Coste di Biete Farcite e Fritte

Fried Stuffed Swiss Chard Stalks

Preparation info

  • For

    4 to 6

    Persons

    Appears in

    Marcella's Italian Kitchen

    Marcella's Italian Kitchen

    By Marcella Hazan

    Published 1986

    • About

    There is very little one can’t coax Swiss chard into doing. Here pairs of stalks trimmed to size are used to sandwich a mixture of béchamel, ham, egg, and Parmesan, then they are breaded and fried. What gives this novel vegetable sandwich elegant interest is the alternation of textures: the coating crisp over the juicy stalk, which encloses, in turn, the melting spread of béchamel and ham.

    Ingredients

    • pounds Swiss chard with broad, thick stalks

    Method

    1. Detach the green tops from the Swiss chard stalks. Set them aside to use for any recipe calling for Swiss chard greens (The Classic Italian Cook Book, pages 164 and 414, or More Classic Italian Cooking, page 390).
    2. Trim the stalks into rectangles. Wash in cold water and boil in unsalted water until they are barely tender but still firm. Drain and set aside to cool.
    3. Make the béchamel as described. In a bowl, combine the béchamel with the ham, grated cheese, and 1 egg. Stir, mixing the ingredients into a homogeneous mass, and set aside to let the béchamel cool completely.
    4. Pair off the stalks that are most nearly equal in width, then trim them so that they coincide in length. If an odd stalk is left over, cut it in half and trim it to make a pair.
    5. On one of each of the paired stalks spread a little of the béchamel mixture, a bit less than ¼ inch thick. Top with the matching half of the pair, making a sandwich.
    6. Beat the remaining egg lightly in a deep dish. Dip each stuffed pair of stalks in the egg, first on one side then the other. After dipping in the egg, place in the bread crumbs, turn the pair of stalks over, and press it into the bread crumbs with the palm of your hand to make the coating adhere tightly. As each pair of stalks is dipped and breaded, transfer it to a clean platter.
    7. In a skillet put enough vegetable oil to come at least ½ inch up the side of the pan and turn on the heat to high. When the oil is very hot, slip the stalks into the pan, no more at one time than will fit without crowding. Fry them on one side until it becomes colored a golden brown, then turn them over and do the other side. Transfer them to a draining rack or to a platter covered with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve while piping hot.