In my opinion, this recipe has the best of both worlds. I love Calzone but, they can have too much dough. In this recipe, I’ve combined the filling of a Calzone and pie dough for the crust like an Empanada.
My Homemade Pie Crust recipe link is available at the bottom of the post. 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’m wanting to make a recipe like this one. I just take the dough out of the freezer the night before and transfer to the refrigerator until I’m ready to roll it out.
There are some really great ready-made pie crusts available in the grocery store. If you don’t have the time to make your own pie dough, pick up two boxes. This recipe calls for 4 pie crusts The other great thing about this #calzone or #empanada, the recipe is everything can be made in advance, just bake them off when you’re ready.
I’m going to be using butter and olive oil for this dish. A lot of times, in Italian cooking, they’ll utilize both, especially as you get further into northern regions of Italy. We all know butter is FLAVOR!🧈
Another great way to bring a depth of flavor to this dish is to start out with around 1/4 cup of diced Pancetta. Add the Pancetta to a cold cast-iron skillet. Cook over medium-high heat and render all the fat out. Using a slotted spoon, remove the Pancetta transferring those salty crispy bits of goodness onto a plate lined with a paper towel. Use the Pancetta grease to cook the shallots and mushrooms. 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 adds a salty flavor naturally.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time for filling 30 minutes
Baking time for filled pastries: 12 to 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Equipment: 1 (12-inch) cast-iron skillet, 2 large mixing bowls, medium-size bowl, rubber spatula, large metal spatula, 4 rimmed baking sheet pans, parchment paper
Note: Make pie dough the day before.
1 pound of sweet or hot Italian sausage (5 sausage links casing removed)
1 tablespoon of butter, unsalted
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 pints of cremini mushrooms, quartered
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of freshly chopped thyme leaves (substitute 1 tablespoon of dried)
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
5 mini sweet bell peppers, seeded and sliced
1 Fresno chili, seeded and minced
1/2 cup chicken stock, unsalted
1 package of fresh spinach leaves
1 cup of Ricotta cheese, whole milk
1 cup of store-bought shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 cup of store-bought shredded Parmesan cheese
4 (10-inch in diameter, 1/4-inch thick) pie dough circles
*egg wash, 4 large eggs plus 4 tablespoons water beaten together
Serve with a side of marinara sauce for dipping, homemade or store-bought
Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.
To start, add both the butter and olive oil to a preheated cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced shallots cook for about 2 to 3 minutes stirring frequently. To the skillet add the cremini mushrooms. Continue cooking allowing the mushrooms to release their water. Occasionally stirring, once the mushrooms have released all their water they will start browning, around 5 to 7 minutes. Add the minced garlic and fresh thyme leaves, stir through.
Next, add the sliced mini sweet bell peppers along with Fresno chili. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring with the mushrooms and shallots. Moving forward, add the sweet Italian sausage, dried oregano, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Turn the temperature up to medium-high, break the sausage up using the back of a wooden spoon allowing the sausage to brown evenly. Stir occasionally until there is no pink and the sausage is cooked through about 12 to 15 minutes.
Once the sausage is nice and brown, you want to *deglaze the pan by adding unsalted chicken broth to the skillet. Using a wooden spoon, scrape all of those good bits of flavor off the bottom of the pan. Allow the stock to reduce and get absorbed by all the other ingredients, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the fresh spinach, stir through, the spinach will wilt down very quickly. Once that happens, remove the pan from the heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer all the ingredients to a large mixing bowl, leaving any or all excess grease behind.
Allow the filling to cool before adding in the cheese.
In another large mixing bowl, add the shredded mozzarella, grated Parmesan, and Ricotta cheese, mix to combine. Using a rubber spatula, combine the cheese mixture together with the sausage mixture, stir until combined.
In a medium-size bowl add the eggs and water, whisk to combine.
Next, 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, 1/8 inch thick.
Divide the filling into four equal parts. Using a spoon lay the filling on the bottom third of the circle of pie dough almost all the way across. 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. Using a fork, crimp the edges to ensure no filling will escape. Take a paring knife and trim any excess dough from around the edges that. All that does is to make the crimped edges even and rounded. This gives a professional look to the pies. Brush more of the egg wash all over the top and sides of the pie dough.
Using a paring knife, vent the pies by making 4 small slits, at the top of each one. Use a large spatula to transfer the filled Calzone/Empanada from the board onto a rimmed baking sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Place all 4 of the baking sheets into the refrigerator for 15 minutes to rest before baking off. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the dough is golden brown.
Allow the Calzone Or Empanada to cool for at least 15 minutes. Serve with your favorite marinara sauce for dipping.
*egg wash is a mixture of beaten eggs and milk or water brushed over pastry or dough before baking in order to give an attractive color and shine to the surface.
*deglaze is a cooking technique for removing and dissolving browned food residue from a pan to flavor sauces, soups, and gravies.