Panzerotti with Drunken Red Sauce


By: Corinne

There is this great place for panzerotti here in town. It’s one of those hole in the wall, a little bit sketch looking places that you’d never just wander into. It’s a bit off the beaten path, but has the BEST panzerotti I’ve ever had in a restaurant. The dough is deep fried and delicious and it’s absolutely loaded with cheese. That being said, one can’t be venturing to the dark side of town all the time when the hankering for panzerotti comes up, so I mostly make my own. That and there isn’t red wine in their sauce. All the more reason to make my own. 🙂

These panzerotti are baked, but to give them a bit of an extra glossiness are brushed with butter right at the end of cooking. The absolute star of the show here is the sauce. If you don’t like red wine, don’t make this sauce. If you don’t like to drink the wine you bought to make this, for the love, please save it for something with less wine in it. This isn’t called “Drunken” red sauce for no reason. You will taste the wine in the sauce. You will smell the wine when you re-heat the sauce. But it is oh so good. I have a friend who lives in the Arctic, and this is one of her requests whenever she is home for a visit. ***update*** I’ve been told by this very same friend that she doesn’t like red wine, but insists the sauce is amazing. So perhaps my previous warning is unnecessary.

The dough recipe is an easy go-to pizza dough that also happens to work just fine for cinnamon buns if you’re feeling so inclined on the weekend. It’s from my friend TL, who I sometimes have to call because I can remember everything except for the amount of water almost every time I make this. I suppose now I’ll have it written down, but I’ll probably still call 😉

Time: 15 min prep, 30 min cooking for sauce/rise time for dough, 20 min cooking for panzerotti

Serves: makes 4 large panzerotti

You Will Need:

For the sauce

  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1-2 stalks of celery diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 thai chili pepper – or other small hot pepper, finely minced
  • 1/2 a bottle of red wine – I like to use a cabernet sauvignon
  • 1 can of diced or whole tomatoes *you will be blending them up, so it doesn’t really matter
  • 2-3 tbsp of tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pat of butter for sautéing the vegetables

You will need for Tl’s-works-every-time pizza dough

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp yeast (quick rise or traditional, either works, traditional will just take longer to rise)
  • 1 1/3 cup very warm water
  • ** this is enough dough to make 4 large panzerotti- you can freeze them once assembled but before baking and then cook from frozen, though they will take a little bit longer to cook

You will need for filling-whatever you like! I usually use some mix of the following, but do whatever you like on your pizza here!

  • regular and hot genoa
  • diced red pepper
  • diced red onion
  • mozzarella cheese
  • mushrooms for people who like them

Mix dry ingredients, including yeast, for dough. Add very warm water and knead a few minutes until all ingredients have come together in a smooth dough. If dough seems too sticky, add a bit more flour. Rub dough with a tbsp or so of oil, cover, and let rise until you are ready to roll out for ingredients. Your dough will probably double in this time.

Add onion, celery and pat of butter to a thick bottomed pan you are making your sauce in. Cook onion and celery on medium low for at least 10-15 min. If you have the time to let your onion caramelize rather than just soften, it will only make your sauce better.

Add garlic and chili pepper to the onion and celery just before you add the wine. Give them a good stir around, but don’t let the garlic brown. Add a little bit less than half a bottle of the delicious wine you are using for this recipe. If you really feel like the need to measure here, that should be about 1 1/4 cup of wine, but I’ve never actually measured. You end up using half a 750mL bottle of wine. If you add all the wine here and then reduce, that totally works.  I usually reserve about 1/4 cup to add to the sauce later.  Let this bubble away for a while until it is reduced by a bit more than half. Add the can of tomatoes. Let this simmer away for 20 minutes, or as long as you like if you’ve got all day (in which case you will need to add some extra liquid to replace that lost in a long simmer).

Assemble your panzerotti. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll out into a roughly 10″ oval/circle. Place chosen filling ingredients in the front half of your rolled out dough- see photo.

Put your fillings towards the front of the dough, not in the middle, otherwise when you try to seal you will end up with something more like a log than a nice half moon.

Pull the rest of the dough over top and pinch to seal the edge. Bake in a 450F oven for about 18 min. Pull out and brush with melted butter and return to oven for about 2 more minutes. Dough should be puffed and golden. While your panzerotti are in the oven, use an immersion blender to smooth out your sauce. Add remaining 1/4 cup of red wine (if you managed to reserve it) and 2-3 tbsp of tomato paste.

Top with sauce or serve sauce on the side.


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