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Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

Calzone have eyes for you

 

Sometimes, it’s not easy being a greedy-gut although I’m slowly learning to cope with my affliction.

Picture the scene: You’re out for a bite of dinner with friends or family (or both) and everyone mentally salivates over the menu before placing their order.

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You and your fellow diners indulge in chit-chat as the anticipation builds and perhaps you’re even enjoying an aperitif as an enhancer.

Then, just as you’re tottering along the Cliffs of Famishment, the food finally arrives and – joy! – starvation is averted.

If you’re lucky the meal becomes everything you hoped it would be and there follows a chit-chat hiatus as everyone savours the moment.

The meal continues and the confab returns and if you’re still lucky, you revel in the experience, as you finish up your dish, with perhaps a little napkin dap at the corners of your mouth to remind yourself you’re not a complete savage.

So far so good, yeah? Well, if yours truly was party to that scene, the end of my meal doesn’t spell the end of the eating – oh no.

Instead of being happy enough with my own dinner (God forbid), if there’s any leftovers, I’ll deal with those as well.

I never leave a soldier behind!

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No matter how much leftovers there are, whether it’s extra chips that no-one could fit in, a few stray vegetables at the side of a plate or the end of a burger that a little human couldn’t eat – whatever is left – I will continue to pick at until it’s taken away.

In hindsight, it’s only surprising I haven’t been rolled out the restaurant door on occasions.

And so it is with leftovers at home.

Picture another scene: It’s pasta night and we’re having penne, pesto, peas and bacon.

Everyone is assigned their portion and the dining begins.

But as with the restaurant setting, if there’s anything left behind, or a plate isn’t cleared, then all is not right with the world and I am compelled to act.

This usually results in my finishing everyone else’s leftovers and, although I know the consequences, I’m then busted for the rest of the night.

However, as I say, I am slowly learning to live with my affliction and it turns out there are fringe benefits to self-restraint at the dinner table – to wit – leftovers are excellent for the lendemain’s lunchables (or dinners).

Take the pictures you can see herein… I have discovered that a calzone is the perfect way to use up leftovers, whether it’s the remnants of a Sunday lunch or even a Tuesday night’s spaghetti bolognaise.

Or, if you’ve cooked ham in the fridge, or chicken, or the last burger from the barbecue no-one ate; or broccoli or beans or stew or whatever.

Add tomato sauce and cheese to the equation, dump everything into folded pizza dough and bake in the oven until steaming and brilliant.

Rather than being a mere win/win, in my world this is a win/win/win.

I don’t over eat, I use up leftovers (which would otherwise have been destined for the bin or the dog), and there’s another amazing meal to savour with only the most minimal effort.

Last week there were sausages left over from a Saturday hot-dog lunch and you betcha, that evening they went into a calzone with a simple tomato sauce, heaps of grated cheddar and because I had some already chopped, spring onions. It was a joy.

A fortnight before it was leftover chicken and bacon from the previous day’s barbecue, sliced mozzarella, basil leaves and a little tomato puree. Joy!

But my favourite one of late was the chicken, bacon, pesto, pineapple, cheddar and mozzarella I devoured recently alongside a glass of cold red wine.

Admittedly, only the chicken and bacon were leftovers from another barbecue, but oh, Lord-won’t-you-buy-me-a-Mercedes-Benz, it was fantastic.

You may also have noticed the absence of a complete recipe by now and yes, that is intentional.

As I say, calzone are great for leftovers so what you put into them is up to you.

But honestly, you can’t go wrong. Think of your favourite leftover sandwich or even your best pizza and just calzone-ify the combination.

In terms of the dough, you can use pre-made pizza dough, which is grand or you can make your own, which will be even better.

This is the simple dough I use and I’ve yet to be disappointed…

Add 300g of self-raising flour to a big bowl and add half a teaspoon of fine sea salt.

Mix through, and then add to that 180ml of milk and two tablespoons of olive oil and mix everything together. Knead briefly on a floured surface until relatively smooth and that’s it. Simples.

Cover with a tea towel until you assemble the rest of your gear (this will also allow the dough to rise) and then divide the dough into six or eight pieces with a kitchen knife. Take one piece of dough and roll out thin, again on a floured surface, into a circle.

To make a calzone…

Pre-heat the oven to 210C and while that’s happening, take your circle of dough, and pile your choice of filling along one side (I heartily recommend the chicken, bacon, pesto, pineapple and cheddar and mozzarella combo), leaving an edge of about 1 cm and then fold the empty side over the filled side and crimp so that it looks like a big Cornish pasty.

Prick the top with a knife to let the steam out, the brush the calzone with beaten egg (or don’t – I’ve tried both ways and they’re both great) and then retire to the oven until it’s golden and the smell coming out of your oven is sending your head away (about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the dough).

Remove to a plate or chopping board, cut in half and devour without delay.

Remember, greedy-guts, take it easy on the left-overs.

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