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Panzerotti Pugliesi, cheese-stuffed pastry from Italy's south
Panzerotti are a stuffed pastry native to the southern Italian regions of Apulia (Puglia) and Campania. Think of them as large fried ravioli or a small calzone.
Panzerotti get their name from the southern Italian word pancia or "stomach" for their bulbous shape. The dish is traditionally made on January 17 for the feast of Sant'Antonio Abate (the patron saint of butchers and, coincidentally, gravediggers), the day that marks the beginning of Carnevale in Bari, the capital of Apulia.
In 18th-century Naples, panzerotti were made almost exactly as they are now; stuffed with a combination of cheeses -- often a fresh buffalo milk cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano, caciocavallo, or pecorino -- with parsley, nutmeg and egg. The ingredients were combined and enclosed in a dough, just like ravioli, and deep-fried quickly to achieve a perfect golden brown crunch.
Panzerotti can also be baked rather than fried. Change the filing only slightly (use 2 cups fresh ricotta, drained, 3 teaspoons sugar and the zest of one lemon instead of ingredients listed in the recipe below) and these will work just as well as a dessert as they do an antipasto.
Recipe excerpted from "Molto Batali: Simple Family Meals from My Home to Yours"
Makes approximately 15 panzerotti; serves 8 to 10 as a first course.
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 large eggs
2 cups fresh ricotta, drained
2 large eggs
1 cup grated caciocavallo cheese
6 salt-packed anchovy fillets, rinsed, drained and finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Prepare the pasta: In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add the olive oil, stirring with a whisk. Add the eggs and mix with your hands until the mixture forms a sticky dough. Add about 4 tablespoons cool water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough stays together. Knead on a lightly floured surface for 5 to 8 minutes, until elastic. Cover and allow to rest of 15 minutes.
To prepare the filling, combine the ricotta, eggs, cheese, anchovies, parsley and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl and stir until evenly mixed.
To assemble to panzerotti, form about 15 golf-ball-sized pieces of dough. On a floured work surface, roll out each ball to form a 5 1/2- to 6- inch round. Place 1 tablespoon of the filling in the center of each round, and fold the dough to form a half-moon, moistening between the edges with a little water to seal them.
Heat the oil in a 12- to 14-inch saute pan over medium heat, and cook the panzerotti, 3 or 4 at a time, until golden brown on both sides. Serve immediately.
Italian Stuffed Pastry Recipe, Italian Cuisine
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