I’m a big fan of good food. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m a gourmet/gastronome (my words of the day, people!), but I really enjoy a tasty, well-prepared meal. And if that meal also happens to be good for you? So much the better. (This is one of the things that makes me relate very well to Tina Fey’s character on 30 Rock, actually.)
That being said, the food I will be covering in this post is in no way good for you. I might be able to get points in the “fresh ingredients” category, but other than that, this food pretty much falls under the umbrella of “what foreigners assume every stereotypical American stuffs their face with on a daily basis”. And those foreigners might be on to something, because these dishes are freaking amazing.
First up: suppli al telefono. My first encounter with suppli was on a tour bus in Rome, when our tour guide described the various dishes we were about to enjoy as part of a “real Italian pizza dinner” excursion. Apparently, in Rome, pizza isn’t something you eat by itself, like we do in America. Instead, pizza is the main course of a very elaborate meal, and I’m guessing suppli is a frequent appetizer for pizza in Rome (fun fact: did you know an entree, at least in France, is actually an appetizer? What we consider an entree is actually called a plat.) I was already an established fan of Italian food, but my casual interest turned to passionate love when I heard about “a ball of fresh mozzarella cheese, covered in risotto, that is then rolled in bread crumbs and deep-fried”. Apparently the al telefono bit refers to the fact that when you bite into it, the cheese strings out like a telephone cord.
This lovely creation is every bit as delicious as it sounds (and if it doesn’t sound delicious to you, then just trust me when I say it is), and I am planning on making some for Chad’s birthday. Here is the recipe I will be using, in case you want to enjoy this delicious treat yourself (I have yet to find a restaurant in America that makes these, but if you know of one, PLEASE tell me. I’m suffering from withdrawals.)
2 cups freshly made or leftover risotto
3/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
4 oz mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 cup)
Vegetable oil or shortening for deep frying
Beat the eggs lightly with a fork until they are just combined. Add the risotto and stir gently but thoroughly, taking care not to mash the rice. Scoop up I tablespoon of the mixture in a spoon, place a cube of mozzarella in the middle, and top with another spoonful of risotto. Press the two spoons together or use your hands to shape a ball. Roll the ball in bread crumbs and place on wax paper. Similarly, shape other balls. The balls may be fried at once, but they are easier to handle if refrigerated for 30 minutes. Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer to 375′. Preheat the oven to 250′, line a large baking dish with paper towels and put the dish in the oven. Fry the balls, 4 or 5 at a time, for about 5 minutes until they are golden brown and the cheese has melted. (The cheese should then resemble “telephone wires” when pulled apart) Transfer to the baking dish to drain. They may be kept warm in the oven for 10 minutes if they must wait.
Then there is chicken and waffles. I met chicken and waffles when I went to the Ciros Speakeasy and Supper Club last Friday for my birthday (AH-MAZING restaurant, you should go if you’re ever in the Tampa area). I was skeptical at first, but my friends Mike and Amanda insisted I try it (they had been converted on a previous trip to the restaurant). I don’t usually mix my sweets and savories, but I’m so glad I went in with an open mind. I can’t say enough good things about this dish. I ate every last bite off my plate and I didn’t want to stop, even after I was full to the point of being sick. The chicken was fried in a way that I can only describe as reminding me of a Chick Fil-A sandwich, the waffle was thin enough to not overpower the meat, and everything was topped with a maple-chipotle gravy. I repeat: maple. chipotle. gravy. If you need evidence that there is a God who loves you, you should really look no further than the fact that someone somewhere was inspired to invent this sauce.
While I can’t find the exact recipe the speakeasy used, here’s a recipe that looks pretty darn good anyway.
For the chicken
4 boneless chicken breast, cut in half
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
4 garlic cloves smashed
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups seasoned unbleached all-purpose flour (flour plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon ground black pepper)
2 large eggs
Canola or peanut oil
Marinate chicken in a plastic bag with first nine ingredients. Store in the refrigerator for at least one hour. When ready to fry, drain the chicken. Dip chicken in egg and then in seasoned flour. Fry in a shallow frying pan with canola or peanut oil 1/3 of the way up your pan. Be sure to use an oil with a high smocking point. It should take about seven to ten minutes for the chicken to get nicely browned. Allow it to then cook in the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes while you make your waffles, maple syrup and gravy.
For the Waffles
(I skipped this part, because I’m honestly just going to use a boxed mix anyway. If you want to make it from scratch, check out the link to the original site that I posted above)
For the Gravy/Sauce
Sweet and Spicy Maple Syrup
1 c. pure maple syrup
4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
2 Chipotle peppers
In a blender combine maple syrup, butter and Chipotle peppers.
Leave 2 tablespoons of the fat from the skillet. Add 2 tablespoons butter and 4 tablespoons flour; blend and cook until golden brown, scraping browned bits from bottom of skillet. Gradually stir in 1 cup milk and 1 cup hot water. Stir until smooth and thickened; add salt and black pepper to taste.
(I think I might try and combine the two somehow, but we’ll see how that goes).
Anyway, that’s it. What with this being the first week of classes, I doubt I’ll have much time to mess around with either recipe, but if I do, I will certainly let you know how it goes. And if you try the recipes, let me know what you think! I hope everyone has a wonderful start to the semester 🙂