Choriqueso in a panuozzo

How much chorizo and cheese can you hold in your hand?

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Read Time: 9 minutes

Note: this is not an authentic or a traditional sandwich. This is one of those situations where I’ve found two different concepts on the internet and combined them to create one tasty and fairly easy-to-make handheld sandwich experience.

What is this sandwich?

This is a super savory flatbread sandwich packed with seasoned, crumbled pork sausage, onions, and melty cheese, a spread of black beans, and some avocado for your health. This sandwich combines a pizza dough baking method with a torta that Chicago-based chef Rick Bayless recently shared on YouTube. First, I’m going to write a bit about where the concepts originated and then I’ll share how to make one from scratch.

Pizza dough sandwich

A couple of weeks ago I shared this King Arthur Baking video about a mortadella pizza dough sandwich. In that video they say they are emulating or inspired by a sandwich made from pizza dough called La Mortazza, from a restaurant named Mother Wolf in Los Angeles. We’re going to ignore all the internal sandwich ingredients and just use the method of cooking the pizza dough.

The concept is that pizza dough is shaped in a circle or oval, oil is added to the surface, then the dough is folded over and baked. The oil keeps the dough from sticking to itself as it bakes, leaving an openable pocket that can be stuffed with sandwich items.

I’ve turned pizza dough or flatbread dough into a sandwich a bunch of times, but this technique is shaping and baking the dough in a different way than I have shown in the past. Basically, this is a simple way to turn pizza dough into a handheld flatbread sandwich.

Also known as Panuozzo

Panuozzo (Italian language Wikipedia link) is a form of hand-held street food from the Campania region of Italy (the lower shin of the boot), that is typically served hot. The story is that an Italian pizza chef named Giuseppe Mascolo invented the panuozzo in 1982 while looking for an alternative way to use pizza dough.

The ingredients in a panuozzo can vary, but the one thing that all panuozzo have in common is that the bread is made from the same dough used to make pizza dough. The bread for a panuozzo is sometimes baked and then cut or sliced like focaccia and sometimes folded over the sandwich fillings like a folded-over flatbread.

Now we know the bread, so we need to talk about the fillings.

Rick Bayless’ choriqueso sandwich recipe

What is choriqueso?

Choriqueso is the combination or portmanteau of two words, chorizo and queso.

Chorizo is a spiced pork (or beef) sausage that can be purchased in smoked or fresh versions. The chorizo we are using today is fresh, which means it’s a sausage in a casing that is not yet cooked.

Queso is Spanish for cheese. So choriqueso is a blending of spiced sausage and cheese. Choriqueso can also be known as queso fundido or sometimes queso flameado.

Rick Bayless’ cheesy choriqueso torta recipe

Chef Rick Bayless has published many different cookbooks and owns several Mexican-focused restaurants. He has had a Public Broadcasting cooking TV show for many years. Bayless also started Frontera Foods which makes all sorts of items like tortilla chips, salsas, fajita marinades, enchilada sauce, and much more. Bayless eventually sold his ownership in this brand in 2016. He also lives about a mile from my house but hasn’t invited me over for dinner yet.

A video of Rick Bayless making a choriqueso torta. I based the fillings in my sandwich today on this recipe.

If you’ve never watched his TV show or YouTube channel and you like Mexican-focused food, I strongly suggest checking out a few videos and subscribing. Bayless is a really good teacher, and, in my experience, his YouTube channel is just as well produced as his Public Broadcasting based TV show. The video I shared above is about how you can make the sandwich that inspired me to create the filling for my panuozzo.

So, we’re using cooked pizza dough as the flatbread for our spicy, savory, cheesy sausage sandwich. Let’s get started.

Pizza dough

This is the pizza dough that my wife and I typically make for pizza night when we’re looking for something like a hand-tossed NYC-style pizza. It’s not a super crispy Chicago tavern-style crust and it’s not one of those charred Neapolitan pizzas either. It’s a simple dough to work with and after the first rise, the best part is the portioned-out dough can sit in the fridge for four or five days before you shape it into a circle and bake it.

