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Olive ascolane – deep-fried stuffed olives

Deep-Fried Stuffed Olives (Olive All’Ascolana)

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One of the most-loved foods from Marche – and one of the best-known, too – olive ascolane or all’ascolana owe their name to the city of Ascoli Piceno. There, a special variety of soft, large green olives has been grown since Roman times, making for one of the finest specialties from the area.

Olive ascolane are traditionally made using these fine local green olives, which are then stuffed with a meat filling, breaded and deep fried.

The local custom would call for olives that are cut in spirals in order to remove the pit. To make the process a tad easier, you can – as I do – use pitted olives cut in half for an equally delicious result.

Olive ascolane are often served as part of series of deep-fried treats –– including crema fritta (fried custard), fried sage leaves, and fritto misto all’ascolana (fried lamb chops, artichokes and courgettes). However, they can also be served as a standalone appetiser or snack alongside your favourite aperitivo.

Ingredients

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Method

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1
In a large skillet, melt the butter with the olive oil. When hot and bubbly, add the chopped carrot, onion and celery and fry gently until softened, about 10 minutes
2
Add the pork and beef mince and brown the meat for about 10 minutes, stirring often
3
Next add the wine and leave it to evaporate. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg
4
Cover and carry on cooking over a low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring often. (Add a little bit of stock or wine if the mixture becomes too dry.) Remove from the heat and set aside
5
Meanwhile, soak the bread in milk until soft. Squeeze out any excess liquid and then tear up the bread
6
Transfer the bread to a food processor together with the meat mixture. Add one egg and the grated Parmesan. Pulse until you have a fine, well-combined mixture. Transfer to a bowl and set aside
7
Stuff the halved olives with a little meat filling and fit the halves back together. Roll them in flour and place on a tray lined with parchment
8
In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg. Dip the olives into the egg, followed by the breadcrumbs
9
Heat the sunflower oil in a high-edged frying pan until it reaches 180°C. Once the oil has reached the right temperature, begin frying the olives in batches. Fry them for about 5 minutes, or until deeply golden on all sides
10
Drain them with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat in batches. Serve hot, sprinkled with salt
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