Million Dollar Calzones

Today is the deadline for entries to the Annual Pillsbury Bake-off. Today is also the day I will not be winning one million dollars. Turns out Pillsbury considers me a “food professional” and therefore disqualified me. Guess what… if you have a food blog then you’ll be disqualified also. Kind of a lame rule if you ask me. But whatever, now I can share the recipe I was going to submit.

These guys would have totally clinched the competition for me: Apricot and Chicken Calzones

The sort of annoying thing about the Pillsbury Bake-off is that you have to use specific ingredients from specific lists. Obviously these ingredients are from sponsored companies and it’s how they are able to give out the crazy amount of money that they give out just for baking a cream puff or something. I was originally going to use an apricot jam and a pre-made frozen dough from the approved companies to make my calzones.

Chicken Apricot Calzones

Just a moment please...

Yield
4-8 calzones
Prep Time
Total Time

Slightly sweet and savory calzones filled with chicken, apricot, and mascarpone cheese!

Ingredients

1 pound chicken, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces apricot jam
1 lime, juice only
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1 pound mozzarella cheese, grated
1 egg + 1 tablespoon water
Pizza dough or puff pastry
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Directions

For filling:
1) Cube chicken and add it to a large skillet with oil over medium high heat. Cook until chicken it cooked through, about 10 minutes.

2) Stir in apricot jam, lime juice, nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper.

3) Roll out pizza dough or puff pastry (I prefer pizza dough) into about 8 inch rounds. Add filling and grated cheese to half of the calzone dough and don’t be afraid to pile it high.

4) Brush the edges of the calzones with egg wash and fold them over to seal them well. Cut a few slits in the top of the calzones so steam can escape.

5) Cook these guys on a baking sheet in a 400 degree F. oven for 25-30 minutes. Let these cool for a few minutes when they come out.

Since they disqualified me, I decided to use a different brand of apricot jam. TAKE THAT PILLSBURY!

These are the ingredients I added to my chicken filling.

Mascarpone was a bad choice.

Mascarpone was a bad choice.

For the chicken filling, cube about a pound of chicken and cook it in two tablespoons of oil. When it is cooked, add about 8 ounces of apricot jam, the juice of one lime, and 1/4 Teaspoon grated nutmeg. Stir all that together and add a pinch of salt and pepper. The apricot is pretty mild actually and the lime cuts the sweetness. It turned out to be a really nice filling.

Simmer it down.

Simmer it down.

I actually made two versions of this recipe. For version one, I used mascarpone cheese and store bought puff pastry. These turned out okay, but mascarpone wasn’t a good cheese choice and the puff pastry was too light. If I were making these again with puff pastry, I would make them smaller and use a different cheese. If they were bite-sized, they would be tasty little appetizers. Maybe not million dollar appetizers, but tasty!

Puff pastries are tasty.

Puff pastries are tasty.

This was the result of the puff pastry experiment.

Good. Maybe not million dollars good.

Good. Maybe not million dollars good.

But this wasn’t quite what I was looking for. I wanted a more traditional calzone. Something substantial. I also figured that since I was disqualified, I might as well make my own dough, because let’s face it – frozen dough is not worth a million dollars.

I made a standard pizza dough that I would use for forming the calzones. Check out my mashed potato pizza or mini-pizza party post to see the recipe I use for pizza dough. The standard recipe I use in those posts make 2 large pizzas, 4 large calzones, or 6-8 smaller calzones.

Homemade pizza dough shouldn't be intimidating.

Homemade pizza dough shouldn’t be intimidating.

I made the same filing for these as I made for the puff pastry version, but I used mozzarella cheese. The mascarpone turned really soupy which I should have expected. Mozzarella is an awesome melty cheese. It worked great with these.

Roll the dough out into a thin circle on a flour-dusted surface. I did not go light on the filling with these. It’s a million dollars people. Don’t skimp on the chicken!

Don't go light on the filling.

Don’t go light on the filling.

Brush the edges of the circle with some egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with 1 Tablespoon of water). Fold over the dough and work out any air bubbles. Then seal the edges. I’m not the best at making the decorative edges. I just make sure that it is sealed well or the cheese will just explode out the side of the calzone. Then brush the top with more egg wash and cut a few slits in the top to let steam escape.

Ready for the oven.

Ready for the oven.

Slide these guys into a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. When the come out, they will be very hot. Let them cool for a few minutes before cutting into them.

Calzone done right.

Calzone done right.

Ok. So I probably wouldn’t have won the Bake-off, but I also don’t really consider myself a food professional. That’s okay though. These awesome calzones helped soothe the pain of rejection.

A Pizza stone and peel will really help your cause if you want to make these.

Any readers out there able to actually enter this competition??

10 comments on “Million Dollar Calzones

  1. As we share the lack of any dough sealing artistry, I recommend in the future you take the road most traveled and use the tines of a fork to seal them up – it looks better and has the beneficial side effect of making sure those puppies are cheese-explosion-proof (or at least cheese-explosion-resistant).

    They both look mighty tasty.

    The puff pastry idea was good. Maybe a double thick piece would hold up better – or homemade rolled out to an equivalent thickness?

  2. The chicken and apricot combo sounds amazing. It really got me thinking… could I make these in Sofia? I might just have to give it a go. Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. why? do you work in the field? I hope I don’t get disqualified, I’m not a chef but a food blogger, that shouldn’t matter.
    Well, these are stellar calzones. Chicken & apricot go so well together.
    Try that multigrain dough from whole foods, it is to die for.

  4. Haha, I found out about that rule a few months ago – no food bloggers allowed. It is totally lame. The calzone looks really yummy though, I will try that out.

  5. Thanks for the comments everyone. @nick. I tried the fork thing on the puff pastry version. Definitely works. I was just trying to get those nice hand made folds that you sometimes see. I guess I’m not Italian enough though.

    Food blog equals food writer equals food professional. Equals lame!

    Since I’m a food professional now I hope Pillsbury let’s me judge!

  6. These look really amazing – very gourmet….I must say that if food blog = food professional then Pillsbury really needs to get a better dictionary! What about those people who make a profession out of winning/entering contests like theirs? That’s a food professional too, right? That’s one lame-o rule Pillsbury!

  7. Made these tonight (second macheesmo recipe this week). Out of the four people sitting at the table only one liked this – me. Not a fan of stone fruits so I didn’t think I would like the apricot, but the lime did cut some of the sweetness. It was still a little sweet for me. But the recipe worked, it was a quick meal, and I appreciated the calzone NOT being of the pizza variety.

    1. Ha! Thanks for the report back Amy. This is a deep dive from the archives! I hope the other recipe fared better with the voters. :)

      1. I regularly make macheesmo recipes, I made the pineapple cream cheese spread (with a bit of coconut) earlier in the week. It was delish. Next week (spring break for my kids) I’ve committed to making a dip for each meal, with sides of veggies of course. Your jalapeño dip is on for Monday. Made it before. Loved it before.

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