This dish hails from the Marche region of Italy, specifically Ascoli Piceno, but you can taste a very good version of this appetizer at Perbacco on the lower east side of NYC not far from the old CBGB. I keep experimenting with the fillings. The traditional treatment would be a sausage type, but you can also use cheese. Here, I’m doing both. First you must pit the olives. The traditional method calls for using something like a bird’s beak knife to make an intricate spiral cut to pit and fill the critter. Paula Wolfert will tell you that this is easy. It’s not. It’s faster to use an olive or cherry stoner. Be sure to use big, fat green olives as in Sicilian style. You will get a big mouthful of beatific goodness. —pierino
16 ounces fat green olives
mozzarella or scamorza cheese
sorpressa or other semi-soft, cured Italian sausage
Ground white or black pepper
¼ cup Wondra (superfine flour)
1 whole egg, beaten
1 cup fine, unseasoned bread crumbs
Zest from two lemons
Olive oil for deep frying (you don’t need extra virgin for this, just a good quality oil)
In a food processor, or by hand, chop your sausage until it’s malleable but not a puree
Cut the cheese into pieces that will fit in the olive cavity
Heat the oil in a deep, heavy duty pan or fryolator to 375F
Set up your fry station: in sequence; Wondra combined with ground pepper, beaten egg, bread crumbs
Stuff the olives by hand with the two fillings. DON’T mix the fillings, they are meant to be separate tastes. There are tools that can help you with this step but a chopstick can be of help too.
When the oil is hot roll the stuffed olives first in the Wondra, dip in the egg wash, and roll in the bread crumbs
Fry in the oil for about 2 minutes. Scoop out with a spider, and onto parchment or paper towel. Hit these with lemon zest while still hot. Serve on a platter with toothpicks at the ready. For non-meatarians it should be obvious which is which. This is definitely not a kosher dish.
Standup commis flâneur, and food historian. Pierino's background is in Italian and Spanish cooking but of late he's focused on frozen desserts. He is now finishing his cookbook, MALAVIDA! Can it get worse? Yes, it can. Visit the Malavida Brass Knuckle cooking page at Facebook and your posts are welcome there.