Italian Regional Recipes Starters

Pettole – Mini Fried Dough Balls

Pettole, an Apulian speciality prepared mainly during Christmas time, are mini balls of leavened dough fried in oil and strictly eaten hot: in the savoury version they are usually stuffed with anchovies and served as a starter, whilst in the sweet version,  just sprinkling some sugar on top to eat at the end of the meal.

You can play with this recipe and customise your Pettole with a variety of ingredients: black olives or sun dried tomatoes or broccoli rabe… the sky’s the limit!

Being Puglia a land of durum wheat cultivar, they are often also made by using durum wheat flour for an even more fragrant result.

As soon as they are dipped in boiling oil, they swell and become crispy with a beautiful golden colour.

They seem to have inherited the name from the word “Pitta“, which in Latin means small focaccia.

Be quick in grabbing some as soon as they hit the table – they will be gone in a jiffy!


Makes about 15| Preparation time: 20 mins + 2 h rising for the dough | Cooking time: 20 mins

  • Italian Flour “00” or Durum Wheat Flour or all-purpose flour or plain flour:  500 g
  • Anchovy fillets in olive oil: 30 g
  • Brewer’s yeast: 12 g
  • Lukewarm Water: 350 ml
  • Salt: ½ tsp
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil or Peanut oil for deep-frying

Method

Tip: it is essential that during the preparation of the pettole that the batter stays fluid and not too dense to get a fairly sticky dough.

In a deep and large bowl mix the flour with salt, yeast and water. Make sure to use lukewarm water to activate the yeast. Mix the dough with your hands for a good 20 minutes or until the dough is silky, smooth and quite runny.

Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen cloth or with clingfilm and leave it to rise in a warm place for 2 hours or until it doubles in size.

Tip: add anchovies – or whatever ingredient you’re going to use – only after the dough has risen and not before, or else you will stunt its rise.

Drain anchovies from their oil, chop them roughly. Add the anchovies to the dough, then grease your hands with a bit of olive oil and knead the dough a little, just about enough to spread the anchovies evenly. Don’t knead the dough too much or it will flatten.

Put on the stove a deep saucepan full of Evoo or Peanut oil and wait for the oil to be hot enough before deep-frying Pettole.

Clench a bit of dough in your fist and squeeze it through the small space between your index finger and your thumb. The dough will come out of your fist in a little sphere; pinch it at the base to detach it from the rest of the dough and let it gently fall in the oil.

Once Pettole are golden and evenly fried, remove them from the oil with a skimmer, place them on a plate lined with kitchen paper so to absorb the excess of oil.

Pettole are ready to be enjoyed.

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