Two kinds of cooks entertain at home: those who want guests in their kitchen, and those who don’t. Fried Stuffed Olives are definitely for the former. Filled with pork, salami, mortadella and cheese, these single bites of indulgence may be the perfect antipasto. In my opinion, they’re best still warm, almost hot. Out of the pan and into the mouth, with only a minute or two in between. That means people nearby, glass of wine in hand, paper towel at the ready. Cook, drain, eat. Fun all round.
You may have noticed that we don’t feature many deep-frying recipes. We love deep-frying–especially squash blossoms with chevre and tapenade inside–but we keep it a rare treat, so that we appreciate it all the more when we do. Deep-frying need not necessarily be the cardiovascular or carcinogenic killer that it has been portrayed to be, not if you select the right oil for frying, possess a thermometer, and pay attention to keep the temperature where it’s supposed to be. Writing in the NEW YORK TIMES food section last week Mark Bittman did a fine job of explaining the ins and outs of healthy deep-frying. In a nutshell–pick the right oil and keep it at the right temperature. If you want to know more, click on the link.
For readers who’ve ever had a drink and an order of fried olives at the bar at Rialto, and are wondering, Are these the same? They are. One of the pleasures of Rialto bar anthropology is watching a regular introduce a skeptical newcomer to the olives. Something wicked this way comes. Invariably the newcomer tries one and says “Oh my God!” Ha! Happy Halloween! Enjoy. Ken
FRIED STUFFED OLIVES
Makes 50 stuffed olives
Makes about 50 olives
- 3 ounces fatty ground pork
- 1 ounce minced mortadella
- 1 ounce minced salami
- 1 lemon, zest finely grated, and then cut into 8 wedges, seeds removed
- 1 teaspoon finely grated garlic
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1½ ounces finely grated parmesan cheese
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ pound pitted green olives, about 50 olives
- 2 quarts pure olive oil
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup flour
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- Put the pork, mortadella, salami, lemon zest, garlic, paprika, pepper flakes and parmesan cheese in a bowl. Mix just enough to combine. If you want, cook a little of the mixture in a pan to test for flavor. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. I found I needed neither as the meats, cheese and olives had enough salt and the paprika and pepper flakes provided enough spice.
- Make a slit to open up the olive. Stuff with a bit of the mixture, and then squeeze the two halves together. Continue until all the olives are stuffed. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. This will help the flour stick to the olives.
- Beat the eggs together in a bowl.
- Roll the olives first in the flour, then the eggs and then the crumbs in batches of 10 or so. Transfer to a sheet pan. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Put the oil in a heavy deep-sided pan over medium heat. Bring it up to 350°F.
- Cook the olives in batches of 10 until golden brown and the sausage is cooked through, about 2 minutes. They will bob on the surface when they are done. Using a slotted spoon, scoop them out onto a pan or rack lined with paper towels. Keep warm, if people are eating them immediately.
- Continue until all the olives are cooked. After finishing one batch, allow the oil to come back to 350° before adding the next one. (See my notes below.)
- Serve immediately or at room temperature with the lemon wedges.
There’s nothing not to like about these little babies, unless you don’t eat pork. If that’s the case, use lamb sausage and a cured lamb or beef salami. The filling for the olives is super simple, justa little mincing and grating. If you want to skip the fuss and move directly to frying, use your favorite sausage for the stuffing. Remove it from the casing and fill the olives as above. You can fry all of these up and use them as the last addition to an antipasti platter, but to be honest, they never make it out of our kitchen. We tend toward a very casual style of entertaining, and that means people hanging out where and when the food is cooked. I have never had a guest who hasn’t been eager to step right up as these emerge from the oil.
For more technical detail about deep frying take Ken’s advice and read Mark Bittman’s article. From a practical standpoint, the most important thing is keeping the oil at the right temperature–350°. Too cool and the olives emerge greasy, instead of marvelously crisp on the outside. Too hot, and the oil will smoke, a signal the oil is breaking down, bad for the flavor of the olives and bad for your health. We used evoo, but if you’re concerned about being able to keep things below the smoking point, use pure olive oil, which has a higher smoking point. Which ever you choose, take your time when cooking, allowing the oil to come back up to 350° between batches. People will wait.