Jerry Traunfeld is my hero. I spent some time in his kitchens during and after culinary school, and both of his cookbooks are my go-to tomes for just about anything. One of my favorite simple appetizers are his "Jump In the Mouths" with a saltimboca flavor profile that will rock your world. Start a night with these paired with your favorite Champagne and you might just get lucky!
Jump in the Mouths
Yield: about 20 pieces
4 oz Italian washed rind Fontina cheese (or sub Gruyere)
2 oz very thinly sliced Prosciutto (5 large slices)
40 ea medium sized sage leaves
2 C all-purpose Flour
2 Tbsp Cornstarch
2 tsp baking powder
2-1/4 Cups ice water
1 Qt vegetable oil for frying
Cut the cheese into slices 3/8” thick and then into rectangles slightly smaller than the size of the sage leave (1/2”x1-1/2”)
Tear or cut off small pieces of prosciutto, approx 2”x3”, and wrap them around the pieces of cheese to completely cover them. This keeps them from leaking out when fried.
Sandwich the packages between two sage leaves of similar size. The leaves won’t adhere until the bundles are dipped in the batter.
Whisk the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder together in a mixing bowl. Pour in the ice water and stir briefly, only to moisten the dry ingredients. The batter should be lumpy. Pour the oil into a 3-qt saucepan and heat it until it read 360° on a deep fry thermometer.
One by one, lift the bundles by holding onto both sage leaves at one end and dip them into the batter. Let the excess batter drip from them for a moment, and then drop them into the hot oil. Fry 6 or 8 at a time until very lightly browned and crisp, about 2 to 3 minutes, flipping them in the oil to brown both sides. Lift them out with a wire skimmer and drain on paper towels. Fry another batch when the oil returns to 360°.
When all the bundles are fried and drained, transfer them to a platter and serve right away.