I don’t think it’s a mystery to anyone how much of a Giorgio Locatelli fanboy I am. Of my hoardish cookbook collection, his original book Made in Italy: Food and Stories remains my #1 desert-island book, and the one I most heartily recommend. I love how he writes. I love that the recipes are surprisingly simple for the most part, and convey restaurant-quality results while being targeted to the home cook. He has 8 pages on making the perfect risotto, and after reading it, you will never make risotto the same way again. (I wrote about his stuffed cabbage and nettle risotto last year. That nettle risotto is the first thing we make when the weeds hit the Farmers’ Market in the Spring.)
This past fall, his latest book, Made in Sicily came out. I was so anxious to get it in my greedy hands, I bribed a colleague in the UK (it was released there first) to buy it and shlep it to Spain with her, where we were meeting for a business trip. I could barely remember to greet her cordially before ripping it from her hands.
This book is brilliant. As with his previous books, the recipes are clear, straightforward and unpretentious. He gives you enough of an overview of the region and ingredients for you to absorb some of the hows and whys behind the cuisine, and builds anticipation where you just have to try making the dish. I thought caponata was a ubiquitous Sicilian staple. I had no idea there were so many seasonal varieties (he provides recipes for 5 different variations, including a Christmas version).
The recipe I decided to try first was his recipe for Ramacche, which are prosciutto and cheese fritters. Giorgio’s balls are crispy on the outside, creamy and salty on the inside. They practically explode with flavor once you pop them into your mouth.
What? You guys are sick.
Prosciutto and Cheese Fritters
30g unsalted butter
a small pinch of salt
150g plain flour, plus more as needed
3 large eggs
150g prosciutto crudo, diced
100g caciocavallo or pecorino cheese, grated
2 tsp parsley and garlic*
sunflower oil for deep frying
*For the parsley and garlic, crush 1 clove garlic on a cutting board with the flat of your knife to make a paste. Add about 4 handfuls of flat leaf parsley and chop through the parsley and garlic to intermingle the flavors.
Put the butter and salt into a pan with 220ml of water and bring to the boil, then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour with a wooden spoon. Put the pan back on the heat and work the mixture continuously with the spoon until it comes together in a solid ball of dough. Take off the heat again and let it cool, then put the dough into a food mixer with a paddle, add the eggs one by one and mix until they are all incorporated.
Add the prosciutto, cheese and the parsley and garlic, and continue to mix. The dough will be quite soft.
Heat several centimeters of oil in a pan (make sure the oil comes no higher than a third or the way up). It should be 180 degrees Celsius (355 degrees Farenheit). If you don’t have a thermometer, test that the oil is hot enough by dropping in a little bit of the dough. If it sizzles, the dough is ready.
Moisten a dessert spoon with water, then scoop out little mounds of dough, slide them carefully into the oil and let them fry gently for about two minutes, turning them so they are golden on both sides, and reducing the heat if they start to brown too quickly. Remove the ramacche with a slotted spoon, drain on kitchen paper, and serve hot.