On a typical stroll down my mega-supermarket aisles, I can’t help but notice what is in other people’s carts…yes, I’m a food shopping voyeur, and I’m not ashamed. And like it or not, one of the frozen food items I see most often (usually being tossed in by a teenager) are Pizza Pockets. I won’t go into my personal thoughts about frozen, processed, snack items, but I will say that I wouldn’t let one fly into my shopping cart any time soon.
Yet their popularity made me wonder if I could create something similar from scratch, a handheld calzone that would be a fun dinner and just as delicious leftover snack. And since I’ve been trying to make as many things as possible on our new charcoal grill (while not burning down the house with enthusiastic bursts of canola oil spray) I thought I could combine these two experiments: hand held pizza with outdoor cooking.
My guide was from Susan Spungen’s book: Recipes For the Modern Cook. Susan was not only the founding editorial director for Martha Stewart Living, she was also the food stylist for the movie It’s Complicated.
I followed her slightly longish dough recipe but I don’t expect you to make you’re own unless you want to—you can do this pretty nicely with decent store-bought version like Trader Joe’s—but I did make dough from scratch because I was home from work and had the time to punch out dough and wait for it to rise. So try your favorite dough recipe or also consider Jim Lahey’s very simple roman pizza dough recipe that I wrote about for The Family Kitchen HERE. When the dough is done rising you’ll cut it into 8 pieces, shape the pieces into balls, let them rest for 10 more minutes covered lightly in plastic wrap, and then form each ball of dough into a disk for your calzone. If you make all 8 you will have enough pizza pockets for at least 6 hungry family members, with two more to share or for leftovers.
Once you’ve straightened out your dough you can focus on your fillings.
After hearing about a swiss chard and goat cheese pizza at Mario Batali’s restaurant OTTO (our plucky summer sitter/visiting cousin ordered it on a day trip to NYC—don’t you want to be my summer sitter?) I decided to copy that combination, as well as add prosciutto and then make a few others with just cheese—this way there would be a selection for both kids and adults. For the chard I sauteed it first: the stems of one bunch chopped thin and sauteed in olive oil with some crushed garlic, and then the leaves roughly chopped and added in to cook, covered, for about 3 more minutes or until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. If you don’t have or want to use chard (although what a great way to get it into a family meal!) you can also use spinach or mushrooms. Same with the cheese, feel free to mix it up.
To start forming the pocket place a ball of dough on a surface lightly dusted with cornmeal (to prevent sticking), put one thin slice of prosciutto (if using) in the middle and any cheese and/or vegetables on one side. Fold the disk in half to make a semi-circle and press the edges together to seal tightly. Brush both sides with a little olive oil.
Heat a grill to medium heat and when ready, place your calzone directly on the grate. Cover the grill. After 3 minutes check on it to make sure it’s not burning. If crust is starting to char move the calzone to a cooler part of the grill and flip it.
I had a few charred spots on mine(practice will hopefully make perfect) and I just scraped them off.
Serve with a side of tomato sauce (I just simmered a can of san marzano tomatoes with some olive oil and basil).
It was a perfect summer meal, everyone picked and chose which ones they wanted, and even my pickiest eater (Conor) told me they were better than pizza before devouring one whole.
Although making these may not be as easy as throwing a frozen box into a cart, they were pretty easy to assemble (get the kids to help!) and fun to make.
You may never nuke a pocket again.