Living in a city hub has definite perks. On one hand, it’s incredibly handy, since everything I never need – groceries, banks, post offices – is within walking distance. On the other hand, though, there’s a plethora of delicious restaurants on every block.
Which definitely isn’t a bad thing. I live in a very multi-cultural community and there’s every sort of food you can imagine. Sushi, pho, Chinese or Indian, Malaysian or Thai, Greek, southern bistros, pizza joints, burger stands… the list goes on and on.
There’s always a new place that pops up, seemingly out of nowhere, that lures me inside with the smells that waft out onto the street. This was the case with a local pizza joint; the smells coming out of that place were heavenly – a mix of fresh dough, herby sauce, and toppings galore. I immediately grabbed a take-out menu and it’s been one of my local haunts ever since.
One of my favourite pizzas to order is one topped with pickles, bacon, and smoked cheddar. Yes, it seems like a strange flavour combination. Bacon and smoked cheddar I can get on board with. But pickles? On a pizza? How… odd.
Needless to say, the first bite of that piping hot slice was exciting. And as it turns out, bacon and smoked cheddar and pickles has to be one of my favourite pizza topping combinations EVER. No joke.
Naturally, I knew I had to recreate it.
I’m not sure why I chose to make them into calzones, because we all know that I love my pizza. But when you think about it, calzones are just pizzas that have been folded over, which essentially makes them easier to eat and transport.
Calzones are like grown-up hot pockets, and who can say no to a hot pocket? Luckily, these are a lot healthier than store-bought, plus, they taste 1000x better.
A homemade, herbed pizza dough, smooth tomato sauce, crisp and salty strips of bacon, tart and tangy slices of dill pickles, and melted, smokey cheddar. Just talking about it brings tears to my eyes.
This recipe yields about 8 calzones, but it’s real easy to eat a couple of these in one sitting! I suggest doubling the recipe and freezing some for later! Once they’ve baked, simply wrap each calzone in aluminum foil and store in an airtight bag in the freezer. When you’re ready to eat, remove from the freezer and let thaw for about an hour, or just increase the baking time to reheat from frozen.
They’re also particularly handy for work lunches! The recipe doesn’t require too much cheese, so they’re won’t ooze cheese when you bite into them. Less mess = easier to eat on the go. I actually prefer it that way, but if you’d prefer more cheese, by all means, go for it!
If you’re still skeptical about adding pickles to your pizza, just trust me. Try it out, and prepare to be wowed. Pair it with a bottle of cucumber ale (also surprisingly delicious) and you’ll be singing all the way through dinner!
|Bacon, Pickle & Smoked Cheddar Calzones|| |
- ¾ cups warm water
- 1 tsp instant yeast
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- ½ tsp Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 12 slices bacon
- ⅔ cup pizza sauce
- 1 egg, beaten
- 6 baby dill pickles, sliced
- 2½ cups smoked cheddar, grated
- Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- To make dough: Preheat oven to 200°F. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine yeast and water and let sit until frothy, about 5 minutes. Add in flour, olive oil, salt, and seasoning, and mix on low speed until a dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 8 minutes. Dough should be tacky yet elastic. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven. Turn the oven OFF and let the dough sit in the warm oven for about an hour until it has doubled in size.
- Once pizza has risen, remove from the oven.
- Cook bacon: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking trays with aluminum foil and place bacon strips on the foil. Bake for about 15 minutes until cooked and crispy. Set aside and pat away any grease with a paper towel. When cool enough to touch, crumble into chunks.
- Increase oven temperature to 450°F. Line two baking trays with parchment paper; set aside.
- Divide dough into about 8 equal pieces. On a floured surface, roll out each small ball of dough until it's about 7" in diameter. Transfer circles to prepared baking trays (you should be able to fit 4 to a tray).
- Spread pizza sauce on half of each circle of dough, leaving a small border un-sauced. Baste the egg on the other half (this will help the dough stick together). Top the circles with bacon pieces, pickle slices, and grated cheese. Season with pepper.
- Fold the circles in half so they resemble half-moons, stretching the dough if necessary to cover the filling completely. Press a fork around the edges to form a seal. Brush the tops lightly with the rest of the egg, then pierce a few holes in the tops (for a vent). Bake 12-15 minutes until pies are golden brown and crispy. Let cool slightly before serving.
When ready to use, thaw in the fridge for a few hours, or extend the cooking time to reheat from frozen.
Reheat in the microwave or a 300°F oven until heated through.