Tonight, we tried something we’d always wanted to attempt on the backyard grill: Calzones!
Grilled pizzas are, of course, a summertime mainstay for us here at Chez Recessionista. Generally, we go for the personal-pie size since it’s easier to handle on the grill. And no matter the size, the heat of the coals crisps the dough up like nothing else, giving us a makeshift wood-fired oven right in the back yard!
I’ve always wanted to give other pizza-like concoctions a try over the charcoal, and tonight, I decided to take the plunge. So I whipped up a batch of my usual pizza dough and got straight to work.
First, I heated up the grill as per usual (which is to say, as hot as it’ll go – we only know one temperature here in the Recessionista Back Yard), and prepared my calzones as the fire died down. I decided to make two chunky calzones rather than one uber one or several smaller ones, reasoning that the size of these would give me some wiggle room (i.e. room for error). This resulted in some touch-and-go plate-to-grill-to-plate transitions later, but largely worked out OK.
At any rate, I flattened the dough out as thinly as I could manage and then painted a strip of pizza sauce on the lower portion of the crust. Then I added in several hearty dollops of a ricotta mixture I’d whipped up on a whim – a medium-sized container of ricotta cheese, about a cup of frozen kale I’d preserved from this spring, and a can of sliced mushrooms, mixed together with salt and pepper.
Now, this is the first point in the process when things got dicey. On the first calzone, I made a rookie mistake and put the sauce and cheese too close to the edge, which meant I had a hard time getting a good seal. So I gingerly pushed everything up the dough a bit (leaving a wake of sauce, but who cares) and then pulled the top of the dough over the bottom and crimped the whole thing shut with a fork.
On the second calzone, I learned a thing or two from the first try and compiled it largely without incident.
Once the coals were charred and the grate was piping-hot, it was time to transfer the calzones over to the grill. This required me to remove my glasses and make two failed attempts and picking the calzones up off the pizza pan, then request LeeLee’s help and then think better of it (because if I managed to drop one as he stood there holding the pan, he’d never hear the end of it – that’s a burden best carried out by myself!), then pull a wooden chair over, place the pizza pan on it as a steadying table, and then take said pan back off the chair, whisk the spatula under the calzone, and before I had time to shout “Faccia Bella!” transfer each calzone to the grill without incident.
The cooking process doesn’t take but a few minutes – 10 minutes, tops, on the first side, and then about 5-7 minutes on the second side. And I’ll have you know that the flipping motion wasn’t difficult at all to do once the dough had firmed up with the heat! There was one last panic when taking the calzones off the grill at the end, but this time LeeLee stood resolutely by holding the pizza pan and all went according to plan.
Then, it was time to eat.
Ooh, whee! Why haven’t we been doing this for ages? These calzones were some of the best I’ve ever made at home, and that’s in large part due to the cooking method. They never crisp up enough in the oven, no matter what I do, but on the grill they were perfectly brown and crispy on the outside while still being soft and bubbly and piping-hot on the inside. Success!
The calzones were so large that we only split one and ate it, safe in the knowledge that we needn’t fight over the other one tomorrow for lunch; we’ll just split it again and call it a day. I can hardly wait!