Gnoccho Fritto con Affetati
My mother taught me at a very young age how to eat and still maintain the integrity of one’s lipstick.
So, when Signor Morandi served me my first plate of gnoccho fritto in Modena, Italy, and I picked up a knife and fork, you can imagine his expression. He patiently showed me how to fold it, proving that the integrity of his gnocchi far outweighed the integrity of my lipstick.
Gnoccho Fritto con Affetati – literally translated: knot or lump fried with salami.
The more detailed translation: Small squares of dough that puff into light, hollow, airy pillows when deep-fried. The crust is thin, golden and cracker-like, with a little give that consents to folding without crumbling. These gnocchi are usually topped right out of the hot fat with thinly-sliced cured meats (prosciutto, prosciutto cotto and various salamis), which are then folded like a sandwich and eaten warm. The heat slightly melds the fat-laced prosciutto with the warm pastry — it’s quite a rich textural experience.
Not always getting great results with other recipes, I experimented a while and created a recipe I love. It’s not for the faint-hearted, even with olive oil replacing the lard. But, it’s a very easy process. And good news for those who don’t have the best of luck with yeasted projects, gnoccho fritto is rolled and fried – no unforgiving rising sequence or rebellious gluten. Just remember to leave the flatware in the drawer, gnoccho fritto tastes better folded over, plus, you don’t lose your salami.
Gnoccho Fritto con Affetati
makes about 50
2-2/3 cup flour, plus more for rolling process
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons yeast
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for bowl
Canola oil, to fry
In medium bowl whisk together flour, soda and salt; set aside.
Heat milk to lukewarm in small saucepan over medium heat; stir in yeast and let rest for a minute. Pour mixture into bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle; add olive oil. While mixer is on low speed, gradually add in three-quarters of the flour mixture. When flour is incorporated, turn mixer to medium speed and process for 3 minutes, until dough is smooth. Exchange the paddle with a dough hook. Add remaining flour mixture and process at medium speed for another 2 minutes, until dough is smooth. Turn dough out into lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rest 45 minutes to an hour.
Pour enough canola oil into a medium saucepan to come 3” up the sides; heat to 350°.
Gently cut off a quarter of the dough, leaving the remaining dough in the covered bowl. Using a rolling pin, roll dough to about 1/4” thickness, using extra flour as needed. Alternately, roll dough through the first setting of a pasta machine a few times. For best results, cover rolled out dough with a kitchen towel and let rest for a couple minutes, just to relax the gluten once more. Using a pizza wheel, cut dough into 2” by 2” squares.
Fry a couple at a time in oil, turning with tongs, until gnocchi golden on both sides and cooked through. Transfer to paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Keep gnocchi warm in 200° oven. Repeat with remaining dough.
Top each gnocchi with thinly sliced prosciutto, prosciutto cotto or salami. Serve warm.