Olive e Finocchio Calzone (Olive & Fennel Calzone)

April 19, 2012

Calzone is comely, yet divinely rustic. A turnover of pizza dough…stuffed with differing fillings and supple cheeses, folded over and shaped like a half moon before being baked or fried. Squisito!

Not surprisingly, the word is of Italian ancestry — from calzone (the singular for calzoni, “pants”), which is augmentative of calza (“stocking”), from the Medieval Latin word calcea taken from the Latin for “shoe” calceus. The etymology apparently alludes to the folded shape of the dish. The first known use of the word calzone in culinary circles was post WW II (circa 1947). Post modernist fare? Did kitchens, suspicious and tiring of authoritative definitions and singular narratives, create calzones as an antithetical reaction to traditional flat pizza reality?

By the bye, in Italian the word calzone has three syllables, [kalˈtsoːne]. Excuse the inconsolable pander, but please peruse other calzone (or pizza) entries here.

OLIVE & FENNEL CALZONE

Extra virgin olive oil to coat bowl

1 C warm water (105°F to 115°F)
1 envelope active dry yeast packet
1 T honey

3+ C all purpose flour
1 t sea salt
3 T extra virgin olive oil

Pour warm water into small bowl; stir in yeast and honey until it dissolves. Let stand until yeast activates and forms foam or bubbles on the surface, about 5 minutes.

Rub large bowl lightly with olive oil. Mix flour and salt in stand up, heavy duty mixer equipped with flat paddle. Add yeast mixture, flour, salt and olive oil; mix on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute. Refit mixer with dough hook and process at medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, or transfer to lightly floured surface and knead dough by hand until smooth (or some of both). Kneading does help develop strength and elasticity in the dough. During this step, add more flour by tablespoonfuls if dough is too sticky. Work dough with hands into a smooth ball.

Transfer to large oiled bowl, turning dough until fully coated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then a dishtowel and let dough rise in warm draft free area until doubled in volume, about 45 minutes for quick rising yeast and 1 1/2 hours for regular yeast. Punch down dough and work with hands into a smooth ball. Cut and divide into two rounded equal balls.

Preheat oven to 500 F (with pizza stone in oven on lowest rung for no less that 45 minutes before cooking)

3 T extra virgin olive oil
3 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

1 large fennel bulb, cleaned, stemmed, cored and thinly sliced
1 medium onion, peeled, halved vertically and thinly sliced
1 t fennel seed, toasted
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 ozs mozzarella, grated
3 T fresh oregano leaves, peeled off stem minced
3 sprigs thyme leaves, peeled off stem, chopped

3 T choice imported black olives, pitted and thinly sliced
4-6 ozs tallegio, thinly sliced

Extra virgin olive oil

Briefly toast the fennel seeds in a dry pan.

Heat olive oil and garlic in a heavy, large skillet over medium high heat. Remove and discard garlic. Add sliced fennel bulb, sliced onion and fennel seed. Season with salt and pepper, then cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender and caramelized, about 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, place dough on well floured board or large work surface and roll out, starting in center and working outward toward edges but not rolling over them. Roll the dough to roughly 12″ in diameter, but always feel free to create any shape to your liking or whim — so long as it can fold in half for a calzone. Transfer to a pizza paddle which is either covered in cornmeal or heavily floured so it can slide off easily into the oven.

Combine mozzarella, oregano and thyme. Arrange the filling on one half of the dough, leaving a 1″ margin on the edge. Arrange fennel and onion mixture, then olives and finally tallegio slices over the top of the filling. Brush the edges of the dough with water, and fold the dough over to seal, pinching together with fingers.

Bake the calzone, until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Calzones tend to take a few more minutes to cook than open pizza. Brush with olive oil immediately after removing from oven. Let rest 5-10 minutes before slicing.

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