Funny thing, cooking is. You can create a whole bunch of things. For instance, you’re trying a new recipe, one that you chanced upon while reading. It was only described in vague detail, yet it was enough to catch your eye. So, looking for a good bite to eat, you, being the awesome chef that you are, go to the grocer and pick up some things: dough, a few sauces, a pepperoni stick (because that presliced, prepackaged junk is too thin for your liking), and good old mozzarella cheese. Seems like you could be making a pizza, maybe a calzone or stromboli. From the context, it sounds most like a calzone; instead of pepperoni, sausage, ham, or whatever else you stuff your calzones with, this one is stuffed with shells of which are stuffed with a variety of sauces. You, yet again being the clever chef that you are, decide to add your own twist with the pepperoni and are forced to improvise when you have only medium shells, versus the large ones. Life is going great. The pasta is boiling away on the stove top, while it cooks, you pound out the premade, yet fresh, dough into a flat, even square of sorts. After that’s done (and on a plate chilling in the refrigerator), you set to chopping the pepperoni into discs, careful not to make them too thick. Here’s when things go to hell. The pasta finishes cooking, you strain it, set it in a bowl. You set the dough back on the cleaned even surface of the counter. Not exactly sure how to make this, as it isn’t a clear recipe you’re going by, you start by putting shells into the center of the flattened dough and then putting an entire, twelve ounce jar of spaghetti sauce over said noodles. After that, you add the pepperoni. By this time, you’re thinking to yourself, hot damn this looks appetizing, yet are also wondering how the hell am I going to fold this?
Simple answer: You don’t.
Remember as a kid when your mom used to bake cookies or something and she’d fold em up in a napkin so that all the edges overlapped and it was a cute square of sorts? Well, if not, bear with me while I explain what I tried to do, well, what You tried to do, since we’re still going with that.
You, after having looked at this mess of dough, pasta, pepperoni, and sauce, almost say screw it. You almost make it into a pizza (which would have been the brightest idea that you had all day), but no. you don’t. Without thinking, as you’re struck by this genius idea, you take a corner, bring it up (so that the contents are away from that corner), grab the corner that is diagonal-most to the aforementioned corner, and in a fit of madness attempt to pinch them together. Really, what were you thinking? The result of your idea isn’t great. Nothing too major happens, but things get piled back to the middle of the bundle. As you go to pinch side three up with the rest, you notice that the juices from the tomato sauce you used are gushing off of it. Well, not gushing, but they’re there, all sauce like, and are getting absorbed by the dough. But it’s no matter, you think. No, none at all. You pinch the side with the other two and then go to bring side four up. At this point, you can’t. There’s a saucy, pasta-y, pepperoni-y mixture that’s coming from the unfolded corner. You attempt to fix this and it works… but only for a second! A tear in the dough (which was softened from the sauce) forms and sauce starts spurting from it. At this point, you’re not so concerned with it as getting it in the oven. It’s when you try to move it, that bad things (expletive worthy things) happen. Suddenly, the dough is very stuck to the counter. You try to use a spatula to lift it just enough to slide onto the baking pan when, oh no, the dough on the edge facing away from you splits. It’s at this point, you have a pan balancing against your hips, off the counter, your hands full with a bit of dough between two fingers of one hand, and a spoon in the other, that the front seam goes. Good thing you know French so well, because it isn’t exactly ladylike to be yelling “bloody hell” amongst far more colourful expletives in the middle of your Mate’s kitchen. You’re still yelling (trying to get help), but at least you’re not offending people with your language. Well, nobody seems to be in a helping mood; to make matters worse: when you finally do move the blob (as that’s what it looks like: one big doughy thing) to the baking tray, it pops open. You’re about to say screw it, but don’t. Instead you leave it, in it’s half folded state of madness, and go to work on the next ball of dough that you purchased. You start by cleaning the counter top, as it got gooey, and start to flatten the dough. Only this time you wise up. Instead of rushing through the dough, you flatten it carefully, leaving it at a good thickness so it won’t be bursting open and making a mess every where. You also decide that it’s best not to use so many noodles… or a whole jar of sauce for that matter. So, this time, before folding the dough upon itself, you remember to add the cheese, but forget the pepperoni and fold it. One corner… two corners… three corners… four corners… perfect. After that, you roll the dough sections together between your fingers, trying to erase the creases, making it look like it was only ever a lump of dough. Voila, even that worked out good. Taking the same spatula from before, you transfer the ball of goodness onto the unused section of the pan and then transfer the pan to the massively preheated (to 375 degrees) oven.