My recipe makes 2 twelve to fourteen-inch pizzas or it makes four or five dough balls that can be used to make panuozzo for sandwiching. I prefer the smaller size (five portions of dough).
You can make the dough balls and keep them in the fridge until just before you are ready to bake them.

Once the dough is shaped into form, I put it into a sealed container and stash all the extra dough in the fridge. The dough sat there until I was ready to press it out and bake it. This is part of the magic of yeast and dough.

I shaped five dough balls and baked each for a sandwich for five consecutive days. By the fifth day, the dough performed exactly like it did on the first day.

This was one of the bigger versions I made. It was 190 grams and made a really big sandwich. I stuck with 150-gram sizes after this.
Fold it over and place it on parchment for easy transfer into the hot oven.

This batch of dough will make two 14-inch pizzas, or you can get 4 or 5 pizza sandwiches out of it. If you go for the smaller size, you will end up with five 150-ish gram balls that should shape into a 7-inch round that you can fold into a semi-circle.

My smaller 150-gram sized pizza doughs were easy to transfer with parchment and this extra large grilling spatula.
Our toaster oven came with a pizza stone that I have only used two or three times at this point, but it worked well for these sandwiches and didn’t heat up the whole kitchen quite as much as my oven would.

Too hot for parchment?

Parchment paper is rated for an upper limit in the oven of between 425 and 450 F (218-232 C). I wrote my recipe to be cooked at 450 because a lot of ovens and toaster ovens use that as their upper limit but then at the end of the process, I suggest you flip the oven to broil to finish the cook and brown the top of the pizza dough flatbread.

As you can see below, this might lead to some serious color on your parchment. You should try to remove the parchment before you start the broiler if possible. The parchment is only there to make the pizza dough easy to move into the oven when the dough is soft and uncooked. Once it’s cooked, you should be able to move the cooked dough out of the oven with a spatula or even a pair of tongs.

If you don’t have a pizza stone or pizza steel, a really hot sheet pan can do the trick.
Parchment is fine at 450 F, but once the broiler comes on, you should remove it if you can. This was after 3 or 4 minutes under the broiler.

I don’t have a pizza stone or pizza steel?

You can easily pull this off with a sheet pan if that’s all you have. The photos above are examples of me making this sort of dough in a regular oven with just a sheet pan. The trick is that you need to preheat the sheet pan along with the oven so that it’s very hot. Then you can transfer the parchment papered dough directly to the pan OR you can quickly pull the pan out and put the dough directly on the sheet pan. Just try to move fast so that the pan doesn’t start to cool off too much.

I remove the pizza dough to a cooling rack so that it doesn’t steam itself on a cutting board or plate.
The inside of the dough will be fully cooked, but it will be soft and a tad bit oily from the olive oil used to keep it from sticking to itself.

Not a baker or dough maker? If you don’t want to make your own dough, you can use store-bought pizza dough or you can use the kind of dough you can buy in a tube from Pillsbury. The Pillsbury brand dough tubes are around 390 grams in total weight, so you can easily make two large sandwiches from that amount of dough. You also don’t have to shape these in circles. The tube dough comes out in a big rectangle, so make your sandwich a square or rectangle if you want. Just don’t forget the olive oil that keeps it from sticking to itself during baking.

Below is my pizza dough recipe. There are no instructions in this recipe for making a folded-over dough that is perfect for a panuozzo sandwich but if you’ve read along so far, you can probably figure it out. I do have the whole folded-over dough-making and baking process in the main sandwich recipe below.

24 hours and 34 minutes
New York style pizza dough

This is less of a recipe for pizza and more of a recipe for the dough that I use and how it should be cooked. It's up to you to figure out what you want to top it with, but I think you probably already have an idea.

Get Recipe

Black bean spread

I am a big fan of spreading savory black beans on a sandwich. I shared this recipe in the first few months of this blog, and I haven’t tweaked it or changed it since. It’s very simple but it adds extra flavor to a can of black beans that contributes a savory punch and extra layer of flavor to a sandwich.

