Chicken & Basil Calzoni

One of my mates works at the Hut (that’s Pizza Hut to those of you who aren’t regulars) meaning I always get the offer of free (or at least
discounted) pizzas. When the opportunity to try a calzone came around I didn’t jump at it – and that’s not because I’m some sort of pizza purist despising the capitalists’ take on Italian cuisine but rather I thought of calzoni as hot, soggy baps filled with tomato, cheese and (in my case) chicken. Then when I found out calzone meant trouser (the plural being calzoni if you really wanna be Italian), I wasn’t any further encouraged to give it go. However, to my surprise, they are quite delicious, being as versatile as pizza (by altering the filling) and even good when on the go. Please note in my recipe I’ve stipulated ‘cheese’ meaning whatever you have to hand, if it goes stringy when melted it’ll do the job!

Chicken & Basil Calzoni

Makes 4

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Ingredients

for the dough

  • 350g strong white flour
  • 1½ teaspoons (5g) fast action dried yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 220ml lukewarm water

for the sauce

  • 50g tomato puree (I use tomato purée as it’s a lot more convenient than tinned tomatoes)
  • 50ml water
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • salt and pepper

for the filling

  • 100g grated cheese
  • 250g cooked/leftover chicken approx 2 chicken breasts, sliced
  • ½ yellow pepper, sliced
  • 20 basil leaves, torn

Method

Make the dough: if making the dough by hand place the flour in a large bowl and stir in the yeast, salt and sugar. Pour in the oil and most of the water and mix with one hand or a wooden spoon to form a soft dough, adding more water if the dough is too dry or more flour if it is too wet. Leave to rest for 10 minutes, covered with cling film or a clean tea towel then knead the rested dough for about 5 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Alternatively make the dough in a free-standing mixer with a dough hook, kneading for 5 minutes without resting. Place the dough into a large oiled bowl and cover with cling film, leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size. Meanwhile make the sauce and prepare the filling.

Make the sauce: in a bowl or jug combine the tomato puree with the water then stir in the paprika, crushed garlic and seasoning. Divide each of the filling ingredients into four even portions. Once the dough has risen, knock back using oiled hands on a lightly oiled surface then divide into four even balls. Preheat the oven to 200°C (190°C fan)/400°F/gas mark 6.

Make the calzoni: roll or stretch (I use a combination of both, rolling to flatten the dough and stretching to neaten the shape) one ball into a circle 25cm in diameter. Spread a quarter of the tomato sauce (about one and a half tablespoons) over one half of the dough leaving a 1cm border, then sprinkle over one portion each of the cheese, chicken, peppers and basil. Fold the plain half of the dough over the filling and press along the edge to seal, transfer to a large baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Repeat with the remaining three dough balls.

Bake the calzoni at the top of the oven for about 20 minutes until the browned all over. Leave to cool for a few minutes before serving, either on their own or I like chips but my friend likes salad!

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