Italians love fried little bits…fritti…and the fritti come in many forms. Depending on the region you will often find little street stands or stores that specialize only in Fried Foods. Stop. I see your eyes rolling. Life’s too short not to enjoy a fried treat now and then. The list of Italian fried bits is very long AND delicious but let me introduce you to this one from Sicily. The CAZZILLO. Plural, CAZZILLI. Now pardon my comments here but Sicilians love the bawdy and love things that make you laugh in embarassment. Cazzo is Italian for the male organ…Cazzilli is Sicilian for, well, a little one LOL. Are you embarassed and shocked? The Sicilians have done it again. Have some fun, life’s too short not to laugh a little. This dish combines the Sicilians love of a good joke with a few of their favorite foods, potatoes and cauliflower. VRUOCCULI is actually a type of cauliflower, a little greener than our pure white American Cauliflowers. This CAZZILLI recipe is a version of the typical Sicilian potato croquette combined with mashed cauliflower. Sicilians make their potato croquettes either simply rolled in flour and fried OR breaded and fried. Generally when I’m making a Napoletana style Potato Croquette (Panzarotti) I will bread them. But when making Sicilian ones I don’t bread them. These Cazzilli have a hefty helping of grated Caciocavallo cheese in them. Now Caciocavallo is not available everywhere so instead you can use the more accessible Provolone or Pecorino. See, I”m not going to give you a recipe that you can’t reproduce in your kitchen. Truth be told most cooks in their homes will use what’s on hand to make a dish so it’s fine to use any one of the three. Caciocavallo is most Sicilian. If you have a good cheese store by you see if they carry CACIOCAVALLO RAGUSANO, from Ragusa, Sicily. It’s amazing. Now here’s a few tips. Start with leftover or day old Mashed Potatoes. Many recipes tell you to make it all the same day. No. There’s a magic that happens when a cooked starch sits overnight. Trust me. ItalianAmerican Moms and Grandmothers would make their versions of Potato croquettes usually with leftover mashed potatoes from the day before’s dinner. Same for RiceBalls (Arancini). The end result is just better, and they don’t fall apart. You’ll need 3 cups of mashed potatoes of this recipe. Steam the cauliflower the day before as well. One head of cauliflower for 3 cups of mashed potatoes. When the cauliflower is still warm, mash it well. set it in a strainer and let it drain overnight. OR if you have leftover cauliflower, simply mash it. So those are the starting points for these CAZZILLI. Let’s get cooking now!!
TIME: 24 hours SERVES: 6 (up to 3 per person)
3 cups chilled day-old Mashed Potatoes
1 mashed steamed Cauliflower head
2 beaten eggs
1 1/4 cup grated CACIOCAVALLO or PECORINO or PROVOLONE cheese
2 tbs. All purpose flour
1 tbs. minced flat leaf Italian parsley
salt, fresh ground black pepper
Olive oil for frying
Lemon slices for serving
Simply blend ALL the ingredients and season with salt and lots of black pepper until you can form a small oval shaped croquette, about 2 inches long. Roll each one in flour, and then chill for 1/2 hour. In a large heavy high sided pan (pull out the cast iron skillet for this!) Bring 2 inches of oil to 360 degrees F and start frying the Cazzilli. DON’T CROWD THE PAN!!! 5-6 at a time works well. Fry till golden on all sides, takes about 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. When done frying transfer to a nice serving platter and garnish with lemon slices. They are wonderful hot or at room temperature. Enjoy your CAZZILLI!!! HAPPY COOKING.