Panzerotti is stuffed fried bread, typical of the region of Puglia in southern Italy, and also a popular treat for the Milanese. These scrumptious pillows of cheesy delight are the original Hot Pockets. The dough is similar to pizza dough, but the addition of milk makes the texture softer and lighter than it’s open-faced cousin.
Prep Time: Approx. 1 hour 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Ingredients for dough:
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
- 1/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup whole milk
Ingredients for filling:
- 8 ounces mozzarella, shredded
- 1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino
- 2 ounces Prosciutto, finely shredded
- 4 sun-dried tomatoes, cut in thin slices
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Olive Oil for frying
Make the Dough:
- Warm the water and milk, but be sure not to let it bubble or reach a temperature above 150 degrees F. Once warmed, pour into a bowl and add the sugar and yeast. Combine and allow it to dissolve and start to bubble, about 5 – 10 minutes. Add olive oil to the yeast mixture.
- Place flour, cornmeal, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. With the mixer on low speed combine the dry ingredients, then slowly add yeast mixture. The flour mixture should be soft and moist. You can always add more flour if needed.
- Knead at slow speed until dough is firm and soft, for about 10 minutes.
- Lightly oil a large airtight container, place dough in the container and cover.
- Set aside in warm place to rise for 35-40 minutes, or until it has doubled in bulk
Prepare the filling:
Meanwhile, combine all filling ingredients and set aside.
- Lightly oil a sheet pan. Once the dough has doubled in size, section dough into tennis ball size disks and place on the sheet pan. If the dough is too sticky to handle, knead a little more flour into it. Cover with plastic wrap so the dough doesn’t dry out and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle flour on a work surface and with a floured rolling pin, roll disks into rounds about 1/4 inch thick. Place a generous portion of the cheese filling in the center of each round. Fold the disks in half to form half moons. Press the edges together firmly with your fingers and trim with a pastry wheel. Go over the edges again and make sure your bundle is sealed. Let rest while the oil heats.
Frying the panzerotti:
- Heat a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Once the pan is hot, add the olive oil. Make sure the oil doesn’t fill the saucepan more than half. Heat slowly until the oil is rippling, almost smoking. Add 2 or 3 of the panzerotti at a time and cook until browned. Do not crowd them.
- Give it about a minute, then turn them gently with a flat metal slotted spatula to ensure even browning on both sides. The whole cook time should take no more than 5 minutes. Once evenly browned, remove the cooked panzerotti and place them on a tray lined with paper towels to drain. Serve immediately with Nadia’s Sicilian Tomato Sauce, or remove the paper towels and put them in a 150 degree oven until ready to serve.
It is common for some of the filling to leak out during frying. Don’t worry, it’s totally normal, but be careful because this will make the oil spatter for a few moments. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the size of the panzerotti or the combinations of ingredients in the filling mixture. Play around and make different sizes: we like larger ones for lunch and smaller ones for appetizers.
Now you know how to make the perfect Italian Panzerotti! Send us photos of your little pockets of goodness and comment about your favorite fillings below!