No one should be without some Ascolana Olives to celebrate the holiday period and chase out a difficult year. I adore munching on these, they are one of the most unforgettable of Italy’s moreish snacking/antipasti experiences which I miss desperately when I am away. If you have never had an Ascolana Olive now is the time to try the King of stuffed olives.
Expect to find them served as a decadent antipasti across northern Teramo, or treat yourself in beautiful Ascoli to a poke or two of these to accompany you as you walk around its streets, or spoil yourself, sit down at a restaurant and partake in the city’s legendary fritto misto.
Danilo Cortellini, the head chef at the Italian Embassy in London has kindly allowed us to share his recipe from first cookbook, 4 Grosvenor Square, The Menu of the Italian Embassy London.
“Ascoli is a wonderful ancient city close to the border between Marche and Abruzzo. Taking elements from both regions, this dish is a fried heaven of lamb, battered vegetables, sweet custard fritters and olive all’Ascolana; these amazing olives are stuffed with meat, breaded and deep fried to crispy perfection!
“Tradition calls for this recipe to use a quality of olives called tenera ascolana, which are meaty elongated olives infused in brine with fennel and pitted by hand. The crema fritta, a sweet custard used in this recipe, is also breaded and fried. This is a rich course, ideal as a main. It can also be found in street food festivals, as small bites to share like my version. The recipe requires quite a long preparation time, but once the crema fritta and olives are ready, they can be stored in the freezer and kept for later use.
“Let me share a secret, to this day, my mother’s olive all’Ascolana are still unbeaten, which is hard to admit even by me!”
- For the Cremini
- 4 Egg Yolks
- 50g Sugar
- 500ml Milk
- 1 Lemon Zest
- 100g 00 Flour
- Flour, to coat
- 1 egg, for the egg wash
- Breadcrumbs, to coat
- For the Olive all’Ascolana
- 50g Pork Loin
- 50g Lean Beef
- 50g Chicken
- 1 Onion, chopped
- 1 Carrot, chopped
- 1 stick of Celery, chopped
- 3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 small bunch of Sage
- 150ml dry White Wine
- 30g Mortadella di Bologna
- 3 eggs
Pepperand Nutmeg, to taste
- 40g Grana Padano
- 500g Tenere Ascolane Olives
- Flour, to coat
- Breadcrumbs, to coat
- Start with the cremini.
- Beat the egg yolks with the sugar in a mixing bowl until pale. In a saucepan, warm the milk with the lemon zest.
- Pass the flour through a fine sieve to avoid lumps and add it to the egg yolk and sugar mixture.
- Pour the warm milk onto the mixture. Transfer the milk, sugar, egg yolk and flour mixture back to the saucepan and bring it back to the boil for about 2-3 minutes. Stir while cooking, and whisk well to avoid lumps.
- Once ready, remove the lemon zest and pour the hot custard onto a baking tray of 2cm deep.
- Cover with cling film and let it set in the fridge for 2 hours. Once the custard is cold, cut into 3cm cubes. Dust the cubes with flour. Gently dip each cube in the egg wash, and coat with breadcrumbs. Repeat for each cube and set aside.
- Now proceed to prepare the olive all’Ascolana. Start with the filling. Cut each meat into cubes and set aside. In a large saucepan, add a couple of spoons of extra virgin olive oil and start to sweat the chopped vegetables with the sage and a pinch of salt. Once the vegetables are golden, add the meat cubes and roast well. Once golden, pour the dry white wine into the saucepan.
- Allow the alcohol to evaporate and keep cooking with the lid on for a few minutes. Once cooked, remove from the heat and allow to cool down. Remove the sage.
- When cold, mince all the ingredients into a meat mincer with my personal addition of mortadella. Place the mixture into a large bowl, add 1 egg and mix well until it creates a paste. Season with salt, pepper, Grana Padano and a touch of nutmeg.
- Allow to rest for 30 minutes in the fridge.
- Meanwhile, remove the pit from the olives, using a small paring knife. Stuff each olive with the meat filling. Repeat for each olive. Let them rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Dust with flour, dip into the egg wash from the remaining two eggs and coat them in the breadcrumbs.
- Once finished, let them rest in the fridge for a few minutes. In a frying pan, heat the vegetable oil at 180°C and deep fry the stuffed olive and cremini.
- Once golden all over, drain on kitchen paper. Season the
crema frittawith sea salt and serve hot.