Smoked Baby Back Rib Calzone

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.

Use rib meat, pulled pork, brisket, chicken, turkey, ham, whatever you happen to have out of the smoker to reproduce this recipe at your house and then let me know how it went!

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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!

 Prep Time: 35 minutes | Cook Time: 5 hours 20 minutes | Smoker Temp: 225-240°F | Meat Finish Temp: N/A | Recommended Wood: Pecan or Hickory

What you'll need to make 6-8 individual calzones
  • 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)
What you'll need to smoke the baby back ribs

Remove baby backs from wrapping, rinse under cold water and lay them on the cutting board.

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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.

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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.

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Apply my original rub (purchase recipe here) generously to top and bottom of the ribs and wait for them to get that “wet” look.

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Smoke the ribs at 225-240 degrees using the 2-2-1 method which is:

  1. 2 hours in an open pan or directly on the grate. Then..
  2. 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..
  3. 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.

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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.

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Use a sharp knife to slice the rib meat into small bite-sized pieces.

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Pre-cooking the Peppers and Onions

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.

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Making the Calzone

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.

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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.

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To get the meat ready to use, put some of the rib meat in a bowl..

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Pour on some of my original rub (purchase recipe here)..

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Add some of my original barbecue sauce (purchase recipe here) and mix it together.

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Place it one side of the long edge about 1/2 inch from the edges.

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Add some cooked peppers and onions.

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Be generous with the cheese..in my opinion this makes the calzone.

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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.

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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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Serve immediately!

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Other Smoked Meat Options for Calzone

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"Love the sauce and rub recipes. So far I have used them on beef ribs, pork ribs, and different chicken parts. Can't wait to do a beef brisket. Texas rub is great as well!" ~Peter S.
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"Love the original rib rub and sauce! We have an annual rib fest competition at the lake every 4th of July. I will say we have won a great percent of the time over the past 15 years so we are not novices by any means. However, we didn't win last year and had to step up our game! We used Jeff's rub and sauce (sauce on the side) and it was a landslide win for us this year! Thanks Jeff for the great recipes. I'm looking forward to trying the Texas style rub in the near future!" ~Michelle M.

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About the Author

Long time Industrial Engineer turned self-proclaimed fire poker, pitmaster and smoke whisperer and loving every minute of it!

6 Comments on this article. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Gary July 3, 2016 at 8:22 pm - Reply

    Jeff, I love ya, man. But as you are a smoker enthusiast, I am a pizza enthusiast. Telling people to buy refrigerated processed crappy pizza dough, is like telling people to boil their ribs and finish them quickly in the oven with some Lawry’s on it. Or something like that. Your recipe is fantastic, in essence. But please make your own pizza/calzone dough from scratch!

  2. Norman Wilson March 29, 2015 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    I tried some of your recipes on the Pelite smoker and they work fine. Like you said temperature is the thing. And time.

  3. dave mccain December 5, 2013 at 3:54 am - Reply

    Jeff if you haven't already tried it, 1/2 BBQ sauce & 1/2 Pizza sauce is out of this world as a sauce for pizza & calzones.

  4. Shane June 27, 2013 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    Jeff,

    Baby back rib calzone? Man, I wish I had thought of that! Great idea and I can't wait to try your recipe.

    We did briskets and ribs last weekend for the local little league and I used your rub and sauce. Every one kept complimenting me on the flavor…thanks Jeff!

    Maybe you've posted this in the past,but do you have any experience curing and smoking your own bacon? Any tips? Me and my buddies have been wanting to attempt that for a while now and any advice you might have would be greatly appreciated.

     

    Houston,Texas

  5. Pete June 27, 2013 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    Jeff it appears that 99% of your newsletter appears to be about using charcol type smokers. I would appreciate it and I'm sure others would too if you would start posting cooking/smoking with electric smokers too. I have a Masterbuilt one that I like a lot. The average family now uses the electric type smoker more than the kettle or tank type ones. They are so much more easier to use. Thanks

    • Jeff Phillips June 27, 2013 at 1:24 pm - Reply

      All of my instructions are intended to be generic meaning they are written to be used with any type of smoker whether gas, electric, charcoal or all wood.

      As long as you maintain the proper heat and apply smoke, the type of smoker you use becomes irrelevant.

       

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