Test kitchen director Farideh Sadeghin likes to use Italian bread crumbs to bread her mozzarella, but you could use panko if you were so inclined. Double breading insures that the outside gets nice and crispy while the inside cheese has time to mely when frying. These freeze well, so keep them in your freezer and pull them out to defrost before frying whenever you feel like.
- 1 lb. block mozzarella cheese, cut into 3-inch by 1/2-inch sticks
- 3⁄4 cup flour
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 cups Italian bread crumbs
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. chile flakes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- canola oil, for frying
Place the flour, eggs, and bread crumbs in separate shallow dishes. Working with 1 piece of mozzarella at a time, dredge in flour, dip in eggs, and coat in breadcrumbs; repeat this process one more time. Lay on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to use.
Heat olive oil and butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high; add garlic and onion and cook until soft, about 6 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook 2 minutes more, then add tomatoes, sugar, chile flakes, salt, and pepper; cook until thick, 15-18 minutes. Keep marinara sauce warm.
Heat 2" canola oil in a 6-quart saucepan until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350°; working in batches, fry mozzarella until golden and crisp, about 1 1⁄2 minutes. Transfer mozzarella sticks to paper towels to drain; serve hot and with marinara sauce.