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Deep-Fried Savory Tarts (Panzerotti)

  • SERVINGS: MAKES 60- 70 PANZEROTTI

In the Pugliese capital of Bari, panzerotti are traditionally made for the feast of St. Anthony Abbot on January 17. Like most Barese, author Nancy Harmon Jenkins' friend Pino Marchese likes hot panzerotti with ricotta forte, an almost painfully strong cheese spread that is perhaps closest to Limburger. But these are just as delightful on their own, especially when made as small as possible in a one-bite size. The stuffings vary, but the most popular is a highly seasoned mixture of onions, black olives, capers, anchovies and tomatoes—a ubiquitous filling and topping for Pugliese-style calzone and pizza.

As an alternative to frying, the tarts can be brushed with egg wash and baked in a preheated 375° oven for 15 minutes, or until golden and puffed.

Dough

  1. 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  2. 1 cup milk
  3. 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  4. 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  5. 7 cups unbleached flour plus more for kneading
  6. 1 teaspoon salt

Onion-Olive Stuffing

  1. 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  2. 1 pound onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  3. 2 canned plum tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped (1/2 cup)
  4. 1/3 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  5. 20 Calamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  6. 1 tablespoon capers
  7. 4 oil-packed anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped
  8. 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  9. Salt and freshly ground pepper

Spicy Pork Stuffing

  1. One 1-inch-thick slice of stale country bread, crust removed
  2. 1/2 pound lean ground pork
  3. 1 large egg
  4. 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  5. 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  6. 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  7. 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  8. 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
  9. 1 teaspoon salt
  10. Extra-virgin olive oil, for deep- frying
  1. In a small bowl, mix the yeast with 1 cup of warm water and let stand until frothy, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, warm the milk in a small saucepan. Stir in the oil and wine.
  2. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour with the dissolved yeast. Add the milk mixture to the dough and gradually stir in the remaining 5 cups flour and the salt. The dough should be very soft, but if it is too wet to knead by hand, add more flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it until satiny and smooth, about 5 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp kitchen towel and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  3. Heat the oil in a large nonreactive skillet Add the onions and cook over moderately low heat until softened but not browned about 12 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook until they begin to dissolve about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley, olives, capers, anchovies and cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Soak the bread in warm water until softened, then squeeze out as much water as possible. Tear the bread into small pieces. Ia medium bowl, combine the bread, pork, egg, cheese, parsley, crushed red pepper, black pepper, oregano and salt. Knead the mixture thoroughly with your hands.
  5. Punch down the dough and pull off 60 to 70 walnut-size pieces. Roll the pieces into little balls and set them on a lightly floured sheet. Cover with a dampened cloth and let rise until billowy and nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  6. Working with a few pieces of dough at a time, roll out each ball on a lightly floured surface to a thin 4-inch round. Place 1 tablespoon of a filling on each circle, just to one side of the center. Lightly brush the edges with water, fold in half to enclose the filling and seal the edges with a fork. Set each tart on a rack as it is finished; repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Let the tarts dry for at least 15 minutes after the last one is completed.
  7. In a deep skillet, heat 1 1/2 inches of oil to 380°. Working in batches of 4 or 5, carefully slide the tarts into the hot oil and fry until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tarts to a rack to drain. Serve immediately.