Must-Eat Foods

Italy: Deep-Fried Olives

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.


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.

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