After frying up a batch of these Fried Stuffed Olives from David Leite's The New Portuguese Table, I hereby nominate them for a place in the bar snack hall of fame. Olives, cheese, cured pork, and roasted almonds make appearances at the cocktail hour spread, but not enough like this. Stuffing the juicy green olives with all the savory components leads to fantastic results but, breading and frying them after they've been stuffed? They might just be one of the best things that I've ever eaten before dinner.
Leite gives many options for stuffing your olives. Tiny chunks of Serrano ham get warmed just enough to start rendering a little of their fat, infusing the olives with a touch of porky flavor. Slivers of sheep's milk cheese melted and oozed into the center of the olives. The olive oil packed tuna stuffed olives brought to mind a Niçoise salad, and the almonds provided a nutty richness. But the most exciting part about these olives is that once fried, they all look identical which means that you never know what filling you are getting when you dive into the bowl.
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The New Portuguese Table to give away this week.
- For the olives:
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 3/4 cup dried bread crumbs
- 40 green or black brined olives, such as Manzanilla, Kalamata, Gaeta, or Niçoise, drained and pitted
- For the stuffing—Your choice of:
- Shards of cooked salt cod, drained canned tuna in oil, presunto, Serrano ham, or proscuitto
- Minced hard-boiled egg
- Firm sheep's-milk cheese, such as Nisa, Évora, or Percorino Toscano
- Roasted Almonds
- Vegetable oil, for deep frying
- Lemon wedges, for serving
Fill three bowls, from left to right, with the flour, eggs, and bread crumbs. Stuff the olives with your choice of fillings.
Spear and olive with a toothpick and twirl it in the flour to coat evenly, swirl it in the egg, and then roll it in the bread crumbs. Use a fork to pop it off the toothpick onto a plate. Repeat until all of the olives are crumbed. Those who like to get their hands dirty can eschew the toothpick.
Heat 1 1/2 inches of oil in a medium saucepan until it reaches 350°F on a deep-fat thermometer or a candy thermometer. Place a few of the olives at a time in the bowl of a slotted metal spoon and lower them into the oil. Fry in batches until golden brown, less than 1 minute. Fish out the olives with a spoon and transfer them to paper towels. Spritz them with lemon while sizzling, if you like. Serve hot.