Stuffed Olives Ascolana-style
From Italian Cooking and Living, October/November 2004
Traditionally, the olives are pitted by hand in one continuous piece, so that the olive skin can be wrapped around the filling. Pitted olives are a time-saving alternative.
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
In a large skillet with high sides over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the chicken, pork and veal, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until browned, about 6 to 7 minutes. Add the tomato paste, and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring. Meanwhile, in a blender, purée the tomatoes until smooth, and set aside. Peel the onion, and insert the cloves inside. Add to the skillet, along with the carrots, celery and tomato purée. Lower the heat, and cook for 2 hours. Set aside to cool, and remove and discard the celery, onion and carrots. Meanwhile, rinse the olives in cold water and drain. Using a paring knife, make a vertical incision in the side of each olive, so that it remains in one piece and can be opened. Set aside.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a food processor, along with the cheese, nutmeg, 2 eggs, lemon zest and juice. Pulse until the ingredients are well incorporated, adding some of the tomato sauce from the skillet if the mixture is too dry. Roll the mixture into small balls, and wrap an olive skin around each.
In a deep skillet, warm 3 inches of vegetable oil. In a bowl, beat the remaining 4 eggs. Dredge the stuffed olives in flour, dip in the beaten eggs, and coat with the bread crumbs. Lower the olives into the oil, and fry until golden, about 3 minutes. Remove using a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately. Arrange any uncooked olives on a baking sheet, and freeze, transferring to a zipper bag once frozen. Fry when ready to serve. Serves 12
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, roughly chopped
1 pound ground pork
3/4 pound ground veal
salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup tomato paste
4 cups canned plum tomatoes, strained
1 small onion
2 small carrots, peeled and halved
1 stalk celery, cut into 4 pieces
8 cups large pitted Spanish olives
2 cups grated pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 eggs, divided
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
vegetable oil for frying
flour for dredging
2 cups bread crumbs