Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Calzone Or Empanada?

on February 6, 2015

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This recipe has the best of both worlds in my opinion. I love Calzone but they can be really doughy to me. In this recipe I combined the filling of what’s in a Calzone and the outside pastry of an Empanada. For the dough, my recipe is titled ” The Perfect Crust” and can be found when you type that into the search bar of my food blog. My recipe for pie crusts, yields two crusts. This recipe that I’m making here will need four pie crusts. What I like to do is, when I make pie dough, I always make more than what I’m going to need for that day and freeze it. This really helps when I want to make a recipe like this one. I just take the dough out of the freezer the night before and put it into the frig until I’m ready to roll it out. Now I will say this,  there are great ready- made pie dough available in the grocery store. If you don’t have the time to make your own pie dough, pick up two boxes, because you’ll need four pie crusts for the amount of filling that this recipe makes. Don’t worry you will definitely want to have four of these #calzone, #empanadas. The other great thing about this recipe is that you can make all this in advance, and just bake them off the night you want to have them. This is how my filling for this recipe starts.

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To start off I’m using both unsalted butter and olive oil to saute the mushrooms and shallots in. The reason for this is the butter gives great flavor while the olive oil has a higher burning point. A lot of time in Italian cooking they will use both, especially as you get further north into Italy. Another way to bring added depth of flavor to this dish is to start out with around 1/4 cup of diced Pancetta. Render all the fat out, remove the Pancetta with a slotted spoon and place the salty crispy bits of goodness onto a paper towel until you’re ready to add them back into the filling. An important tip to remember here is, if you are going to replace the butter and olive oil with Pancetta in this dish, you may want to decrease the amount of Kosher salt you use, if any at all. Pancetta can add enough salty flavor, that you may not need to add any at all. Today I’m using a cast iron skillet,  which gets nice and hot and heats evenly.  As I mentioned earlier, I’m not using Pancetta this time, I’m using, unsalted butter and olive oil. I also have all of my ingredients prepped in advance, whether they’ve been sliced, diced, quartered, or the sausage having been removed from it’s casing, I do all of that before I start the cooking process. This helps so that as you need to add an ingredient, it’s ready to go. I throw in some sliced shallots and let them saute until translucent. Next for some cremini mushrooms that I quartered. I let those cook over med heat until they release all their water and brown nicely. To the mushrooms I add in some fresh thyme leaves and minced garlic. Stirring all this around, letting those flavors marry.

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For the next step in the filling, I want to add some more flavorings. I’ve sliced up some mini sweet bell peppers, along with a diced and seeded Fresno chili. I throw all that into the skillet and let those saute, just for a minute, stirring them around with the mushrooms and shallots. No need to cook them all the way because, when I add the sweet Italian sausage in they will continue to cook during the browning of the sausage. Moving forward, I add in the sweet Italian sausage with some dried oregano, Kosher salt, and black pepper. Breaking the sausage up with the back of a wooden spoon and giving it time to really brown. You want to stir the sausage around every few minutes to make sure it’s all browning evenly.

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In the picture above, this is what you have after the sausage has completely browned and cooked through. At this point I want to add some liquid to deglaze the skillet and grab all of those good bits of flavor off the bottom of the pan. There are a few choices you can use to do this. A dry Sherry, a dry white wine, or just a low sodium chicken broth like I’m using in the recipe. Keeping the pan still on med heat, I add some of the chicken broth into the pan and scrape all of those bits up with the back of the wooden spoon. Let the liquid reduce an get completely absorbed before adding in the next ingredient.

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I like to add some type of greens to my filling so here I’m adding in some fresh spinach leaves. This takes only a minute or two to wilt down and then once that happens, remove the pan from the heat. Using a slotted spoon, I remove all the ingredients from the pan, without any of the fat that may have accumulated at the bottom of the skillet.

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Now you want to let all the ingredients in the bowl to cool for a few minutes before adding in the cheese.

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In this bowl I have shredded Mozzarella, Parmesan, and Ricotta cheese that I’m adding in to my cooled filling. mix that all though until all the cheese has combined with all the other ingredients.  Next for the pie dough. If you have your own pie dough, you want to roll all four of them out into about 10 inches in diameter.

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 Divide the filling into four equal parts. Lay the filling on the bottom third of the round circle of pie dough almost all the way across. Take some egg wash and brush the egg wash all around the perimeter of the circle. Fold the dough over the filling meeting up with the other side of the dough.  Press the filling gently down so it spreads out evenly inside of the pie dough. I like to crimp the edges with a fork to ensure no filling will escape. I then take a paring knife and trim any excess dough around the edges that I don’t need. All that does is to make the crimped edges even and rounded. For appearance only. Take some more of the egg wash, and brush it all over the top and sides of the outside of the dough. Use a large spatula and remove the filled Calzone/ Empanada from the board onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place all 4 of the baking sheets with filled pastry dough into the frig for 15 minutes to rest before baking off. Make 4 small slits in the top of each one for the steam to escape. Bake at 400 degrees, anywhere from 11-14 minutes or until the dough is golden brown.

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Let these savory pastries cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting into them. Serve with your favorite Marinara sauce for dipping.

Bake :400 degrees
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time for filling 30-40 minutes
Baking time for filled pastries: 11-14 minutes
Yields: 6- 8 servings

1 package of sweet or spicy Italian sausage ( 5 sausage links)
2 sliced shallots
2 pints of cremini mushrooms quartered
3 cloves of minced garlic
2 tablespoons of fresh chopped thyme leaves (1 teaspoon of dried)
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
5 mini sweet bell peppers sliced and seeded
1 Fresno chili diced and seeded
1 package of fresh spinach leaves
1 cup of Ricotta cheese
1 cup of shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
2 large beaten eggs along with 2 tablespoons of water for egg wash
4- 10 inch circles of pie dough

Directions: Have all the prep done in advance for the filling. have the pie dough, whether homemade, or store bought in the frig ready to go. Make the filling first using the steps as explained above. Remove the ingredients from the skillet or pan using a slotted spoon to drain most of the fat that has accumulated in the pan. Let the filling cool slightly before adding in the cheese. Get the baking sheets ready and lined with parchment paper. Roll out the dough to approx.10 inch circles one at a time fill them as explained above. Brushing egg wash around the inside to ensure the edges with stick Then using a fork crimp the edges, so filling doesn’t escape. Brush the outside with egg wash and place them into the frig to rest, for at least 15 minutes before baking. Set the oven at 400 degrees and bake off for 11-14 minutes or until the dough is cooked through and golden brown. These delicious savory pastries can be served hot or at room temperature. Serve with a side of your favorite marinara sauce for dipping.


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