SARONNO, Italy - This week Auntie Pasta is taking slight detour northeast to Friuli Venezia Giulia. This mountainous region is bordered by Austria on the north, Slovenia (previously Yugoslavia) on the east, the Adriatic Sea on the south, and Italy’s Veneto region to the west.
|Castle of Gorizia|
There is a strong Austrian and Slavic influence in the lifestyle and cooking of the region. Once part of the Republic of Venice, Napoleon gave it to the Austrians as part of a Treaty Agreement in the late 1700’s, and it wasn’t until 1866 that it was again united with Italy. In 1963 the regions of Friuli and Venezia Giulia were combined.
The regional capital, Trieste, was incorporated into the Roman Empire by Julius Caesar in 177 BC. In 2010 it was named Italy’s most livable city. (See post of 6/5/2010 Life: Most Livable City in Italy? Really?).
The cuisine of Friuli is unique, and I doubt you will find a recipe for fried chicken like this one anywhere else in Italy. The crispiness comes from the chicken being double dipped, first in batter and then in egg before it’s fried.
|Crispy Fried Chicken|
Here is my translated version of Fried Chicken alla Friuli Venezia Guilia.
1 three lb chicken, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons of grated Montasio stagionato cheese
1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
oil for frying
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Wash the chicken under running water and then place them in a bowl. Add salt and pepper and the juice of one lemon. Let marinate for about 5 minutes.
While the chicken is marinating prepare the batter. In another bowl, beat three eggs with a fork. Add a little pepper, the breadcrumbs and the grated Montasio cheese and mix until the mixture is smooth. In another bowl (this is bowl number 3) beat the remaining egg and set aside.
Remove the chicken pieces from the lemon marinade, pat dry with paper towels. Dredge the chicken pieces in flower, dip them into the egg batter and then into the beaten egg.
When they are cooked, remove from heat and place on paper towels so excess oil is absorbed. Serve immediately.
A word about Montasio cheese. Friuli is home to Montasio cheese, a mild cow’s milk cheese that tastes a little like Swiss cheese or Asiago. While Montasio may not be as well known as Parmesan, you can use it the same way. Grate it over pasta, added to risottos, or chunk it off and eat it as an appetizer. It is also the cheese of choice for making frico, or fried cheese.
There are three types of Montasio: the most mild and most creamy is Montasio Frescoor; Montasio mezzano is aged a little longer, which makes it a little less creamy with a golden color; and Montasio stagionato or Montasio stravecchio, which is aged the longest and must be grated.
Montasio cheese,originally made in the 1200’s byBenedictine monks in a monastary in Friuli. It was recently awarded the DOP label, which defines its geographic area and let’s you know you are getting an original product. (see Auntie Pasta: PDO, DOP et al, 1/28/2010).
Montasio stravecchio cheese is perfect for making Frico, fried (or baked) cheese crisps that are easy to make and delicious.
|Crispy fried Frico with cumin seeds|
Cheese crisps can be made in a nonstick saute pan one by one, or in batches on baking sheets in the oven. The idea is to just sprinkle enough cheese so that it melts and creates a texture that's lacy but still holds together. Serve as an appetizer or with a green salad. Makes 8 crisps.
1 cup finely shredded or grated Montasio stravecchio
Heat the oven to 375°F.
Cover two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine the cheese and spice.
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the mixture to form a 4- to 4-1/2 inch round.
Spread the cheese evenly with a fork.
Repeat with the rest of the mixture, leaving 2 inches between each round.
Bake each sheet (one at a time) until the crisps just begin to color, 6 to 8 min.
Don't let them fully brown or the cheese will be bitter.
Use a spatula to lift the edges of the crisps and loosen them from the pan.
Remove the crisps and immediately lay them over a rolling pin or the side of a bottle to give them a curved shape.
Or for a flat frico, just transfer to paper towels.
When cooled, if not eaten immediately, you can store them in an airtight container for up to two days.
Expert tip: My Aunt Louise, who is going to be 101 years old in a few months is the undisputed Queen of the Frico makers. She said that she makes hers in a frying pan, one by one, and if you can't find Montasio stravecchio cheese, Parmesan cheese also works very well.
For the latest in fashion news, views and now photos from the fashion capital of the world - follow me on twitpic.com/Italianlife