The best version of these wonderful olives come from a town called Ascoli Piceno, high in the hills of central Le Marche, Italy, where they sell them in paper cones on the street. Using chicken, veal and pork mince, stuffed olives are not only quite delicious, they’re also quite complicated to make, so I’ve simplified them for the home cook. Even then, being small, stuffed and fried, they’re a bit fiddly. But if you have the inclination, and a party to cater for, then why not serve something mouth-wateringly good?
- 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra, to deep-fry
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 1 small tomato, halved, pulp removed and discarded, chopped
- 300 g finely minced pork neck or pork belly
- 1 tbsp grated parmesan
- ½ tsp grated nutmeg
- 2 eggs, 1 lightly beaten
- 50 large green olives, pitted
- 100 g (⅔ cup) plain flour
- 200 g (2 cups) dried breadcrumbs
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened but not coloured. Add tomato and cook for 2 minutes or until almost all of the liquid is evaporated.
Transfer to a food processor and pulse until mixture is fine, but not a paste. Set aside.
Wipe pan clean and heat over medium-high heat. Add one-third of the minced pork to the pan and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, for 4 minutes or until browned, adding olive oil if needed.
Transfer minced pork to a bowl with onion mixture, remaining 200 g uncooked mince, parmesan, nutmeg and 1 whole egg. Using your hands, mix until all ingredients are combined. Season with salt and pepper but, remember, the olives will be salty, too.
Spoon mince mixture into a piping bag fitted with a fine nozzle and pipe mixture into olives. Place flour, lightly beaten egg and breadcrumbs in separate shallow bowls. Dust each olive with flour, shaking off excess, then dip in egg and coat in breadcrumbs.
Fill a deep-fryer or large saucepan one-third full with oil and heat over medium heat to 170°C (or until a cube of bread turns golden in 15 seconds). Working in batches, gently drop olives into the oil and fry, turning halfway, for 4 minutes or until crisp and golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Serve hot.
Photography Alan Benson
As seen in Feast magazine, Dec/Jan 2013, Issue 27. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.