Corn Zeppole

By Andrew Feinberg
August 25, 2010
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Food52 Review: These golden nuggets of goodness are Andrew's latest riff on one of Franny's most popular menu items. In the past, he's made zeppole (the base recipe was inspired by a trip to Naples) with spring herbs, artichokes, fennel; with this recipe, he's come up with a quintessential summer combo of corn, chiles and pancetta. Each zeppole -- essentially the Italian version of a doughnut hole -- is impossibly tender within but crunches satisfyingly between your teeth with every bite. The chiles lend just the right amount of heat, and the sweetness of the roasted corn and the saltiness of the pancetta play off of each other perfectly. What's more: you can make these ahead and reheat them -- perfect for cocktail parties! - MThe Editors

Serves: a lot of zeppole (feel free to halve the recipe)

  • 34 grams fresh yeast
  • 300 grams all purpose flour
  • 155 grams fine yellow cornmeal
  • 6 grams salt, plus more for the corn
  • 1 cup raw corn kernels (from about 2 large ears of corn)
  • Olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup diced pancetta
  • 2/3 cup cup finely diced mixed hot chilies (preferably a mix of wax peppers and jalapenos)
  • 2 liters corn or vegetable oil, for frying
  • lemon wedges
  1. To make the zeppole batter, whisk the yeast with 500 grams lukewarm water in a large bowl. Then whisk in the flour, the cornmeal and 6 grams salt, until the batter is smooth. Cover and keep in a warm place for at least an hour. (You can refrigerate the batter for up to 24 hours, but let it come to room temperature before proceeding.)
  2. While the batter is resting, heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the the corn kernels in a bowl with a generous glug of olive oil and a few pinches of salt and pepper and spread evenly on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the corn is golden and caramelized. Set aside to cool.
  3. Put the pancetta in a medium skillet over medium-low heat and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, just until it starts to color (you do not want it too crisp). Transfer to a bowl using a slotted spoon and discard the fat. Let the pancetta cool.
  4. Put the oil in a large pot with high sides (it should come more than halfway up) and heat to 375 degrees. Meanwhile, stir the cooled corn, pancetta and chopped chilies into the risen batter (it should be quite thick). When the oil is hot, carefully drop the batter in heaping tablespoonfuls into the oil, cooking about 6 at a time (do not crowd them). If you have a splatter screen, use it, and be very careful, as the oil may spit. After about 2 minutes, turn the zeppole so that they brown on both sides. When they are golden brown, remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels, sprinkling immediately with salt and pepper. Keep the zeppolein a warm place as you cook the remaining batter. Make sure the zeppole have a chance to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving, as the centers need time to dry out. If you need to, you can reheat them in a 300 degree oven for a few minutes before serving, with lots of lemon wedges for squeezing.

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