The recipe is simply onions, garlic lard, black beans, salt, and pepper and if you are fresh out of lard, you can use olive oil, vegetable shortening, bacon fat, butter, or pretty much any form of fat to cook the onions and garlic.

It’s a photo of a can of beans.

If you want to cut out a step here, you could always buy a can of refried black beans for a similar flavor component to add to this sandwich. You can also leave out the black beans if you want. The chorizo and cheese pack a lot of flavors all by themselves.

20 minutes
Black bean spread

Fantastic with chips or spread on a sandwich, this black bean spread is something I sometimes make for taco night to stand in for refried beans as well. Spread on the bottom of your torta to get some real flavor started.

Get Recipe

Chorizo, onions and queso

The process for making the choriqueso is easy. It’s simply a blend of cooked white onion, chorizo sausage, and shredded, melty cheese.

You cook the diced-up onions first in a bit of olive oil and when they are softened a bit the chorizo goes in. Once the chorizo is fully cooked a bit of shredded cheese is added and 30 or 45 seconds later everything is cooked and cheesy.

The choriqueso cooking process is easy.

If you’ve never had chorizo, it’s typically pork that has been seasoned strongly. The meat takes on a reddish color from the seasoning blend that is used which typically will contain various chili powders and paprika (also a chili powder). The various chorizos that I have tried will be seasoned strongly on the savory side and you can typically find it in hot and mild versions.

I tested both of these brands of “picante” chorizo in my sandwiching this week and other than the color, they were close enough in flavor that I couldn’t pick a winner. You can buy mild versions as well.
Chihuahua cheese is super melty and works great for this application but you could use mozzarella or provolone if you can’t find it.

Don’t like spicy food?

If you’re not a spicy food fan, you can also make this whole sandwich with any other type of ground meat or ground sausage. It’s cooked meat and onions with cheese mixed and melted throughout. Even much leaner meat like ground turkey or chicken would work here as long as the meat was cooked properly and seasoned well with salt and maybe pepper.

Chorizo is typically very red or reddish brown. The seasonings will come out while cooking to stain everything else in the pan.
Once the sausage is cooked, add shredded cheese, and the cooking process is pretty much done.
The cheese is melty and the chorizo and onions are hot and ready for sandwiching.

Green stuff

I sliced some avocado and ripped up some cilantro leaves for most of these sandwiches. If you watched that Rick Bayless video that I linked further up the page you’ll see that he put another green thing in his choriqueso torta and those were pickled jalapeno slices. I forgot to grab some of these and didn’t have any in the fridge so I left them out. But they would be a good addition if you wanted.

Add three or four slices of avocado or you can mash it up if you’d prefer. The cilantro isn’t something that chef Bayless adds to his torta, but I had some and it made a lot of sense to add it to the sandwich. But for those of you who are cilantro haters, it’s easy enough to leave it out.

How the sausage (sandwich) is made

A little behind-the-scenes info here.

One factor during the process of making sandwiches that I can photograph or video for sharing is remembering from day to day which cutting board or backdrop I used for the last version of this sandwich. When the sandwich is a folded over “taco” style sandwich like this one, it’s sometimes hard to photograph on a flat surface. So, I ended up picking up this sandwich for a photo more often than I would if it was something like a grilled cheese sandwich. Believe it or not, the following two photos are two different sandwiches on two different days. I forgot that I already got a similar shot.

Apr 19, Fri, 12:21 PM
ƒ/7.1 1/40 30mm ISO800
Apr 22, Mon, 12:23 PM
ƒ/7.1 1/50 30mm ISO400

At least I’m consistent!

The choriqueso pizza sandwich

Here are a bunch of photos of choriqueso sandwiches that I made this week. The recipe is just beyond the photos if you are looking for that.

