Can anyone else believe that it is already football season? Don't get me wrong, I am crazy excited to spend Saturdays cheering on my Huskers, but to me, it shouldn't be September yet. Having never lived anywhere other than Nebraska, I am finding it different that much of the football focus here is on the pros rather than college. While I still prefer college football over pro football, both types certainly have one thing in common - GAME FOOD!
Pizza and football are something that go hand-in-hand in my mind, and these calzones are something that would make a great addition to any football party. I found them quite a while ago on Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy and bookmarked them immediately. My husband has this categorization in his mind of game food - it has to be something that is hand-friendly and portable. These could easily fit that bill. Self-contained and stuffed with sweet and spicy sausage, peppers, and onion. Game food indeed.
While we loved the idea of these, I think I will change up the type of sausage if we make them again. In her recipe, Susan calls for whole sausages that she slices, bakes, and then finishes in a skillet on the stove. Her reasoning is that it helps decrease the fat as opposed to frying it. While that is valid point, the fat in the skillet (from the sausage) can always be drained, and I think that crumbled sausage would fit into the calzones much easier. Next time, I think I'll try using some locally-made chicken sausages and removing the casing to get that crumbled effect. I'll let you know :) My only other complaint with these is the dough that I used. I've been looking for "that" pizza crust recipe, and the dough that I used for this one wasn't it. It didn't really brown and just wasn't our favorite, so use your favorite homemade or purchased dough here. Trader Joe's has a great one!
Enjoy and Go Big Red!
Sausage and Pepper Calzones
From Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy
1 lb. sweet Italian chicken sausage, removed from casings
1 lb. spicy Italian chicken sausage, removed from casings
1-1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
6 bell peppers, any color, cut into strips
2 large sweet onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
2 pkg. or recipes of pizza dough
1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella, sliced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place pizza stone in the oven to warm while the oven is preheating. If you do not have a pizza stone, you do not have to pre-heat it.
Place casing-free sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring to crumble until the sausage is cooked through. Drain any fat and set sausage aside.
Heat olive oil in the skillet (if dry) over medium-high heat. Add the peppers and onions and saute for about 10-12 minutes. Add the garlic and Italian seasoning and saute for about 3 minutes more. Adjust the heat if needed to avoid burning. Add the sausage to the skillet with the vegetables. Pour in the chicken stock and cover. Cook for about 10 minutes more, until peppers and onions are very soft. Take the lid off and simmer a few more minutes to reduce the liquid in the pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Unroll pizza dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut out two 5-6-inch circles of dough. Gather the scraps together and roll out the dough to make 1-2 more circles. If using a calzone press, place one dough circle on the open press. Place a generous scoop of sausage mixture in the center. Make sure to drain as much liquid out of the sausage mixture as you can, so the calzones will not be soggy. Top with mozzarella and lightly brush the outside edges with olive oil. Flip one side over the other and press to seal with the calzone press or with your fingers. Press the edge down with the tines of a fork to ensure the seal. Lightly brush the tops of the calzones with more olive oil and sprinkle a little Kosher salt on top. Place the calzones on the pizza stone or pan and bake for about 20-22 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and let cool for 3-5 minutes.
Yield: 6-8 large calzones