Fried Stuffed Olives
With a Crispy Surface and Salty, Tender Interior
From Pozzo della Mensa, a former restaurant in Assisi, Italy.
- Servings: Makes 30 olives.
I first tasted fried stuffed olives on one of my first trips to Italy. We were in a tiny neighborhood restaurant in Assisi called Pozzo della Mensa and intrigued by the idea of fried olives, I order them as a first course. Soon a small plate arrived before me, lined with a paper napkin, holding six large crispy olives. As I put the first into my mouth I tasted a remarkable combination of salt, heat, spicy sausage and oiliness. It was perfect.
I couldn't get the taste out of my brain and when I came home, I wrote to Gourmet magazine which miraculously got the recipe for me. The restaurant has since been sold and turned into a panini bar and the olives are no longer on the menu. That may be tragic for the folks in Assisi, but you can make them yourself.
The inconvenience of this recipe is that the olives really need to be fried just before they're served because they're best eaten when still very warm. If your guests don't mind you being in the kitchen as cocktails are poured, they'll thank you later for the extra effort.
- 30 large pitted green olives
- 1/4 pound sweet Italian sausage removed from its casing
- 1/4 pound lean ground veal
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1 cup dry, fine bread crumbs
- 2 eggs
- Chopped parsley
- Flour for dredging
- Vegetable oil for frying
- In a skillet or sauté pan, melt the butter over moderate heat.
- Crumble together and combine the sausage meat and ground veal and add to the melted butter, cooking over a medium heat, lightly browning it enough to cook the meat through but don't overcook it.
- Add the wine and continue to cook over medium heat until the liquid cooks off.
- Add the chicken stock and simmer for 5 minutes. Most of the chicken stock will reduce.
- Transfer the cooked meat to a food processor. Add 2 tablespoons of the bread crumbs, the chopped parsley, salt, pepper and one whole egg. Pulse to combine and to the point that the mixture is like a coarse paste.
- Rinse the olives and dry completely with a paper towel.
- Using a small spoon or pastry bag with a tip, fill each olive with about a teaspoon of the meat mixture, filling the cavity but don't over-fill as the stuffing will come out when cooked.
- Set up a series of small bowls to prepare the olives for frying by putting some flour in one, the remaining egg in a second, and the remaining bread crumbs in the third bowl. With a fork, mix the egg, adding about 1 tablespoon of water to dilute.
- Dredge each olive in flour, dip it in the beaten egg, and then roll in bread crumbs, shaking off any excess.
- Fry the breaded olives in about a half-inch of hot oil (160 - 180º F) for about 10 minutes or until crispy and golden brown.
- Transfer first to a paper towel and then to a serving plate.
- Serve hot.
Tip: If you can't find large pitted olives, buy large olives that are stuffed with pimentos which you can remove and discard. Don't try to pit olives yourself because you won't be able to create a sufficient cavity for the filling.