Saturday, March 01, 2014

Fritter Chronicles: Tuna or Kale, It's All Good!

Contributor Jim Dixon of Real Good Food is a fritter fanatic, and he's back on track sharing his recipes for some phenomenal fritter satisfaction.

Sicilian Fritters with Oregon Albacore (Polpette di Tonno con Fiore di Finocchio)

These small tuna won’t be running for another 6 months, but Oregon albacore in a can or jar* is in season all year. Buy it canned in its own juice (and don’t drain it off!). If you can’t find any at your favorite market, order directly from the folks who catch it. In Sicily a mix of tuna and swordfish often goes into these, but they’re great with just the canned albacore.

At the fish market in Palermo.

Dump the fish and the juices in the can into a bowl and flake it with a fork. For each can of fish (typically 6-7 ounces), mix in an egg, a chopped shallot, about a tablespoon of bread crumbs, pinch of salt, and a teaspoon or so of fennel pollen (fiore, flower, in Italian). If the mixture seems dry, add another egg.

Use two soup spoons to form walnut-sized “meatballs.” I make mine more flat than round, but only because it’s a little easier than rolling them into balls. Pan fry in extra virgin olive oil until brown. Traditionally served in a simple tomato sauce, they’re pretty good plain.

* Sweet Creek Foods also has Oregon albacore, and is available at New Seasons and other markets.

Kale Fritters

These are the best thing to do with leftover cooked vegetables of any kind. But it's also pretty easy to drop a bunch of greens in a pot of boiling water. Any of the leafy kales—green, red, or Italian—work well, but I prefer the Italian for both flavor and texture. Drop a bunch into a pot of salted water and cook for about 5 minutes (or microwave for a few minutes). You want the kale wilted and partially cooked.

Kale fritters frying in olive oil.

Chop the kale into small pieces, the stem ends even smaller than the leafy ends. Use the whole stem, but make sure the thicker pieces are chopped small. You can do it in the processor, but I think the hand-cut texture is much better.

Combine the chopped kale in bowl with about a quarter cup of breadcrumbs, roughly the same amount of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, 2-3 cloves of minced garlic, a nice pinch of salt and a couple of eggs. Mix well, then see if you can form a small, walnut-sized fritter using two soup spoons. If it won’t hold together, add another egg or two (and if it’s really soupy, more breadcrumbs).

Use the two spoons (the classic quenelle technique) to make the fritters, sliding each into hot extra virgin olive oil as you make it. Gently flatten each fritter, cook over medium until nicely browned, then flip and cook the other side. Sprinkle with flor de sal after they come out of the pan. These are good hot or cold, and they reheat in a skillet nicely. A little Crystal hot sauce is a nice touch.

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