Located South of Mount Vesuvius and a short drive from the Amalfi coast, the hilltop town of Gragnano is famous not only for being the birthplace of dried pasta but also of the so-called panuozzo. The panuozzo (or panozzo) – as its name evokes – is a sort of large sandwich made with pizza dough and it can be enriched with different fillings.
The history of panuozzo
There are many imitations and reproductions due to the high popularity of the dish, but nothing comes close to the original panuozzo and its legendary history.
The origin of panuozzo goes back to 1983, when Giuseppe Mascolo created a sandwich with pizza dough, but longer and narrower than usual, and then stuffed it with pancetta and mozzarella. It was Giuseppe’s daughter, Pasqualina, who called the sandwich ‘panuozzo’. Thirty years later, panuozzo di Gragnano has become famous throughout Italy. The recipe of the Mascolo family, who has been the exclusive owner of the registered trademark Panuozzo since 1996, has been kept as a precious secret.
Panuozzo di Gragnano is undoubtedly considered one of the gastronomic excellences of the Campania region. It is served hot and fragrant like a piece of freshly baked bread, and then opened like a casket showing its varied fillings that have changed over time to satisfy the palates of the most exigent customers. Far removed from the fast food concept, panuozzo di Gragnano stands out because of its genuine and healthy ingredients.
The recipe of panuozzo
Panuozzo is made with a mixture of plain flour and bread flour, salt, yeast, and a long leavening process lasting at least 24 hours. Obviously, Gragnano water, which flows from the natural springs of the Lattari Mountains, cannot miss. Its main characteristic is that it is poor in calcium, making the final product much lighter. Another feature that makes panuozzo special is that it goes through two stages of cooking. First, it is baked as you would do with a piece of bread. Then, the bread is cut, stuffed and baked again for about 5 minutes to let all the ingredients amalgamate.
However, what makes this sandwich unique is not only the type of preparation but also the quality of its ingredients, which are local and DOP and IGP certified.
So, if you crave a tasty and genuine alternative to pizza, panuozzo could be the perfect compromise you were looking for!
Ingredients for the dough
- 800 g flour 00 (plain flour)
- 200 g flour Manitoba (bread flour)
- 650 g water
- 12 g fresh yeast
- 30 g salt
Mix the two types of flour and then place them in a heap on a work surface.
Dissolve the yeast in the water, start mixing with the flour; knead for about five minutes, and then add the salt. Continue to knead for another five minutes until the dough is soft and smooth. Shape the dough into small loaves 20 centimetres long and 4 centimetres high, and then place them on a baking tray greased with a bit of oil to allow them to prove.
Once doubled in size, bake the panuozzi at 180C for 30 minutes. When ready, slice them lengthwise and tuck all the desired ingredients inside.
For the toppings, the best-selling panuozzo is the classic “Pancetta e fior di latte” (bacon and fiordilatte mozzarella cheese). However, you can fill it as you wish, for example with provolone cheese, tomato sauce and other cold cuts like salami or bacon. It goes well with vegetables and mushrooms, too.
Then, bake the panuozzo again for a brief time. This final step gives the sandwich its distinctive crispy crust and the filling can blend perfectly with the crumb. Serve the panuozzo still hot, eat it strictly with your hands, and perhaps accompany it with a nice glass of red wine from Gragnano.
Photos by Fiorenzo Mascolo.
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Written by Maria Carmen Staiano, Schuman Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit. She holds a Bachelor’s in Linguistic and Cultural Mediation and a Master’s in Specialized Translation at the University of Naples “L’Orientale”. She has experience in translation technologies, project management and localisation.