Yes, you can… roll your sandwich in a pizza
Sometimes trying to cook for my own children is reminiscent of the opening scene of “Eat Drink Man Woman,” a 1994 Taiwanese film in which a widower lives with his three full-grown daughters.
The family ritual calls for an elaborate dinner every Sunday evening, with the father (a highly trained chef) spending countless hours in the kitchen beforehand.
When dinner is served, a much more elaborate spread than I have ever given my family short of our Thanksgiving annual assault, the three daughters merely wince “politely” and critique the meal, sharing their feelings freely on what could have been done to better the meal.
Now, my kids may not be as critical of my work as the three heroines, but I do laugh every time that I see the movie, as it reminds me that children are fickle beasts, and some things shall forever remain a mystery.
It is a common trick of ours to tell the kids that Mom made the chicken teriyaki when, in fact, I was the artisan in charge of the task; then the kids will think it is fantastic. But when they see me in the act of making it, something to the effect of, “Aww, can’t Mom cook the chicken teriyaki?” is usually heard unabashedly announced in the background, with seemingly little effort employed to hide their disappointment.
But that’s enough of that for the moment, because I fell upon something that not only satiated the family's hunger issue but was lauded with rave reviews. It should come as no surprise or mystery to those of you who have been on this ride for the last eight years that sometimes I fall shy of ideas.
On any given Sunday, I am auctioning off ideas and taking hints and pointers from people. Sometimes it sticks and sometimes it doesn’t. I can’t explain the process, just as my wife can’t explain me, and she’s a therapist.
At the mention of Chicken Cheesesteak Calzones, I immediately considered the possibilities, since a good chicken cheesesteak (the Reel Inn still has the best in town) can outgun any other sandwich on the menu.
I love a plateful of onions, peppers and mushrooms ready to pile on top of the chicken, all just waiting for the Provolone cheese. I don’t want to hear all of the nonsense about American cheese being better, because it is not.
When I visit Philadelphia, a city that I find rather amazing, I always go to Geno’s Subs for its famous and eponymous specialty. As a good lemming, I regularly order it in my best South Philly accent, which makes it come out something like a forced and accentuated, “Cheesesteak, wit wiz.”
In the case of a good Philly cheesesteak, I won’t mess with it. But south of Wilmington, I’d rather take the Provolone, especially in this case as we’re going to pair it with pizza sauce and stuff it in a calzone.
As the night progresses, the house fills with the wafting warmth of rising and baking bread, wine reduced over sautéed vegetables and the piquant aroma of the tomato sauce used not only in the calzone, but also as a dipping sauce.
The children are placated. They have soundly congratulated me on a successful meal. And I for one am glad to have won this battle. It may not make a dent in the war effort, but I won this battle and I can add this to our repertoire of rotating menus.
And now all I have to figure out is what to make for dinner tomorrow night.
Whatever it is, I will make sure that the kids see me. That always makes it more interesting.
Chicken Cheesesteak Calzone
makes 4 calzones
4-5 oz. raw pizza or bread dough balls
16 oz. shaved chicken breast
4 oz. sliced Provolone cheese
8 oz. Mozzarella cheese
4 oz. marinara or pizza sauce, plus more to serve on the side
2 cup each: red pepper julienne, white onion julienne and Crimini mushrooms
3 fresh garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup Chianti
olive oil, as needed
flour for dusting, as needed
Step 1: Have the dough balls ready to go, keeping them covered if they are in the proof stage or if you have a lot to do. You don’t want them to get a skin
Step 2: In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil and cook the garlic until it is golden. Do not let it burn or it will be bitter and unusable
Step 3: Add the shaved chicken breast and cook halfway
Step 4: Add the onions, peppers and mushrooms and sauté until the water has released and the vegetables are half-cooked
Step 5: Add the wine and cook until there is minimal liquid. Set aside
Step 6: To make the calzone, roll out a dough ball until it is approximately 8 inches in diameter. Fill on one half of the calzone, starting with the cheese, then sauce and finally the chicken filling
Step 7: Fold the dough over and pinch the calzone closed
Step 8: Bake in a 450-degree oven until golden brown all the way around. In my oven, that meant 13 minutes. All ovens are different so keep your eye on it
Step 9: Remove and let sit for 5 minutes and serve with marinara or pizza sauce on the side