Last night, I was racking my brain, trying to come up with something creative for dinner. I wanted something that wouldn’t be too labor-intensive, would taste delicious, and would leave me with leftovers for my husband’s lunches – which is pretty much my criteria for ANYTHING I make, so… there’s that. I considered stuffing some acorn squash with brown rice and some other stuff, but that sounded too HEALTHY at that moment in time (though I’ll likely make it later in the week, so you’ll be seeing it here before long). I considered a big salad, but I just wasn’t in the mood… and suddenly it struck me that I could make calzones! I always have the ingredients for pizza dough on hand… I always have cheese (usually at least 6 or 7 varieties – and you might think that that fact would embarrass me, but I assure you, it does not. I love me some cheese)… and, really, you can stuff whatever you want into a calzone, so that part was easy! Now, I have never made calzones before, but I make pizza all the time, so I figured it couldn’t be THAT hard. And thus, barbecue chicken calzones were born!
Barbecue Chicken Calzones
pizza dough recipe and instructions here
makes 4 calzones
one batch pizza dough (I used 1.5 recipes of dough for this – if you just use one standard batch of dough, you can still get 4 calzones, they’ll just be smaller)
4 slices muenster cheese
8 oz cooked chicken breast, diced
salt, pepper, garlic powder
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
caramelized onions (from one large yellow onion)
1.) Start by making your pizza dough. While your dough is rising, work on the rest of your ingredients.
2.) Season your chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and cook them however you prefer (you can cook them in a skillet with a bit of olive oil, bake them, whatever you like). Once they are cooked and cooled, dice them into about 1/2″ pieces.
3.) Caramelize your onions. To do so, slice your onion into half moons, about 1/2″ thick. Heat a skillet over medium heat, and add one tablespoon butter and one tablespoon olive oil to the pan. Add the onions, and stir frequently as they start to brown around the edges. Once all the onions have started to brown, lower the heat to medium-low, and continue stirring them frequently. They will continue to brown all over – continue cooking them until the onions have all become uniformly brown, keeping a close eye on them so they don’t burn.
4.) After your pizza dough has done its initial rise, you will reach the step where you press the air out of it. After you’ve done so, cut your ball of dough into four equal pieces, and shape each piece into a ball. Allow the four dough balls to complete their second rise as usual.
5.) Preheat your oven to 375°. When the dough is ready, use a rolling pin to roll each dough ball into a 6″ circle (don’t worry if it’s not exactly 6″, or if it’s not a perfect circle… just do your best to roll it into a uniformly thick, circle-ish shape).
6.) On one half of each piece of dough, place a slice of cheese, then about 2 oz of chicken – top the chicken with about 2 tablespoons of barbecue sauce, and then top that with about 1/4 of your caramelized onions. Fold the empty half of your dough over the toppings, and seal the edges of the dough by pinching around all the edges with your fingers (do your best to make sure it’s well-sealed, so all your delicious insides don’t leak out).
7.) Place your calzones onto a baking sheet that’s been lightly misted with olive oil. Mist the tops of your calzones with some olive oil to help them brown – you can also top them with a bit of freshly grated parmesan, if that sort of thing is up your alley (it’s totally up my alley – see above, re: 7 kinds of cheese in my fridge).
8.) Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the calzones have browned nicely. (Mine could have stood a touch more time in the oven to brown up some more… but I was hungry, and lacking patience.)
Obviously, you could change these up in a hundred ways. You can really fill them with whatever the heck you want – pepperoni, sausage, roasted veggies, just some cheese and tomato sauce, etc. You could even make a dessert version by filling them with something fun like nutella and banana slices, and sprinkling some coarse sugar on top before you bake them! They’d also be great as appetizers – just make them smaller. Additionally, you could make these a day ahead for a crowd – you can either prep the dough to the stage before the second rise (wrap the dough balls tightly in plastic wrap, refrigerate, and then give them about an hour to come to room temp before rolling and filling), or you could roll them and stuff them, too (wrap the baking sheet tightly with plastic wrap, refrigerate, allow them to come to room temp before baking).
I served these with a big green salad, and that’s it. They were big enough that my husband (who is a… HEARTY eater, if you know what I mean) only ate ONE, and he felt totally satisfied and full. (Side note: if you make this recipe using a single batch of pizza dough, instead of 1.5 times the recipe, I’d expect that you’d need 1.5 to two per person.) My husband, halfway through his dinner, turned to me and said “I think you should make these again. A lot. With different stuff inside sometimes. Please.” I am pretty sure that meant he really liked them.
I aim to please,