Pizza dough is easy to work with, bakes up quickly and turns into a really good flatbread sandwich.
The textures and flavors in this sandwich are fantastic.
I used avocado slices here, but you could easily mash them up or use guacamole for a similar experience.
The best part of the sandwich is how the center of the dough is soft and a little chewy, but the outside has some crunchy texture.
Yet another handheld sandwich with the floor backdrop again!
Not the prettiest cross-section but I had to try.
Choriqueso pizza sandwich view printable page for this recipe

The outside of this cheesy sausage-filled pizza sandwich is crunchy, and the inside is warm, spicy, and comforting with a savory bean spread and creamy avocado. This is a flavor bomb of a handheld sandwich experience.


Pizza dough
  • 450 grams bread flour (3 3/4 cups or all-purpose flour)
  • 12 grams sugar (1 tablespoon)
  • 11 grams salt (2 teaspoons)
  • 3 grams instant yeast (1 teaspoon)
  • 284 grams water (1 1/4 cups)
  • 12 grams vegetable oil (1 tablespoon)
Choriqueso and onions
  • 4 to 6 ounces chorizo
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 14 cup chopped white or yellow onion
  • 14 cup shredded chihuahua or mozzarella cheese
Dough baking and sandwich assembly
  • 1 ball of pizza dough (from above)
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons refried black beans or black bean spread
  • choriqueso (from above)
  • 3 to 4 slices of avocado
  • 1 teaspoon chopped cilantro (garnish - optional)


Make the dough: combine all ingredients in your stand mixer and using the dough hook knead for 6 to 8 minutes or until a smooth dough forms. You can do this by hand as well, just stir to combine everything and knead on a surface for about 8 minutes until you have a smooth dough.

Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly oiled sealed container in your fridge for 1 hour. After an hour, divide the dough into 4 or 5 equal-sized pieces. If you shape it into 4 pieces, the sandwiches will be considerably larger. Shape all your dough pieces into balls and place them in a sealed container in the fridge until ready to use. The dough will work after being in the fridge for up to 5 days.

If you're cooking immediately, leave a dough ball on the counter while you get the chorizo and onions ready.

Choriqueso and onions: preheat your oven to 450 F (230). If you have a pizza stone or pizza steel add it to the oven. Otherwise, place a sheet pan in the oven to heat up while the oven preheats. 

While the oven is preheating add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to a large pan over medium heat. 

When the oil is shimmering, add the diced onions and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. 

Once the onions have cooked a little bit, remove the chorizo from its casing and add it to the pan with the onions. Cook the chorizo for 5 or 6 minutes, stirring often and breaking the meat into smaller pieces. 

After 5 or 6 minutes add the shredded cheese and turn the heat under the pan down to low. Move your pile of chorizo and cheese to the edge of the pan so that it stays warm while you finish the dough baking.

Dough baking: shape one dough ball on the counter with your hands into a circle around 7 inches in diameter. If you chose to make 4 dough balls instead of 5, you should shoot for 9 to 10 inches in diameter. 

Once you have a circle, add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the dough and spread it all around evenly across the top of the dough. Fold it into a semicircle and place it on a piece of parchment paper. The oil helps keep the folded-over part from sticking to itself. This allows you to open it up when fully cooked.

Carefully with a spatula or your hands, transfer the dough on parchment into the oven on top of the pizza stone/steel or hot sheet pan.

Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until the top of the dough is getting puffy and the folded-over part is starting to separate. At this point the dough should be finished baking, but I suggest turning off the oven and turning on the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes to brown the top. Just be careful and don't walk away because it will burn quickly under the broiler. Pull it out when it looks dark enough for your tastes. 

Remove the cooked dough to a rack or plate to cool and get ready to sandwich. 

Sandwich assembly: open the folded pizza dough and spread black beans on the bottom inside of the dough.

Top the beans with the choriqueso mixture and then cover that with avocado slices and cilantro garnish. Serve and enjoy.

This is simply an easy way to make flatbread and turn it into an extra tasty sandwich.

Check back next week

I think I’ll be making and sharing the best fried pork chop biscuit I’ve ever had. Maybe.

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