In the Kitchen
The Pizza Chef: Panzerotties for Profit
By Diana Coutu
Panzerotties for Profit
By Diana Coutu
What item can you add to your present menu to give your
customers a different meal option, without having to add any other
ingredients, toppings or cheese, nor add a whole lot of expensive
equipment, nor need extra space to accommodate the addition to your
What item can you add to your present menu to give your customers a different meal option, without having to add any other ingredients, toppings or cheese, nor add a whole lot of expensive equipment, nor need extra space to accommodate the addition to your menu?
Panzerotties, also known as calzones; or the more generic names of pizza pockets and pizza pops. You’ve already got everything in stock, dough, sauce, cheese and toppings. Other than that, for equipment, if you want a nicely pinched edge on your panzerotties, you’ll have to get … a fork.
The basic process for making panzerotties is to take a small patty, slap or stretch it out to about an inch larger than the screen. We make 9-inch and 12-inch panzerotties and use the appropriate size screens. Put a small amount of sauce just off the centre, being careful not to over-sauce. It’s better to go lighter in this case because the sauce heats up really fast and too much will cause large amounts of steam to build up inside and usually result in a ‘popped’ panzerotti, with sauce, cheese and fillings oozing all over your oven. Not to mention it cooks inconsistently. If you or one of your customers is a sauce lover, it’s best to serve extra sauce on the side, warmed up, for dipping.
Next cover your sauce spot with cheese. We portion 2 1/2 ounces of cheese in our 9-inch panzerotties, the same amount as on our small pizza. Then place your toppings on the cheese spot. Try to place your toppings in the middle of your panzerotti, leaving at least a thumbnail border around the edge of the dough. We typically use a little less than our small pizza portion amounts.
If you add more than one topping, you should reduce the amount of the other toppings a little to accommodate the extra filling. For best results, panzerotties should have one to three toppings, and a maximum of four to five.
Once you’ve added all your toppings/ fillings, grab one side of your panzerotti dough and fold it over to meet the dough on other side, essentially giving you the folded pocket. This is where having slapped out your panzerotties bigger than the screen comes in handy because it gives you a little extra room to pinch your edges together. Clear any cheese or toppings from between the folded edges, if you have anything caught in here you won’t be able to get a good seal and your panzo will pop open in the oven and make a big mess.
Next, take your fancy fork and press the edges together. Trim any excess dough away with a pizza wheel cutter. If your dough has become dry, use a wet your finger to moisten the edges and then press together with the fork. Next – and this is extremely important – poke your panzo with the fork several times, creating venting holes for all the steam as your panzo cooks. If you neglect to do this, your panzerotti will most certainly burst open at the seams.
One last tip before going in the oven, gently lift your panzerotti off the screen, making sure it’s not stuck anywhere, and then gently place it back on the screen.
Bake in your regular pizza oven until the top and bottom are golden brown.
Some people say that you have to cook panzerotties at a lower temperature, but I’ve found that as long as you’re not over-saucing and over-stuffing, they cook fine at the hotter pizza oven temperature.
If you’re cooking in a deck oven, expect to rotate your panzo half way through baking.
Once the panzerotti is finished baking, we brush it with a touch of garlic butter and sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese on it. Amazingly enough, even though it’s the same ingredients as pizza, it tastes very different with the garlic butter and Parmesan added. We serve it in a standard pizza box. We tried several times to find boxes to fit, but unless we wanted to special order a “gazillion” of them, it didn’t make economical sense. And being a small independent pizzeria, ordering a “gazillion” of anything doesn’t make economical sense either. So we just use regular pizza boxes and build the cost into the price.
As an additional profit centre, get your 5(a) permit for frozen pizza manufacturers and make and bake dozens of these at a time.
Just like frozen pizzas, offer them in the most popular combinations. And just like the ones available in your grocer’s freezer, they heat up in the microwave in minutes and there’s no tax. Your customers are already buying these, might as well be from you. Repeat the process above only omit the garlic butter and Parmesan cheese. Portion the garlic butter between two sheets of wax paper and freeze it solid (ahead of time) so it’s separate from the panzo. Cool panzerotties completely and insert the waxed sheet of garlic butter (on the side) before shrink-wrapping them together.
With a 5(a) permit, these little frozen sidelines are very profitable, and your customers will love them.•