Though I'd love to take all the credit, John actually sparked the idea for these cheeseburger calzones. He's been on a roll lately with special meal requests. For his birthday dinner a few months ago, which was only a decoy so I could surprise him with a kid-free dinner out, he asked for fancy roast beef, mashed potatoes, and green beans. I spent hours cooking, plated it up real nice, and then served the whole shebang to John's brother and his girlfriend when they arrived to babysit Jack. I don't think I've ever seen John so confused. "Wait. We don't get to eat that?" Thank goodness the restaurant meal we had was even better, and we still got to enjoy a few days' worth of roast beef leftovers.
That's all to say that when I asked John what pizza request he had for Father's Day week, I held my breath, not quite sure what I'd be in for. It didn't take long: "When I think of Father's Day, I think of cookouts and grilling. What about something hamburger-related?"
After approximately 5.6 million toddler interruptions and a few wandering, side-tracked dialogues, we landed on cheeseburger calzones.
We're calling this John's first *real* Father's Day. He deserves a re-do, since last year we were stuck in the hospital for his actual first Father's Day, waiting for Jack's surgery date. As far as we're concerned, this is our first *real* summer as a family, our first *real* series of birthdays and holidays. In other words, if John had asked me to make him a 4-foot-tall pizza croquembouche, I would have sucked it up and made the damn thing. Because if there's ever been a dad who deserves to be recognized, it's him—for all the sleepless nights, vomit-covered days, MacGyver-style hacks, outside-the-box peek-a-boo sessions, pack mule stamina, steadfast love, etc. And if all he wanted was a cheeseburger calzone, then it was going to be the best friggin cheeseburger calzone that ever existed.
Turns out you can calz-own burgers pretty easily. (See what I did there?) Simply make a batch of pizza dough or let a store-bought ball come to room temp. Then, cook your burgers for a minute or two per side, until they've got a nice crust. Divide the dough into 4 portions, roll each out to a rectangle shape, put a burger on one short end of each rectangle, and top with onion (if desired), pickles, and cheese. Wrap it all up, brush with egg wash, and bake for 10 minutes.
These cheeseburger calzones are EVERYTHING your favorite papa could dream of for his special day (unless he's vegetarian or gluten-free, of course): Tender pizza crust, juicy burgers, crunchy pickles, and melty cheese. Plus, encased in bready goodness, they're less messy than traditional burgers and ideal for dipping in a summery, Old Bay–spiked version of "special sauce."
Happy Father's Day!
Cheeseburger Calzones with Special Sauce
For the calzones
- 1.5 pounds 90% lean ground beef
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (14 to 16-ounce) ball pizza dough
- 1/2 small red onion sliced (optional)
- 12 slices bread and butter or dill pickles
- 4 slices American cheese
- 1 egg
For the sauce
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup tomato ketchup
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
- 1-1/2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
- Sriracha sauce
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make the calzones
- Preheat the oven to 500°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Divide the ground beef into 4 equal portions and form each into a 4-inch square patty, keeping an even thickness. Press your thumb into the center of each to make a dent (this prevents the burgers from puffing up in the middle and cooking unevenly). Season with salt and pepper.
- Place a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When it's really hot (just beginning to smoke), add the burgers and cook for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes per side. (Don't worry about cooking the burgers all the way through; you just want them to have a browned crust.) Immediately remove them from the skillet and set them aside on a plate to cool slightly.
- Divide the pizza dough into 4 equal portions and roll each one out to a rectangle shape, 5 or 6 inches wide and 8 to 10 inches long.
- Place a burger on one side of each rectangle of dough. Top each with a few onion slices (if using), 3 pickle slices, and 1 slice of cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fold the exposed dough over the burger. Wet your fingers with a little water and twist/crimp the dough to seal. Using a sharp knife, cut vents in the top of each calzone.
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg with a splash of water. Brush this egg wash over the tops of the sealed calzones, then transfer the calzones to the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 10 minutes, or until the dough is puffed and golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly while you make the sauce.
To make the sauce
- In a medium bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, vinegar, relish, and Old Bay seasoning. Add Sriracha to taste, then season with salt and pepper as desired.
- Cut the calzones on the diagonal and serve them with little ramekins of the sauce for dipping.