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Italian Sausage and Fennel Calzone

Aaron Craze whips up an Italian-inspired feast in episode 10 of Perfect.


  • 3 x Italian sausages, cooked and sliced (please keep pan to cook fennel)

  • 1 x bulb Florence fennel, cut into 16 slices lengthways

  • 1 banana shallot

  • A dash of white wine

  • 100g fontina cheese

  • 1 x bunch of tarragon

  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • For the tomato sauce:

  • 1 x tin chopped cherry tomatoes

  • 1 x tsp dried oregano

  • 1 x tbsp tomato puree

  • 1 x clove of garlic

  • A pinch of sugar

  • For the pizza dough:

  • 500g "00" tipo pasta flour

  • 150g polenta

  • 1 tbsps toasted fennel seeds

  • 15g fresh yeast

  • 300ml tepid water

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • 50ml extra virgin olive oil

  • Semolina for dusting


  • 1.

    Pour the flour/s, fennel seeds, sugar and salt on to a clean work surface and make a well in the middle. In a jug, mix the yeast, sugar and olive oil into the water and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well. Using a fork, bring the flour in gradually from the sides and swirl it into the liquid. Keep mixing, drawing larger amounts of flour in, and when it all starts to come together, work the rest of the flour in with your clean, flour-dusted hands. Knead until you have a smooth, springy dough.

  • 2.

    Place the ball of dough in a large flour-dusted bowl and flour the top of it. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place in a warm room for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.

  • 3.

    Now remove the dough to a flour-dusted surface and knead it around a bit to push the air out with your hands – this is called knocking back the dough. You can either use it immediately, or keep it, wrapped in clingfilm, in the fridge (or freezer) until required.

  • 4.

    Now roll out the dough. You want to get them roughly circular, about the thickness of a pound coin, and 30cm across. You can now either keep these in the fridge, stacked and separated with olive-oil-rubbed and flour-dusted tinfoil, until you’re ready to cook them, or you can put your topping on and cook them straight away.

  • 5.

    To make the filling, using the pan you cooked the sausages in fry the fennel and shallot slices in a little butter then add the wine and butter and cook for a couple of minutes then leave to cool

  • 6.

    Divide the tomato mixture evenly between the four pizza bases and spread it out nicely. Top with pieces of sausage, fennel and fontina and season with salt and pepper, finish with the tarragon. To make your calzone, carefully lift the far edge of the pizza dough and pull it over the top towards you – you basically need to fold it in half (imagine it looking like a big Cornish pasty!). Crimp the edges so none of the filling can spill out. Place the calzone side by side on a floured baking tray (use two if you need to), pizza stone or granite slab.

  • 7.

    Cook for 10 to 15 minutes on the bottom of the preheated oven until the dough is puffed up and golden on top and the filling is hot



• Using polenta as well as flour will improve the depth of flavour and crisp texture of the finished calzone or pizza.

• Fresh yeast imparts a better flavour and also works faster than its dried alternative. It’s harder to find than dried but can still be bought at some of the larger supermarkets, such as Sainsburys, with in-house bakeries. Independent bakeries sometimes will sell you some of their own supplies.

• Only excess heat will kill yeast, however, it does benefit from tepid (body temperature) liquid to help kick into action faster. Salt whilst giving flavour will retard the yeast, so by adding a little sugar, which feeds it, you still get the flavour without having to wait hours for the dough to rise!

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