Stromboli

Stromboli: One of the Aeolian Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the coast of Italy, also the location of one of the most active volcanoes on Earth.
Stromboli: The 1950s movie starring Ingrid Bergman.
Stromboli: Rolled pizza.

Stromboli is in the family of rolled or folded pizzas. Calzone and panzarotti are part of that family as well. Calzone (translation: “trouser leg”) is a half-moon in shape, baked and stuffed with various ingredients. It is a specialty of Naples, Italy. Panzarotti (translation: “little bellies”) is also half-moon in shape and stuffed with various ingredients; however, it is (typically) deep-fried rather than baked. Tuscany and Apulia are two regions in Italy where you are most apt to find these delicious “little bellies.”

It is not likely that you will find Stromboli –– the rolled pizza, that is –– any where in Italy (not even on the island of Stromboli).

Much has been written about calzones and panzarotti. On the other hand, stromboli always seems to get the short end of the pizza pie. Let me qualify that: East Coast pizza operators are very much in tune with the stromboli. In fact, you will find stromboli on a high percentage of menus in Italian restaurants and pizzerias on the East Coast. So I am here to thump the culinary drum and parade the praises of stromboli to get you to try it.

For a number of reasons, strombolis are easier to make than calzone or panzarotti. Everything you need (more than you will need) to stuff a stromboli is already on your pizza prep table. Stromboli is a delectable alternative to pizza by-the-slice, or individual pizza. It delivers well, is sensational for a catering item and is great for a buffet because you can make several large strombolis and slice them, giving your customers a new look and a fun way to eat pizza.

To form a stromboli, it is simply a stretch, fill, fold and roll operation. Using your pizza dough, stretch or roll it into a rectangle (I like to work with a rectangle of dough, but you can use a round pizza shell, too). What size? You can determine that based on whether you want to do individual stromboli or big ones (I suppose I can coin a word here and call that big one a stromboloni) to slice and serve.

Now you lay the ingredients –– pizza sauce, shredded mozzarella, sausage, pepperoni and veggies –– or whatever you choose across the center of the dough, stopping about one-inch from the shorter edge. The next step is a simple fold and roll procedure. Fold the two short ends of the dough over so that it covers a part of the stuffing. Now fold the long edge (the one closest to you) over the filling to enclose it. Next, fold the other long edge toward you so that it overlaps. Roll it over, pinwheel fashion, so that the seam is down. Brush the top with an egg wash or olive oil. Transfer the stromboli to a baking sheet or pizza pan and bake.

Here’s another idea: using dough that you might otherwise be thinking about tossing, make a number of stromboli, bake them and allow them to cool, then wrap and freeze for future use.

To make sure you better understand how this works, I am going to set up two basic options. The first option concerns a large stromboli that you can fill, fold, roll, bake and slice for a buffet or family-style serving. I will use a rectangle of pizza dough that is quite thin (less than 1/8-inch thick). I will roll or stretch it to a size that is about 12 inches by 10 inches. I will lay the filling in the center of the dough, stopping about one inch from each edge (the short edge).

Now simply follow the steps that I mentioned earlier. You will end up with a large stromboli that measures about 12 inches in length and about 4 inches across. After baking, let the stromboli cool down for several minutes. Slice on the bias and it is ready to serve.
For the second option, which is an individual serving, I will roll the dough to about 9 inches x 6 inches. Follow the basic fill, fold and roll steps. You will end up with a stromboli that is about 8 inches in length by about 2 inches across.
A few important tips:
Use only meats –– sausage, for example –– that have been cooked.
Vegetables like bell peppers and onions should be cooked ahead, too (I use roasted red peppers for optimum flavor…see related article on page XX).
Shredded cheese works better than sliced cheese.
To enhance the appearance of the finished stromboli, brush the top with an egg wash before baking (this will give it a glossy sheen) or olive oil.
Using the tip of a sharp knife, slit the top of the stromboli in one or two places before baking (to allow the steam out and avoid splitting). I like to bake the stromboli at 375 F.
Average cooking time (relative to oven used) will be about 20-25 minutes. Stromboli serves better when it has cooled down, almost to the point of lukewarm. You can serve it with a hot dipping sauce (marinara) if you wish.

STROMBOLI POLLO PARMIGIANO 
(chicken Parmesan)

16 ounces pizza dough
3/4 pound cooked chicken breasts shredded or diced
2 cups shredded mozzarella
12 ounces seasoned pizza sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Roll or stretch the dough into a rectangle that is about 12 inches x 10 inches.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked chicken, shredded mozzarella, pizza sauce and Parmesan. Toss well to combine.
Lay the chicken mixture across the center of the dough, stopping about one inch from either edge. Fold the two short edges over toward the filling. Fold the long edge (closest to you) over the filling. Bring the other long edge toward you to completely enclose the filling. Roll the stromboli (pinwheel fashion) over so that the seam is on the bottom. Brush the top with olive oil. Cut two slits in the top with a sharp knife. Bake in a 375 F. oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is toasty brown. Let cool for 8 to 10 minutes. Slice on the bias.

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