calzone onto the pizza stone (if using parchment you can slide the parchment directly onto the stone), or bake on a baking sheet. Bake until the calzone is hot and golden-brown, anywhere from 8 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the calzone, etc. Start checking early.
Allow the calzone to cool for 10 to 15 minutes for cutting in half and serving. Serve with additional tomato sauce and Parmesan on the side.
- Individual Calzones: To make smaller, individual calzones, divide the dough in half, then roll and stuff each half separately. Baking time might be slightly less, so begin checking the calzones after about 8 minutes of baking.