Let's Dish With Linda Lou

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

Calzone Or Empanada?

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This recipe has the best of both worlds in my opinion. I love Calzone but, they can have too much dough. In this recipe, I’ve combined the filling of a Calzone and the outside pastry of an Empanada. My Homemade Pie Crust recipe link is available at the bottom of the post.  This recipe will need four pie crusts. What I like to do is, when I make pie dough is, I always make more than what I’m going to need for that day, then 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 put it into the frig 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, because you’ll need four pie crusts for the amount of filling that this recipe makes. The other great thing about this recipe #calzone, #empanadas is that you can everything in advance, then just bake them off when you’re ready. 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 cook the mushrooms and shallots. The reason for this is the butter gives great flavor while the olive oil has a higher burning point. A lot of time, with Italian cooking, they will use both, especially as you get further north.

Another way to bring an 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. Place the salty crispy bits of goodness onto a plate lined with 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 without having to add any additional salt.

Today I’m using a cast iron skillet, which gets nice and hot and heats evenly.  I’m not using Pancetta this time, I’m using, unsalted butter and olive oil. I also have all of my ingredients prepped. This helps to move the cooking process along, in a timely manner.

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Homemade Pie Crust

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time for filling 30 minutes
Baking time for filled pastries: 12-15 minutes
Yields: 6- 8 servings

1 package of sweet or spicy Italian sausage ( 5 sausage links casing removed)
2 sliced shallots
2 pints of cremini mushrooms, quartered
3 cloves of minced garlic
2 tablespoons of fresh chopped thyme leaves (1 tablespoon 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
1/2 cup unsalted chicken broth
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 diameter, pie dough circles
egg wash, 4 large eggs plus 4 tablespoons water beaten together

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Start off by using both unsalted butter and olive oil to large cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and shallots to the skillet. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the onions become translucent and mushrooms begin to brown.

Add the sliced mini sweet bell peppers along with the diced and seeded Fresno chili. Add those into the skillet and let those sauté, just for 2-3 minutes, stirring them with the mushrooms and shallots. Moving forward, 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, 12-15 minutes.

Once the sausage is nice and brown, you want to add a liquid to the skillet and scrape all of those good bits of flavor off the bottom of the pan. This is to deglaze. Keeping the pan, on medium-high heat, Add unsalted chicken broth into the pan and scrape all of those bits up with the back of the wooden spoon. Let the broth reduce and get absorbed by all the other ingredients, 3-5 minutes.

Add the 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, transfer all the ingredients from the pan to a large mixing bowl, leaving any or all grease behind, in the skillet.

Let all the ingredients cool before adding in the cheese.

Add shredded Mozzarella, grated Parmesan, and Ricotta cheese in with the cooled filling. Using a spatula, mix until all the ingredients are combined. 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. Lay the filling on the bottom third of the circle of pie dough almost all the way across. Take 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. 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. Take more of the egg wash, brush it all over the top and sides of the pie dough. Using a paring knife, vent the pies by making 4 small slits, in the top of each one.  Use a large spatula to transfer the filled Calzone/Empanada from the board onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place all 4 of the baking sheets into the refrigerator for 15 minutes to rest before baking off. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until the dough is golden brown.

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


Homemade Pie Crust

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