Panzerotti alla Romana

Roman Cheese and Ham Fritters

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Probably one of the earliest recipes from the culinary history of the great city of Rome, these rich and savoury dough fritters would traditionally be served as an antipasto or a snack; at some time in their history they were probably cooked as street food and sold from sizzling cauldrons of boiling oil to hungry passers-by. You can vary the contents of the filling according to personal taste; for example, mozzarella or scamorza can be used instead of the Gruyère, and salami or cooked ham could be used instead of the prosciutto crudo.

Ingredients

  • 115 g/4 oz/1 cup finely cubed Gruyère cheese
  • 75 g/3 oz/¾ cup chopped prosciutto crudo
  • 25 ml/1 ½ tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 300 g/11 oz/2 ⅔ cups plain/all-purpose flour
  • 50 g/2 oz/¼ cup unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • sunflower oil, for deep-frying
  • sea salt and ground black pepper

Method

  1. Mix the cubed cheese with the prosciutto, Parmesan cheese and the beaten whole egg. Season with a little salt and ground black pepper, and set aside until required.

  2. Put the flour in a mound on the work surface. Plunge your fist into the middle to make a hollow. Put a pinch of salt, the butter and the egg yolks into the hollow. Blend together with your fingertips, adding 30-45 ml/2-3 tbsp cold water, if necessary.

  3. When you have achieved a smooth ball of dough, roll it out as thinly as possible.
  4. Use a 5cm/2in pastry or cookie cutter or inverted tumbler to cut out circles of dough.
  5. Put a spoonful of the cheese mixture on to each circle and fold in half. Brush the edges with a little beaten egg white, and seal the panzerotti closed.

  6. Heat the oil for deep-frying in a deep pan until a small piece of the pastry, dropped into the oil, sizzles instantly. Fry the panzerotti for 5 minutes, or until golden brown and puffy. Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot.

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