Deep-Fried Foods Diners Love
By Kate Leahy for Restaurants and Institutions, 5/1/2009
Excerpts from the article.
Deep-fried, Italian Style
Sondra Bernstein, owner of The Girl & The Fig in Sonoma, Calif., gleaned a couple of fried recipes from Italy as well for her newest restaurant, Estate. On a recent trip, she was served gnocchi fritti instead of bread alongside an antipasti plate at a mom-and-pop restaurant in Emilia Romagna. The gnocchi, made from a simple dough of flour, milk, yeast, salt and water, were cut into squares and deep-fried until they puffed in the center.
“It was really authentic,” Bernstein says. “We weren’t at a fancy top-chef restaurant. It was comfort food.” Bernstein now is working on her own version to replace the grissini she serves with a selection of antipasti at Estate.
1/2 ounce Fresh yeast
10 tablespoons (5/8 cup) tepid water (alternatively use 50% semi-skimmed milk and 50% water)
2 cups 00 flour (unsifted)
1 ounce lard
1 teaspoon Salt
Sunflower oil for deep frying
Crumble the yeast into a large glass bowl; add half the water and mix using your fingers, making certain the yeast is well dissolved. Add two tablespoons of flour to the mix and blend together to obtain a very thin batter. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes so that the yeast can work undisturbed.
Add the remaining flour and the lard. Dissolve the salt in the remaining water and add it to the batter, mixing thoroughly. When your dough is smooth and elastic, form it into a ball, place it in the bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for about three hours. When the gnoccho fritto dough has tripled in volume, transfer it to a work surface and using the rolling pin, make a large disc roughly 5 mm (3/16") thick. Then, using a pastry wheel, cut some rectangles, 10 x 6 cm (4" x 2 1/2") or size of your choice.
Meanwhile, heat the oil to 180-190°C (355-375°F). A deep fat fryer would be a safer option, also because it would be easier to control the temperature.
Fry one or two rectangles at a time so that the oil doesn’t drop its temperature.
When you drop the rectangle into the hot oil you will see that it will stay in the bottom of the pan for just few seconds, then it will float and after few seconds again, it will inflate. Fry each side until they are golden in color. Usually, it takes 30-40 seconds per side, if fried at 190°C (375°F), but it could be less if the temperature of the oil goes up, so stick to the golden colour thing rather than time.
When the gnoccho is golden brown it is ready to remove. Place the rectangles into a large paper towel lined container. Serve with prosciutto, soft cheeses, and salami as an antipasti.