Bomboloni al Prosciutto
I know! Incredible! After an underwhelming first recipe, this is the second – and far more successful – thing I made from Oggi Cucini Tu, that ridiculous Italian cookbook filled with incredible sounding things and completely void of the pictures which usually constitute 75 percent of my reasoning for looking at a cookbook. The original recipe, entitled Bomboloni alla mortadella, caught my eye and even though I cringed at the inevitable splatter of deep-frying, I couldn’t get it out of my mind.
Even the name sounds delicious, no matter how you say it. Bomboloni alla mortadella. Bomboloni al prosciutto. Bomboloni ripieni. Savory Doughnuts. Doughnuts with Prosciutto and Fontina. Potato Doughnuts. Stuffed Savory Doughnuts. Deep Fried Potato Doughnuts Stuffed With Prosciutto and Fontina.
Fortunately, the real thing turned out just as I’d imagined: crispy exterior with a pillowly, potato dough and melted cheese inside. Surprisingly not greasy, they opened the birthday meal in a very impressive way, if I do say so myself.
Like the first recipe, the instructions were frustratingly and typically vague: “boil the potato and mash it;” “add enough flour to make the dough the consistency of gnocchi dough.” But, despite my anglophone preference for exacting, overbearing recipes to guide me through unknowns such as deep fried savory doughnuts, they turned out, well, just as good as they sound.
BOMBOLONI AL PROSCIUTTO
So please, ignore the poor quality of my photos (we were hungry!), ignore any fears you may have about deep-frying (there was no splatter!), and make these doughnuts. From start to finish, they take about 30 minutes to make, and 30 seconds to eat. You can make the dough an hour or so before serving, and just fry them up when you’re ready to serve. You can stuff with anything you want: the book recommends little chunks of mortadella and fontina or cooked eggplant and smoked provola. I used prosciutto crudo and fontina, and would definitely make them this way again. The only thing I would change is add a side serving of tomato sauce for dipping.
Recipe adapted from Oggi Cucini Tu. Makes 8-10 doughnuts.
1 potato, the size of your fist (mine weighed 7 ounces unpeeled)
1 packet yeast (or 10 grams lievito di birra)
2-3 teaspoons milk
200 grams (about 1 1/2 cups) flour
fillings: fontina cheese, in small chunks; prosciutto crudo
peanut oil for frying
Peel the potato and boil it in salted water until very soft, about 30 minutes. Drain out the water and mash the potato. Let it cool.
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the milk. After a minute or two, add the cooled potato and the egg, mix well so there are no clumps. Add the flour, adding enough to make it the consistency of gnocchi dough (I didn’t know what this was supposed to be like, either, but 1 1/2 cups flour worked well for me). Sprinkle the dough with salt. Use your hands to form the dough into a ball, knead it a few times in the bowl or on a lightly floured surface.
On a work surface, use your hands to roll the dough into a long sausage about 2″ in diameter. Slice the roll into 8-10 pieces, depending on how many doughnuts you want. Form each piece into a little ball. At this point you can let them rest for a while, or continue on.
Form each ball into a little cup, place inside a piece of cheese and a piece of prosciutto (or whatever fillings you use), and close up the cup. Allow the stuffed balls to sit on a tray lined with baking paper for at least 10 minutes, up to an hour. They will increase in size.
When you’re ready to serve, fill a large pot or pan with high sides with 2″ peanut oil and heat over low. When oil is heated, the dougnnut will sizzle when placed in. Fry each ball for 2-4 minutes, turning over halfway if the oil doesn’t completely cover the doughnuts. (This will take a few batches depending on the size of your pan). Be careful not to brown too much. I covered the pan to help the cheese melt.
When lightly browned all over, remove doughnuts and allow to cool for a minute or two on a paper towel. Serve immediately with plain tomato sauce if desired.