PANZAROTTI NAPOLETANI!! Potato Croquettes made Naples style, Grandma Scaramuzzi and my mom Assunta “Sue”Battaglia’s style could be one of my most favorite foods on Earth! Grandma Scaramuzzi taught her daughter (my mom) how to make these culinary delights from the city she lived in before she immigrated to Staten Island NYC to marry my grandfather. Now let’s discuss the word PANZAROTTO/PANZAROTTI (plural) shall we? In every other part of Italy a Panzarotto is a “pouch” of filled dough. They are baked or fried and depending on the region will be filled with all sorts of vegetables, cheeses, and meats. Google PANZAROTTI PUGLIESI and you’ll see what I mean. But for some reason, and this happens all over Italy one word will have a million different meanings regarding food. In the language and dialect of Naples Panzarotti means a fried Potato croquette. Growing up I watched Mom make these and she had a specific way of making them. First of all they usually were a way of using up leftover mashed potatoes. Certainly she’d make them on their own as well but NEVER with potatoes cooked the same day. Something happens to the potatoes when you cook and mash them on day one and on day two form the Panzarotti and fry them. She had some rules. Only bits of diced mozzarella, not too much. Lots of Pecorino and black pepper in the mix. Only egg yolks in the mix. The whites would be for later when breading. And the breading always PLAIN breadcrumbs, not the Italian Seasoned type. Are you with me here? Are you ready to take a stroll down the streets of Napoli and eat the foods that are sold in the Fry shops? For those who want to be further confused they are also called CROCCHE’ DI PATATE and if you go to Sicily, they are called CAZZILLI where they can be either fried without the breading or with the breading. Confused yet? Don’t be…Italian and Italianamerican cuisine has lots of variations, twists and turns. Whenever I decide to blog a new recipe or a traditional family recipe I do lots of research to see if my family simply creating these rules on their own or if they are following a hallowed ritual. Happy to report that mostly all the recipes from Napoli I’ve researched dip the floured formed Panzarotti in beaten EGG WHITES and then into PLAIN BREADCRUMBS. Moral of the story…don’t ever disagree with a Napoletana Mother and Grandmother!!!
PANZAROTTI NAPOLETANA NAPLES STYLE POTATO CROQUETTES YIELD ABOUT 24
3 LBS RUSSET BAKING POTATOES PEELED AND CUT INTO QUARTERS
3/4 LB MOZZARELLA DICED SMALL
1/2 TSP. KOSHER SALT
3/4 CUP FRESHLY GRATED PECORINO ROMANO OR PARMIGIANO (MOM USED THE PECORINO)
1/2 TSP. GROUND BLACK PEPPER
1/4 CUP FINELY MINCED ITALIAN FLAT LEAF PARSLEY
1 WHOLE EGG AND 2 YOLKS, RESERVING THE EGG WHITES FOR BREADING
1 CUP UNSEASONED ITALIAN BREADCRUMBS
1/2 CUP TIPO 00 FLOUR OR 1/2 CUP SIFTED AP UNBLEACHED FLOUR FOR DREDGING
3 CUPS OLIVE OIL, PEANUT OIL, OR CORN OIL (WE PAN FRY OURS)
First we make the potatoes. In a large pot filled with well salted water and bring to a GENTLE boil then simmer for at least 15-20 minutes. Do not overcook. When a fork easily pierces the potatoes they are done. Drain the potatoes and place on a FLAT pan in one layer. Let this cool to room temperature, then cover with foil and refrigerate for no less than 5 hours, preferably overnight. Trust me. Then bring them back to room temperature and mash or rice them. Beat the whole egg and yolks. After you’ve mashed the potatoes, add the eggs, the cheeses, parsley, salt and pepper. Blend well making sure your mixture isn’t too wet or sticky. If so a little flour will tighten that up, just a little. Now form the mix into about 24 equal sized panzarotti. About 3 1/2-4 inches long in the shape of a cylinder. Place on a baker’s pan lined with parchment. Loosely cover and chill for 1/2 hour. Now set up a station of the flour….then the beaten EGG WHITES…then the breadcrumbs. Gently dredge the croquettes in the flour,, then into the eggs carefully letting the excess drip off, then into the breadcrumbs, make sure they are completely coated. Line back up on a parchment paper coated tray. Heat 3 /4 in of oil till it gets to hot, about 350 degrees F or when you place a cube of bread in it the cube sizzles and starts to brown. Gently add the croquettes no more than 5-6 at a time DO NOT CROWD THE PAN!!! Use a heavy high sided wide one. When one side is done, takes about 2 1/2 minutes or less per side, turn gently. When all golden brown you are done. Transfer to either a cooking rack or lots of paper towels. Add more oil and wait between batches to let the oil come up to temperature again. There’s a nice amount of mozzarella in there so you maybe have a little mozzarella burst thru but if you don’t overfry you should be fine.
Serve them immediately, or you can reheat them when ready to serve uncovered in a hot oven for only a few minutes. Here’s some other ingredients you can add….Provolone, thin strips or fine dice of sopressata, dry sausage, salami, prosciutto. If using the cured meats just a small bit will work and the finer you dice/mince the better. What a treat to have these on their own in a paper cone from a Friggitori in Naples or on your own table at home. Now you’ve made NU BELL PANZAROTT o CROCCHE’. Eat like a Napoletano!!!