Friday, March 28, 2008

Chickpea Fritters - Panelle

Panelle or chickpea fritters is supposed to be the street food in Sicily and is served between two pieces of country bread. Gourmet has given the recipe, and although it is a little bit different than the original, it still tastes great.

The recipe has Sicilian sea salt which you can find at Italian markets. It tastes a little bit different than regular table salt. It's harvested from the Mediterranean and dried under the sun. So it isn't refined, and usually is used as cooking salt rather than a table salt. If your sea salt is very granular and pebble like, crush it using the flat side of a large heavy knife or the bottom of a heavy skillet.

And you can also find chickpea flour at Italian or specialty markets.

Although the recipe has Parmesan which I love, provolone worked better for me. See which one you like better.


CHICKPEA FRITTERS - Panelle

Ingredients:

3 cups water
2 cups chickpea flour
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt (preferably Sicilian)
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Special equipment: parchment paper; a deep-fat thermometer

Directions:
Lightly oil an 8- by 4-inch loaf pan (6-cup capacity) and line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang at each end.

Whisk together water, chickpea flour, sea salt, and 2 tablespoons oil in a 2 1/2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan until smooth, then cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (to prevent lumps from forming), until very thick and mixture pulls away from side of pan, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer mixture to loaf pan, smoothing top. Cool, uncovered, then chill, surface of mixture covered with plastic wrap, until firm, at least 3 hours.

Lift chickpea block out of pan using parchment and transfer to a work surface.

Gently flip over block and discard parchment, then pat dry. Cut block crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices for panelle.

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Heat 1/2 inch oil (about 2 cups) in a deep 10-inch heavy skillet until it registers 375°F on thermometer, then fry panelle in 5 batches, carefully turning occasionally with tongs, until golden and puffed, 3 to 5 minutes per batch, and transfer to paper towels to drain. Keep warm on a baking sheet in oven while frying remaining batches.

Arrange panelle on a platter and sprinkle with parsley and cheese. Serve immediately.

Notes:
• To take the temperature of a shallow amount of oil, put bulb in skillet and turn thermometer facedown, resting other end against rim of skillet. Check temperature frequently.
• Chickpea mixture can be chilled in loaf pan up to 1 day.
• Panelle can be fried 4 hours ahead and kept, uncovered, at room temperature. Reheat on a baking sheet in a preheated 350°F oven 10 to 15 minutes.

Makes 10 servings (as part of antipasti).

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