Calzones are the perfect meal for getting the whole family involved from start to finish. Enjoy watching the kids make a mess rolling out the doughs and layering in the ingredients. I made the sauce, ricotta, and sausage from scratch, but you can certainly go with store-bought ingredients for a faster weeknight meal.
Whenever I make pizza dough I always make extra because it freezes well. It's super helpful to have the option to thaw a dough for a quick homemade pizza or calzone. If you go the route of hand-mixing and kneading the dough, I suggest halving the recipe below to make mixing more manageable.
For this recipe, I rolled the doughs out to roughly 12 inches. For a thicker dough, rolling out to 8 inches wide will yield something more similar to the classic pizza pockets we all grew up eating. Make sure to let them cool after baking for a few minutes before digging in!
4 (6 oz.) pizza doughs ½ lb. spicy Italian venison sausage ½ lb. sweet Italian venison sausage 2 cups fresh mushrooms, wild or store-bought 1 cup fresh ricotta 1 cup pizza sauce 1 lb. fresh mozzarella ½ cup colossal green olives, pitted and lightly chopped 2 tbsp. fresh garlic, minced 1 package fresh basil Cornmeal for rolling the dough All-purpose flour for rolling the dough
Homemade Pizza Dough (Makes a dozen 6 oz. doughs) 3 lbs. all-purpose flour 1 oz. granulated sugar 1 oz. kosher salt ½ oz. active dry yeast 3 cups room temperature water 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Homemade Ricotta Cheese 6 cups whole milk 1½ cups heavy cream 2 tsp. coarse salt 2 tbsp. lemon juice 2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
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- Make the ricotta. I would suggest making the ricotta the day before, so it has time to drain and cool down before assembling the calzones. In a large pot, add all of the ingredients for the ricotta. Bring to a very light simmer and cook the mixture until you see the curd start to separate on the surface. Do not stir! Continue simmering for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. Leave the ricotta in the cheesecloth and let it drain overnight in the refrigerator.
- Make the dough. In a bowl, mix the yeast and sugar with room temperature water and let sit for 15 minutes. While the yeast is blooming, add the flour and salt to a standing mixer and mix on low speed with the hook attachment for 1 to 2 minutes. At low speed, gradually add the water and mix until the dough comes together. Now add the olive oil and mix at medium-low until the dough is nice and smooth—about 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the mixer and knead it on a smooth surface for a few minutes. Scrape the dough into a lightly floured plastic container, drizzle some olive oil over the dough, cover, and let the dough sit in a warm place until proofed to double in size. About two hours, depending on humidity.
- Remove the dough onto a clean surface and punch it down. Portion into equal 6-ounce portions. Roll into balls by cupping your hand over the dough and rolling in a circular motion until smooth. At this point, you can either transfer to a floured sheet tray and freeze for later use or cover with plastic wrap for the second proofing.
- Cover the dough balls for the calzones with plastic wrap for the second proofing. Let the dough proof until nearly doubled in size. While the dough is proofing, begin preparing the rest of the filling ingredients.
- Cook and sear the sausages in a little olive oil until browned and caramelized. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook until browned. Set the mixture aside to cool. Pit the olives and give them a chop. Pull the fresh basil leaves from the stems.
- Preheat the oven to 500ºF. Place a calzone dough on a clean, floured surface with a dusting of cornmeal. Press the dough down with your hands and use the rolling pin to evenly roll the dough into a circle roughly 12" wide. Repeat with the other doughs.
- Assemble the calzone. Start with a light amount of sauce. Next add the meat mixture. Add some ricotta and green olives. Finish with the slices of mozzarella and fresh basil leaves. Lightly brush the filling edge of the dough with water. Fold the empty half over the top of the filling and crimp the edges by folding over a small amount at a time and pressing down hard until you reach the end. Transfer to a baking sheet, pizza pan, or cast-iron skillet and reform as needed. Brush the calzones with olive oil and bake at 500ºF for 18 to 20 minutes or until crispy, bubbly and browned. Drizzle with olive oil, let cool for five minutes, and serve.