Known as ‘Olive Ascolane’ in Italian, the dish ‘Fried Stuffed Olives’ originated in Ascoli Piceno, a town located in the region of Marche, in central Italy. It’s a popular street food that’s made of fried green olives with a mix of ground meat as stuffing — and as is the case with Italian street food like ‘Panelle’ (Sicilian Chickpea Fritters), it’s best eaten while it’s PIPING HOT! YUM!
Although this dish originated in central Italy, you normally find them nowadays in every part of the country, even in southern Italy. They might vary the kind of green olives that they use, as well as the mixture of ground meat. But the final result is always the same, the olives are stuffed, coated and fried.
When I prepare ‘Fried Stuffed Olives’ in Stockholm, I prefer to use ‘Cerignola’ – because they’re the biggest green olives that I can find. You can use ‘Castelvetrano’, if you want; those are the normal type that I see for snacking (at least here in Stockholm). I tried that once, suffice it to say, I’d rather not do it again. My hands and fingers (literally) got numbed. (I know, I should not complain if I want to eat them, right?!)
Also, since I can only find pitted ‘Cerignola’ here in Stockholm, I just cut them on one side to prepare for the stuffing. They’re not so fragile that you have to be very careful when putting the mixture – but you do need to handle them with a bit of care to avoid snapping the whole olive in half. There is one more thing that I NEVER fail to do with ‘Fried Stuffed Olives’, I ALWAYS soak the olives in cold water for at least 30 minutes before draining and stuffing them. This is to lessen the ‘briny’ taste in them. If you can find fresh olives in your part of the world, I hate you. Kidding! 🙂 You are SO lucky! Just peel them like an apple, that is, in circular pattern – and that’s even better for stuffing.
Now, admittedly, preparing ‘Fried Stuffed Olives’ does take a bit of time (and patience). But it is worth it, especially if you have friends coming over. Serve them as an appetizer or a snack and they’re always going to be a HIT!
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 small onion, sliced thinly
- 125 grams combination of ground beef & ground pork
- 1 small carrot, diced
- 1 stalk celery, sliced thinly
- 1/4 cup red wine or broth
- 5 eggs, beaten
- 2 & 1/2 cups fine breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated
- 1 lemon, grated zest
- 1 cup flour
- 50 pieces green olives, pitted and ready for stuffing
- 2 & 1/2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
- dash pepperoncino (chili flakes)
- salt and pepper to season
In a medium sized pan, heat up olive oil. Once ready, add garlic and onion. Cook until soft.
Add carrot and celery. Cook until slightly soft. Add ground pork and ground beef. Cook until meat has changed color.
Add wine or broth. Let liquid evaporate. Cover, turn heat to low and let meat cook.
Add pepperoncino and season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.
Once the meat mixture has cooled, blitz in a blender or food processor and transfer in a bowl.
Add 2 tbsp of beaten egg, lemon zest, ¼ cup of parmigiano reggiano and ¼ cup of breadcrumbs. Mix. If the mixture is too wet, add more breadcrumbs until the mixture sticks together. It should not be too dry either. I normally do not go beyond an extra ¼ cup of breadcrumbs.
Take a small piece of the mixture and put inside each piece of green olive.
Heat up the vegetable oil in a medium to large frying pan.
Coat each piece of stuffed olive with the following -- flour, egg, breadcrumbs, egg and breadcrumbs. If you want your olive to have a thinner coating, you can skip repeating the eggs and breadcrumbs.
Once the vegetable oil is extremely hot, fry stuffed olives in batches. Do not crowd the pot.
As soon as the coated olives turn brown in color, take them off the oil and let rest in paper towel to absorb excess oil.
Transfer in another plate and serve while hot.