Polpette Di Pane
“I have always loved exploring street food throughout all the regions of Italy. One of my fondest memories was being at a festival near my family’s hometown in Vallo di Diano, Campania, where I tried a plate of shaved pig’s head served with coarse sea salt and an Amalfi lemon half. It was perfect. I can never resist a lampredotto panino in Florence or olive ascolane in Ascoli; street food will always be such a major part of Italian culture and cuisine. You can find many different variations of this Polpette di Pane (fried bread, finocchiona and pecorino dumplings) throughout southern Italy. Try substituting anchovies for salumi or leave the meat out completely—either way, it will be delicious!”
1¾ cups high-quality bread
200 g finocchiona or any other type of Italian salumi, thinly sliced and cut into strips
¾ cup pecorino fresco (or other soft melting cheese, such as fontina), cut into small cubes
1 cup fresh cow’s-milk ricotta
1 cup grated pecorino romano
Handful Italian parsley, stems removed and roughly chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
Sunflower oil, for deep frying
Lemon wedges, for serving
1. Remove crust from bread and save for another use. Rip crustless bread into large dice-sized pieces.
2. Place bread in a large bowl and add enough milk to just cover. Allow bread to become fully saturated with milk (approximately 5 minutes). Lightly squeeze most of the milk out of the bread. (The bread should still have a little absorbed milk remaining.) Discard or reuse milk as you like.
3. In a separate mixing bowl, add eggs, ricotta, pecorino, parsley and lemon zest. Using a whisk, mix until combined. Add bread to the ricotta mixture. Using your hands, mix together until just combined. Add finocchiona and cubed cheese; mix well. Let rest for 15 minutes or up to 24 hours in the fridge.
4. To make the polpette, form mixture into balls approximately 1½ inches in size. Heat oil in a medium-sized pot to 350°F. Fry polpette in batches (avoid crowding the pot) until golden brown. Remove polpette using a spider or slotted spoon. Serve immediately with a lemon wedge.