I don't know about you but I am always and forever cooking too much food (I can't stand a half empty smoker) and this presents a need to find ways to use up the leftovers.
In doing this I have found numerous ways to use leftover smoked meat in regular everyday recipes such as the smoked baby back rib calzone in this weeks newsletter.
Calzone is simply a type of pizza that is folded in half before it is cooked in order to contain the filling.
Calzone is so versatile and with the advent of ready made pizza crusts, it is virtually impossible to mess up and your family will love what you come up with no doubt.
To make it easy, it's ok to use the canned pizza dough. There is no shame in that and if you happen to make your own pizza dough, that is great too.
In this recipe, I used leftover smoked baby back rib meat, seasoned to perfection with my original rub (purchase recipe here), smoked with plenty of pecan and hickory, bones removed and then cut into small bite-sized pieces and mixed with just the right amount of my very own original rub and barbecue sauce (purchase recipe here). Baked in the oven until perfectly browned and I had a meal that I knew would excite the most picky of eaters.
I gave my 10-year old son the first bite when these came out of the oven and it was worth it all to see his eyes light up and hear him exclaim that it was the best thing he'd ever tasted.
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The idea for calzone is to use leftover smoked meat with a little cheese and whatever other toppings you like and create something wonderful. Brisket, pulled pork, ribs, chicken, turkey, ham, etc – Almost anything would work. I chose to use some smoked baby back rib meat in this particular recipe but just remember that your imagination is the only limit!
- 2 cans of Pillsbury classic pizza dough, 13.8 oz each
- 2 cups of grated mozzarella cheese
- 2 cups of smoked and deboned rib meat (or other smoked meat of your choice)
- 1/3 cup of onions, chopped
- 1/3 cup red and green sweet peppers, chopped (use red, green or yellow but a good mix looks better)
- 1 TBS of Jeff's original rub (purchase recipe here)
- 2 TBS of Jeff's barbecue sauce (purchase recipe here)
- 2 racks of baby backs (1 rack would actually be enough for 8 or more calzones)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- Jeff's original rub (purchase recipe here)
Remove baby backs from wrapping, rinse under cold water and lay them on the cutting board.
I wanted to do them 2-2-1 style and needed them to fit into my foil pans so I cut each rack in half and removed the membrane on the bone side.
I usually use mustard to help the rub to stick but I wanted them to be really tender so I simply poured lemon juice on them hoping that the high acid juice would help to make them even more tender.
Smoke the ribs at 225-240 degrees using the 2-2-1 method which is:
- 2 hours in an open pan or directly on the grate. Then..
- 2 hours wrapped in foil or in a foil covered pan with about 1/4 cup of apple juice or water in the bottom. Then..
- 1 hour unwrapped directly on the grate or in an open pan (foil removed)
Apply 225-240 degrees heat the entire time.
The smoke only need be applied during the first 2 hours.
The picture below was at hour 4 as I was removing the foil cover from the pan.
Once the ribs are done, place the ribs on a cutting board bone side up and remove the bones with your fingers.
Note: There are usually a few small slivers of bone on the ends of the rack of ribs – make sure to get those as well.
Use a sharp knife to slice the rib meat into small bite-sized pieces.
I recommend cooking the peppers and onions a little before using them to soften them. They will not have time to get soft inside the calzone.
I made an open foil bowl for the mixture and placed them in the smoker at 225°F for about an hour while I cooked the ribs and they came out perfect and just slightly smoky.
I was very impressed with the Pillsbury® brand of pizza dough. If you have another favorite brand of pizza dough or you make your own, that will work great.
You are looking to press or roll the dough out to about 15 x 8 inches or so on a greased sheet pan.
Cut the dough in half top to bottom and then side to side to create 4 calzone sized pieces.
The picture below shows that I have made my first cut and then half of the second cut.
To get the meat ready to use, put some of the rib meat in a bowl..
Pour on some of my original rub (purchase recipe here)..
Add some of my original barbecue sauce (purchase recipe here) and mix it together.
Place it one side of the long edge about 1/2 inch from the edges.
Add some cooked peppers and onions.
Be generous with the cheese..in my opinion this makes the calzone.
Fold the empty half over the top of the filled half and press the edges together on 3 sides with a fork to seal.
Poke holes in the top with a fork to let some steam escape while it bakes.
Preheat the oven to about 425°F and bake for 15-20 minutes but watch them closely and remove them when the desire level of golden brown is achieved.
Tip: If you happen to have a ceramic cooker such as the Big Green Egg, you can use that as well to cook these to perfection.
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