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Fried Bocconcini with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Fried Bocconcini with Spicy Tomato Sauce
Little nuggets of fresh mozzarella cheese, known as bocconcini, are breaded and deep-fried, then paired with a piquant tomato sauce for dipping. Serve as part of an antipasti platter for an Italian-inspired meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for frying
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 can (28 oz.) San Marzano tomatoes, crushed with juices
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 lb. mozzarella bocconcini (about 50 pieces)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups bread crumbs

Directions:

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the 1/2 cup olive oil. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the garlic is soft but not browned, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and their juices and simmer until the sauce is thickened, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Set aside.

Preheat an oven to 200°F.

Drain the cheese from its liquid. Place the cheese on a paper towel-lined baking sheet and pat dry.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Put the egg mixture, flour and bread crumbs in separate wide, shallow bowls. Roll the cheese in the flour, dip into the egg mixture and coat with the bread crumbs, shaking off the excess after each step. Then bread each piece of cheese again.

In a large, deep sauté pan over medium-high heat, pour in olive oil to a depth of 3 inches and heat to 350°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Working in batches, fry the cheese until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and season the fried cheese with salt and black pepper. Place the cheese on a wire rack set over a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while frying the remaining cheese.

Let the fried cheese cool for at least 7 minutes before serving. Serve with the warm tomato sauce for dipping. Serves 6.

Adapted from a recipe from SPQR restaurant, San Francisco.