Olive Ascolana (Stuffed Ascoli Olives)
Olive ascolana. These amazing little delights are a speciality Italian food of our region, Le Marche. It is unlikely you will have found them anywhere else in Italy, never mind the rest of the world. The only ingredient that you will find difficult to get hold of is the Ascoli olives themselves. You might be lucky if you have a good Italian food deli nearby and more and more large supermarkets stock large green olives which will be ok, failing that Ascoli Olives can be bought online. If you can’t get hold of the olives then there is another alternative, try the “Faggotini” recipe on this blog – it uses the same stuffing ingredients and is as good in its way.
Ascolane fritta are served with apperitivi, as antipasti or eaten as street food. In the best Italian food traditions, these little devils take patience and care, the results though are worth the effort.
1000g Ascoli Olives (large green olives)
for the stuffing:
100g each of beef, pork and chicken or ohter white meat, all cut into small cubes
half an onion, a carrot and stick of celery
50g freshly grated parmesan
50g fresh breadcrums
to flavour – salt, pepper, nutmeg and cloves
splash of white wine
for the frying:
plain flour and fine breadcrumbs for coating
Cook the onions in the oil until translucent, add the meats and vegetables and brown. Add the flavourings and the wine put on a lid and simmer for a hour or so on a low heat. Add a little water if it gets too dry. Allow the mixture to cool.
While the meats are cooking prepare the olives. Use a small sharp knife to “peel” the olive from the stone in one continuous spiral – like peeling an apple in a spiral when you were a kid and had to get it all off in one go – you did do that didn’t you? Anyway you need to cut close to the stone and try to keep the section a similar size as you peel it from the stone. Be careful how you handle the spiral so as not to break it. As you put it down it should take up its original “olive” form.
Back to the stuffing: mince the cooked meats etc in a mincer or food processor to a reasonably fine consistency, mix in the fresh breadcrumbs, parmesan and 2 eggs and squish it with your fingers until combined into a homogenous mush that sticks together.
Now take an olive “skin” and a small piece of the stuffing, about the size of the stone you removed and place this inside the spiral and carefully reform to the olive shape. when all the olives are stuffed dip them one at a time in flour, egg and breadcrumbs. You can repeat this process if you like a good crumb on your olives. once they are all coated you can wait until you are ready to fry them, alternatively they freeze well at this stage.
To deep fry, get your sunflower oil to 200 degrees C and place in a few olives at a time, drain on kitchen roll when golden brown. They will stay warm for 30 mins or so, they can also be eaten cold, but not quite so delicious as freshly cooked, Italian food to die for!