Stuffed breads are Iconic Italian-American food. They are sold everywhere ItalianAmerican live and then some, sometimes known as one of their most popular names “STROMBOLI”. Food Legend says the Stromboli was invented as the American cousin of the PIZZA IMBOTTITA, the Stuffed Pizza, also part of the CALZONE family. In true ItalianAmerican fashion there’s a bunch of cousins, they are all related yet they are all different. Strombolis usually have Italian Cold cuts and cheeses with a thinner rolled out dough, then rolled up (jelly roll style) and baked. It’s sliced in thinner pieces or in half for serving. Pizzeria culture in American serves it with a dipping sauce, usually a marinara. Homecooks make these stuffed breads in any one of a few popular styles. My Sausage, Peppers and Onions stuffed bread is somewhere between the Stromboli and Calzone style. I like a thinner bread to hold the sausage and peppers in . The last thing you want is a stuffed bread that’s just…bread. Or too thick and you don’t taste the filling. Balance. Pane Imbottito (Stuffed Bread) is popular in Campanian/Napoletana Cuisine. Often the filling is distributed through the dough, sometimes it’s thinly rolled out then spread with the filling and tightly rolled (Rottolo di Pane) and often a thicker dough with the filling tucked inside. Italian food=many variations. ItalianAmerican communities are known for homecooks and businesses that specialize in all variations of these stuffed breads. My favorite of them all is when I make it with a filling of chunky roasted Sweet Fennel Pork Sausage, fried onions and Cubanelle peppers, olive oil, pinch of oregano, pinch of Peperoncino, dash of Red Wine Vinegar, small dice of Provolone. When baked in a delicious dough it’s amazing. Let’s make a stuffed bread with Sausage and Peppers…oh the things I learned in my Mom’s kitchen.
FOR THE DOUGH:
2 1/4 cups SIFTED ALL PURPOSE FLOUR, or my preference, 2 1 /4 cups TIPO 00 FLOUR
1 cup warm water
1/8 cup Whole Milk
1 TSP Kosher Salt
Black pepper (coarse)
1 1/2 TSP HONEY
1 packet YEAST
1/4 CUP LARD
In a bowl add the water, yeast, honey and leave it for 15 minutes. When it’s fragrant and bubbling on top it’s ready. In a large mixing bowl add the flour , salt, 1/8 cup of lard. Using a mixer or a fork blend the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast/water mixture. Gently blend the dry into the wet and when it’s all come together knead it for 5 minutes. Roll it into a rectangle. spread 1/2 the remaining lard over it. Sprinkle with black pepper. Fold it over and roll it into a rectangle again. Repeat with the remaining lard and the black pepper. Fold it over and then knead it for 5 minutes. Cover with a light coating of olive oil and a kitchen towel over the bowl. Let sit for 2 hours. Should double. While that’s doubling..let’s make the filling.
1 1/2 LBS of FRESH SWEET FENNEL PORK SAUSAGE
1 LARGE SWEET ONION,SLICED
3 SLICED CUBANELLE PEPPERS (ITALIAN FRYING PEPPERS)
2 SLICED CLOVES OF GARLIC
1/2 CUP SMALL DICE IMPORTED ITALIAN PROVOLONE
PINCH OF OREGANO
PINCH OF CRUSHED FENNEL SEEDS
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
GRATED PECORINO, BLACK PEPPER
1 egg beaten with some heavy cream for an Egg Wash
Roast or pan fry the Sausage. Let it cool. Then cut into small chunks. In a heavy wide frying pan, heat 2 tbs of the Extra Virgin Olive oil, add a pinch of Peperoncino and then add the Fennel Seeds. Let this saute’ for about 1 1/2 minutes then add the peppers and onions…the oregano, salt…and saute’ till the peppers and the onions are soft. When that happens, add the sausage and the collected drippings and simmer for 10 minutes. Then let it sit and cool down.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F or as high as it will go. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle or two smaller ones. Sprinkle them with some grated cheese and breadcrumbs (helps keep the dough from getting soggy). Then layer in the sausage and peppers on 3/4 of the rectangle. Scatter the cubes of provolone over it. Starting at the left side where you’ve layered the sausage gently roll up. with some pf the egg wash press the roll into the end of the dough. The egg wash will help it adhere and not pop open in baking. Pinch the ends of the roll doing the same. Then brush the whole top with egg wash and sprinkle with black pepper, grated Pecorino, and kosher salt. Lay onto a well oiled baking pan and into the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 30 minutes checking to see it’s not burning. All ovens are different. Remove from the oven when the bottom is hard and well baked and when you tap on it it sounds hollow. Let this cool for 15 minutes before cutting. Use a serrated knife. Eat as is. Slice in whatever size you want.
As seen in the above pic I like to make party apps out of them. I make them a day ahead, then slice and bake as needed. Enjoy!!!