Deep-Fried Cheese-Filled Pastries
These pastries are served all over the island of Sardinia. The typical cheeses used are young pecorino and a cows'-milk cheese called peretta, similar to provolone.
Yield: serves 8
- 2 cups fine semolina
- 4 tbsp. lard, melted
- 1 egg, beaten
- 8 oz. provolone, thinly sliced into 16 pieces
- 1 cup freshly grated young pecorino
- Mild olive or vegetable oil
- 8 tbsp. Sardinian miele amaro (bitter honey or any good-quality honey, warm)
- Shape semolina into a mound on a work surface. Use your hand to make a well in the center. Add lard, egg, and 6 tbsp. water to well and lightly beat together with a fork. Continue beating, gradually incorporating semolina from the inside edge of the well into egg mixture. When dough becomes too stiff to work with a fork, knead with both hands until a smooth dough forms. Form dough into a ball, cover with a clean damp kitchen towel, and set aside to rest for 1 hour.
- Divide dough into 16 pieces, shaping each piece into a ball. Cover dough balls with the clean damp kitchen towel to prevent dough from drying out. Working with 2 balls of dough at a time, roll out on a lightly floured surface into 4" x 5 1⁄2" ovals. Put 2 slices provolone and 2 tbsp. pecorino in center of 1 of the ovals. Moisten edge of dough with water, cover with second oval, then press edges to seal. Using a fluted pastry wheel, trim outside edges of dough to make pastry an even oval. Repeat rolling, stuffing, sealing, and trimming process with remaining dough balls and cheese. Set pastries aside.
- Pour oil into a wide medium pot to a depth of 2" and heat over medium-high heat until temperature reaches 350° on a candy thermometer. Deep fry two or three pastries at a time, turning once, until puffed slightly and golden blistered, 3-4 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pastries to paper towels to drain. Serve pastries hot, drizzled with honey.