Since I’m not allowed to stitch any visceral organs yet, and rightfully so only three weeks into my general surgery rotation, I have been continually getting the privilege to “close”—which sounds like I might be a reserve star pitcher, but really, it’s the grunt work OR job for medical students—stitching closed the incision. I take certain pride in my skin stitching—it is, I believe, an important art and quite possibly the one that will in the long run get the most attention. So, the other night, when I was making dinner, I discovered a perfect opportunity to exercise my suturing skills—on a calzone.
Calzone with Sutures
Ingredients for the Basic Pizza Dough
(this will make enough dough for three rather large Calzones)
1 cup sourdough starter
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups (22 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting (used all-purpose)
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
olive oil or non-stick cooking spray for greasing the bowl
For the Extras
3 cups pizza sauce, I use marinara
4 ounces mozzarella, shredded
8 ounces sliced pepperoni
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan
I like to put in chicken or a cut up bell pepper too
- Measure the warm water and oil into a bowel and add the sourdough starter.
- Add flour and salt to the liquid ingredients. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.
- Shape into smooth round ball and cover with a damp cloth. Let dough relax for at least 10 minutes (no more than 30 minutes)
- Brush rolled out dough round with oil. Spread 1 cup tomato sauce even over dough round, leaving ½ inch border. Sprinkle one half with 1 cup mozzarella, and cover with pepperoni, or whatever your toppings of choice might be. Fold in half and get scrubbed in.
- Find a needle driver and pick ups.
- Closing a calzone has long been a tricky practice fraught with error. In my previous iterations of this effort, I have tried a folding pleat technique. Prep your calzone with conscious sedation (talking gently to it will work if you don’t have versed and fentanyl) and instead of betadyne, rub the belly or exposed area with olive oil in a circular fashion (always move from clean to dirty).
- Now, I tried several different types of silk, but braided Ethicon 2-0 nonabsorbable had the best tension and well-withstood the oven temperatures. I also experimented with three different suture patterns, subcuticular stitch, interrupted horizontal mattress stitch, and, the best—continuous running stitch.
- When your stitches are in, slide the calzone on a peel (covered with corn meal) onto pizza stone (which should have been heated for at least 30 minutes at 500 degrees) and bake for 8 to 12 minutes. Remove pizza from oven and sprinkle with Parmesan or more mozzarella.
- Repeat with the two other rounds. Enjoy!
Just remember—remove the sutures to eat the calzone. Or before you bring it to a party. Unless it is a party full of surgeons. Then they are all going to want you in their OR.