I love “gnocco fritto”, I can’t resist it! There’s probably something written in my Modenese DNA: when I find myself in front of a little basket full of this fried pastry I’m simply happy 😉
Do you know it? Have you ever tried this special Modenese food?
A little bit as Francesca wrote about “tigelle”, I believe that even this special “fried pastry”, called “gnocco fritto”, is a state of mind (that’s why it pairs perfectly with “tigelle”;)). Even the way we refer to this food preparation immediately recalls how this tradition is deeply rooted in my city: Modenese people call it using the article “il” and not “lo”, as the Italian grammar would teach.
But what is “gnocco fritto”?
It’s s traditional fried pastry that in the past was used to substitute bread (as it was for Tigelle).
It is a fried dough, of a rectangular or sometimes a circular shape, unique in its kind. Commonly eaten with cold cuts (for me the first piece is always with greaves sausage or bacon 😉 ) you can also accompany it with cheeses, but also with jams and, once cold, you can have your “perfect Modenese breakfast” dipping it into your cappuccino 🙂
Spread throughout Emilia, this preparation has different names, depending on the city where you are: in Bologna is called “crescentina” – for us call it in this way could create a lot of confusion because the real name of “tigella” is “crescentina” -, in the province of Parma is called “fried cake” and in the province of Ferrara “pinzino”.
Here, in Modena its name is fried pastry (gnòc frètt o gnòcch fritt in Modenese dialect) and prepare it’s an art (so that it exists “The Brotherhood of the Gold Fried Pastry”, a gourmet association that tastes and evaluates the best fried pastry in Modena’s province.
The ingredients for this preparation are very simple, but they can depend on the location and the family.
As other preparations, even for this you can find the original recipe but variants are very common, according to personal tastes and family traditions.
How to prepare it?
With the help of my super grandmother and my super mom I will illustrate you how we usually prepare it. I will show you also a delicious variation that I have not yet figured out exactly where it comes from, I just know that my grandmother prepares it since time.
The doses are not so precise, but this is a classic of a family preparation 😉
Ingredients for 4 people
- 800 gr. of flour
- Some butter
- A pinch of salt
- A glass of sparkling water – di acqua minerale frizzante – at room temperature
- A glass of milk
- Seed oli or lard, for frying
[The original recipe is without butter. Then, the milk, you need to soften the dough, is a variant to water – at my home we use both). The yeast in the Modenese recipe is never used].
On a cutting board or on a work surface put the flour creating a fountain in the center in order to place inside butter, salt and water.
Begin to knead, in order to soften the mixture, then add the milk and continue to work the dough until you get a smooth ball.
You can help yourself with a knife in order to remove the dough from the surface.
Then, let it rest for a while (20-30 minutes) covering it with a plastic wrap or putting it in a cloth.
Once waited the right time, take the dough and roll it out helping yourself with a rolling pin until it becomes very thin (a few millimeters).
Cut the dough with the appropriate wheel or with a knife, usually forming rectangles.
Pay attention: it’s time to speak about the variant that I told before 🙂
Together with fried pastry, we usually prepare “focacce” that are stuffed fried pastry with an half-moon shape.
This preparation is very similar to Italian “panzerotti” and “calzoni” but the dough is the same used for fried pastry.
In order to obtain these circles of dough, we use dishes of different sizes, tracing their circumference: the largest ones are for “focacce” stuffed with mozzarella and salad and the little ones are for those filled with tomato sauce and mozzarella. The stuff is put on one side to allow the fold of the circle. Once folded, with the help of a fork close the dough (this is the reason why the edges are scratched).
Now that we have prepared them, we can fry everything 🙂
In a frying pan heat the oil. Once it has reached the temperature, dip the pieces of dough. As they take a golden color and a bit of volume you can take them out and place on a paper to dry them from the oil.
Now they are ready to be served in a little basket or on a dish.
It’s impossible to resist to this specialities… this is the truth!
Enjoy them 🙂
My story about “Gnocco Fritto” is also on Steller with the video of my beautiful grandma 🙂
Hi, I was also born in Modena but my family migrated to the US in 1970. I miss Italy so much and all my aunts and cousins. My mom has passed away and I’m truing to make a cookbook of all her Italian recipes. Her tortellini, her lasagna her meatballs and so on. I have taste testers that give the thumbs up or down. I have done pretty well so,far but I’m looking forward to more of your recipes. Thank you for sharing.
Hi Daria, thank you for your comment! I’m very glad that you’ve loved my recipe 🙂 The story that you shared is super!