Adapted from Italian Street Food by Paola Bacchia
Look for large, green, pitted olives in brine, often labeled “party stuffers” or “stuffers”. They are large enough for this recipe and have a robust texture and great flavor to complement the flavor of the meat stuffing. Because the quantities of the aromatics, meats, and seasonings is small, use a kitchen scale to get the exact quantity of each ingredient. This will eliminate waste and give you just the right amount of ingredients to use for the recipe.
Special equipment: kitchen scale; food processor fitted with the steel blade; oil/candy thermometer
For the stuffed olives
- 50 large, green pitted olives (“party stuffers”), drained and patted dry
- 3–4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 ounce (25 grams) finely diced carrot
- 1 ounce (25 grams) finely diced celery
- 1 ounce (25 grams) finely diced onion
- 2 ¾ ounces (75 grams) ground beef
- 2 ¾ ounces (75 grams) ground pork
- 2 ¾ ounces (75 grams) ground chicken
- ¼ cup (60 mL) white wine
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¾ ounces (20 grams) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- ¼ teaspoon grated lemon zest
- ⅓ ounces (10 grams) crust-less sliced white bread, torn into large pieces
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
For the breadcrumb coating + frying station
- ½ cup all-purpose flour, plus more if necessary
- 2 eggs, beaten with a splash of milk
- ¾ cup plain breadcrumbs, plus more if necessary
- Vegetable oil, for frying
Prepare the olives
- Line a baking sheet with 2-3 layers of paper towels and set it near the sink. Drain the olives through a colander, rinse briefly with cold water, and transfer them to the paper towel-lined baking sheet. Pat dry. Take a sharp paring knife and make a slit down only one side of the olive (from “North Pole to South Pole”) so that you are able to open the olive like a book. Repeat this process until all the olives have been sliced. Set them aside.
Make the filling
- Heat a 12-inch (30 cm) skillet over medium-low heat and add in the olive oil to warm. Add in the carrot, celery, and onion and sauté, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes until soft but not browned. Raise the heat to medium and add in the ground beef, pork, and chicken and use a wooden spoon or spatula to break up the meats, stirring frequently until the meat is browned and cooked through. Turn the heat up to high and pour in the wine. Stir frequently until the wine evaporates and then turn off the heat. Set the pan aside to allow the meat mixture to cool completely.
- Place the cooled meat mixture in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add in the nutmeg, cloves, Parmigiano, lemon zest, bread, and egg. Pulse the mixture several times until the texture looks like a paste. Transfer the mixture to a bowl or container, cover tightly and refrigerate until you are ready to stuff the olives. The meat mixture can be made 1 day in advance, covered tightly, and refrigerated.
To stuff and cook the olives
- Take an olive and use your fingers to open it slightly like a book. Take a small amount of filling (a little more than the size of the pit) and stuff it into the cavity of the olive, then gently wrap the olive flesh around the filling. The olive flesh won’t close completely around the stuffing (see picture above) and that is OK. Repeat this process with the remaining olives until they are all stuffed.
- Line a large platter with a sheet of wax paper. Set it at your breading station. To bread the olives, fill three separate shallow bowls (or pie plates) with the flour, the egg wash, and the breadcrumbs. Dredge the olives (one at a time) first through the flour (shaking off excess), then in the egg wash, and finally in the breadcrumbs (shaking off excess). Transfer the breaded olives to the wax paper-lined platter.
- Line a baking sheet with 3-4 layers of paper towels and set it near the stovetop.
- Fill a heavy-bottomed frying pan (or cast iron skillet) no more than halfway with the vegetable oil and heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches 350℉ (180℃) on an oil/candy thermometer. Alternately, you can test if the oil is hot enough by dropping a very small amount of loose breadcrumbs in the oil to see if they start sizzling right away. Working in batches, carefully lower in several olives at a time, being careful not to over-crowd the pan. Fry the olives for about 1 minute, turning them often so they brown evenly all over. Use a slotted spoon or spider strainer to lift the cooked olives out of the oil and transfer them to the paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Transfer the drained olives to a serving platter or serving bowl and serve immediately. Careful…even if they are warm to the touch on the outside, they are still very hot on the inside!