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RBR Tailgating: Italian Cold Cut Stromboli

Hot at home as a main or cold stadium side as an app, this scratches all manner of itches.

I have to admit that I’m too easily drawn into online faux debates about whether or not a hot dog or a taco or even a gyro is a sandwich. None of them are, but that’s beside the point. When I decided to make a Stromboli for this week’s Tailgate I was unavoidably confronted with the question of how a Stromboli differs from a calzone.

The short answer is that they don’t, internet huffing aside. They are the exact same thing.

I read quit a few opinionated blogs on the subject. Granted, I read fewer blogs about this week’s subject dish than I usually do because I was sidetracked trying to confirm that Arkansas has a linebacker whose legal name is actually Bumper Pool.

He’s real!

Bumper James Morris Pool. Apparently dad was a fan of the eventually eponymous game and bequeathed his son a legacy of sorts. The James Morris bit was a victory of sort for his mother who didn’t think that Bumper on a job application, especially followed by Pool, was a recipe for future success. Good for her. The cat’s out of the bag now, but good for her.

Back to the supposed Stromboli/Calzone gulf, I learned that a calzone is usually stuffed with ricotta, but not always. A Stromboli is usually not stuffed with ricotta, unless it is. Calzones usually have a dipping sauce unless the chef or cook decides to put sauce in the inside. Even when filled with sauce a dipping sauce is not out of the question. Strombolis rarely have a dipping sauce as the sauce is included in the stuffing, unless the chef/cook decides otherwise. Either way, a dipping sauce is not out of the question. Calzones are typically filled with chunks of meats and vegetables but cold cuts are not unusual. Strambolis, on the other hand, are usually filled with cold cuts, although chunks of meats and vegetables are not unusual.

There was a particular signifier that was apparently distilled from a Bon Appetit magazine article. Several bloggers mentioned it though I was unsuccessful in finding the original source. Per them claiming to paraphrase Bon Appetit, it all comes down to form. Calzones are like tacos and strombolis are like burritos. The contention is that if you fold dough over the stuffing into a half moon and crimp or fold the edges to seal it’s a calzone and if you roll everything up into a log it’s a completely different creature called a stromboli. This is nonsense.

If I were to ignore the crimped or not edges, acknowledge that the presence of ricotta, the prevalence of cold cuts vs. chunks of meats and vegetables, the presence or lack thereof, of sauce, and take a core sample of a “calzone” and a “stromboli” there would be no way to tell the difference. Just cut a piece from the middle of each and put them side by side on a plate. They are the same thing. And a hot dog is not a sandwich.

The beauty of this recipe, monikered as you wish, is that it works as well at home as at a tailgate. If you have people over to your house, it’s great hot. If you are grilling out stadium side, it’s great cooked the night before and chilled.

Italian Cold Cut Stromboli

- dough

o 1 packet dry active yeast (1/4 oz.)

o 1 tsp. sugar

o 1 cup warm water (~110˚F)

o 1 tbsp. coarse kosher salt

o extra virgin olive oil

o 3 cups 00 or all purpose flour

- 4 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced

- mixed cold cuts - I used pepperoni, capocollo, and dry salami, about ¾ of a lb. combined.

- 2-3 oz. grated Parmesan

- extra virgin olive oil

My dough recipe is pretty basic. But the packet of yeast in a mixing bowl, feed it with the sugar and slowly pour in warm water. Between five to ten minutes you should have a nice yeasty bloom. If you aren’t familiar, it looks like this.

Add the salt and olive oil along with two cups of the flour and mix with a dough hook at medium low speed, slowly adding the final cup of flour until you get a ball. Have some extra flour and water on hand if needed to compensate for too sticky or too dry dough.

You can obviously do this with a spoon or your hands if you don’t have a mixer. Just be prepared to put some time into it. The other option is to buy ready made pizza dough from your local grocery store. Some of them are quite good.

Once the dough is balled up, lightly flour it and in a deep mixing bowl, coat with olive oil. Cover with a kitchen towel and set to rest in a - every recipe says warm spot, but all you need to do is keep it around room temperature - not cold place for 40 minutes to an hour.

Press the risen dough down and roll lightly in flour. It’s ready to use now, but I prefer to chill it in the fridge for at least an hour. To me it is easier to work with when cold. It holds its shape better. Dough also has a tendency to get mushy as it comes in contact with other ingredients. I don’t like to combine hot sauce and dough because the dough gets mushy and never crisps quite as much as I’d like. Cold dough and cold sauce don’t suffer from that tendency.

If you are using store bought dough I can’t help you with measurements other than to say eyeball what you think would be necessary for a 12” thin crust pizza. I have no idea how they portion out their product. If you are using my recipe, take one third of the batch and roll it thinly on a floured surface.

Add a layer of meat, some mozzarella, a layer of a different meat, some mozzarella, and once more. I’m not adding sauce because I might refrigerate it after cooking to serve the next day. Sauce inside might make my bread mushy.

Fold it over so you have I nice little log.

Put on a pizza stone in an oven that was preheated to 500˚F - let the stone sit at temp for fifteen or so minutes - and cook for ten minutes or so until firm. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan and put back in the oven for a minute or so until golden brown.

Let it rest for five or so minutes if you’re eating it hot. Slice and serve with hot marinara. If you’re having it cold, let it cool, wrap it up, store it in the fridge and in the morning serve slices with cold marinara dipping sauce.

A note on the marinara: It’s easy to make a simple sauce with a can of peeled tomatoes torn by hand, some dried basil and oregano, chopped garlic, a bit of red pepper flakes, a splash of white wine, and some salt. But.

This takes a leap of faith, but I’ve been writing these things since 2014, so either you trust e or you don’t. Either way you have the measure of my cooking. Try a can of peeled tomatoes, again torn. Add some cumin, some crushed fennel seed, garlic, red pepper flakes, and orange zest. It sounds weird, but there’s a Eureka moment awaiting.

I’m looking to this game with… I have no idea. We lost the best player in college football. We seemed to have found a punter. I’m going to be beside myself if Mac shows me something. Is this not knowing how other fan bases feel before a game. It’s weird.

My in-laws collect Native American art from the Pacific North West. This cold slice of stromboli looks like a 1st Nations stylized bird face. It’s kind of freaky.

Enjoy, no injuries, and Roll Tide.