A half hour goes by, you occasionally check to see how things are doing (more like checking to see if anything from the first pazza didn’t ooze into the bottom of the oven), everything looks fine. The dough is baking, the sauce is bubbling, the cheese has melted and is gaining that golden hue, everything looks great. When you take the pan out of the oven, you find that the left and back sides of the pan are heaviest, but everything looks cooked. You let the pan sit on the stovetop for 10 minutes before you cut into it, and the whole while you’re waiting, the house smells… divine. Like a cross between pizza and pasta (thus pazza). When you do cut the pazza, you start with the first one, the one that exploded before you even got it in the oven. The dough cuts, a slight crunching sound made under the edge of the serrated blade. This pazza may not look all that delicious but it certainly smells it. You put the first cut piece (that resembles a hunk of fresh cut italian bread… with pasta, pepperoni and cheese in the middle) on a plate. You do the same, this time, cutting from another side of the pazza, and place it on another plate. The last piece you cut is from the second, more square, pazza. You slice a good hunk off, and put it on a plate and call the boys into the room. You hand them their respective plates, advise them to eat it with a fork and knife, and mention there’s extra sauce in the fridge, before grabbing your own plate, fork and knife and go to sit on the couch.
You eye the piece carefully, while you sit down, it doesn’t exactly look unappetizing, nor does it look appetizing. It’s certainly one of those foods that you need to eat with your mouth and not your eyes. Doing just that, you cut a small piece and put it in your mouth. It’s like eating dinner at your grandmother’s house on Wednesday nights. Only there, you have a big bowl of baked ziti and a bit of fresh sliced Italian bread. Here, it’s all in one, and damn, it’s good. It’s also extremely filling; then again, how can it not be with all of the carbs that are loaded into it? Aspects of bread… pasta… it’s enough to fill you up for that afternoon and evening.
Sure, you think, now you know why they don’t make calzones with sauce. But the mess that it made making it, certainly paid off when you ate it
The Pazza: The Recipe as I See It
As seen in the book The Supernaturalist, it’s literally a mix between pizza and pasta, hence the name “pazza”
1 hunk of dough, premade*
1 medium size pepperoni stick, sliced into 1/8” discs
2 cups of mozzarella cheese, divided
2 cups of medium shells, cooked & drained**
1.5 cups of spaghetti sauce***
**Preheat the oven to 375**
On a flat, clean surface, take and evenly flatten out the ball of dough that you bought, or made, whatever works best for you. Make sure it’s nice, even and not too thin or else it’ll start to rip when you load it full of the shells, pepperoni, sauce and cheese.
Take the shells that you just cooked and pour them over the dough, pressing them softly into the surface of the dough with a spoon.
Pour the sauce over top of the noodles, doing well to keep it away from the edges that you’ll soon be folding.
Add the pepperoni on top of the pile of noodles and sauce.
Sprinkle most of the cheese onto the mixture.
CAREFULLY (and I really can’t emphasize this enough), bring 2 diagonal-most corners up and lay on on top of the other. Do the same with the other two corners and it should look like a square with rounded corners. Start pinching the creases where the dough meets each edge of another piece of dough together, so as to smooth out the creases. When you’re done, it should look like a larger, more square version of what you started with: a hunk of dough.
Place on a baking pan (“cookie pan”) and cook for 30 minutes.
Serve warm with sauce.
*Buying premade dough saves so much time. If you have a dough recipe that you like, go ahead and make it yourself.
**2 cups of shells works as a great substitute to the large shells that the “recipe” calls for.
*** I tweaked the recipe a lot and it still needs tweaking. Anyways, I know in the anecdote I said that I used an 12oz jar, but the second time around, I wised up and used actual measurements.
I suppose that’s that.
Until next time, do stay hungry, Mates!