Sunday, March 13, 2011

Deep-Fried Bocconcini with Spicy Tomato and Garlic Chutney

 A couple of years back my local Williams-Sonoma featured cooking classes with various topics like risotto, pasta, pizza, weeknight meals, etc.  They would hire well-known local chefs to host 2-3 hour cooking classes for a class of 12.  Each cooking class was a whopping $40, but this was before I discovered blogging and I was desperate for anything that had to do with cooking, so I paid the price. I can still remember how excited I would get before those cooking classes.  It was as if each new class was an exciting new adventure for my senses.

There is one cooking class that I remember extremely well.  It was the cooking class all about CHEESE. It was a full house that night as they allowed 14 people to attend and we were all crammed around an island in the middle of the store.  The chef that night was one of the most well-known chefs in town, a personal chef to the sheik who owned the largest horse farm in Lexington.  I don't remember what we made that night, probably some fancy foods with cheese. 

What I do remember is this.

Halfway through the class, one of the quietest ladies in the audience spoke up.  I think she just assumed that since it was a class about CHEESE that we were going to make fried cheese.  When she found out that we weren't making fried cheese she just wasn't going to let it go. The chef was trying to move on, but the woman just wouldn't let up.  She asked question after question, all regarding fried cheese, until most of the class and even the chef  became annoyed. On the other hand, I had to suppress my giggles because I thought it was kinda cute.  She had paid $40, just like the rest of us, and she was not walking away until she knew how to make fried cheese.  Who can blame her?  Fried cheese is one of the best things on the planet!
 Deep-Fried Bocconcini with Spicy Tomato and Garlic Chutney
Adapted from FoodNetwork.com
Serves 6-8


Bocconcini:
16 (1-inch diameters balls) bocconcini mozzarella cheese
2 cups flour
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 eggs, beaten
3 cups seasoned Italian bread crumbs
Vegetable oil, for frying


Chutney:
8 cloves garlic
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped (left out, didn't have any on hand)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes

For the bocconcini: Drain the bocconcini and pat dry with paper towels. Put on a paper towel-lined plate and allow to dry in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Put the flour in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Put the eggs in a second medium bowl and the bread crumbs in a third medium bowl. Coat the bocconcini in flour and then dip into the eggs. Roll the bocconcini in the bread crumbs until coated. Dip the coated bocconcini, again, in the eggs and then coat with bread crumbs. Freeze the breaded bocconcini for 20 minutes.

For the chutney: In a blender, combine the garlic, ginger, 1/4 teaspoon salt, vinegar, sugar, olive oil, cumin and pepper. Blend until smooth. Pour into a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is thick, about 45 to 55 minutes. Using the back of a wooden spoon, gently break up the tomatoes as they begin to soften during cooking. Season with salt, to taste. Let the chutney cool to room temperature, about 35 minutes. Place in a serving bowl.

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour in enough oil to fill the pan about a third of the way. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil reaches 375 degrees F. (If you don't have a thermometer a cube of bread will brown in about 1 to 2 minutes.) In batches, fry the bocconcini until golden brown, about 15 to 20 seconds. Drain on paper towels.

Arrange the bocconcini on a platter and serve the chutney alongside as an accompaniment.
Notes/Results: Absolutely addictive and delicious!  There is just something about those cute little balls of crispy melting cheese that are irresistible.  The tomato and garlic chutney is perfect for me as I like spicy food, but it is pretty darn spicy so you may consider holding back on the cayenne. I do want to note that you need some time to make this recipe as it requires some planning ahead.  This isn't one of those recipes that you can just throw together. The cheese needs to be removed from the container, drained, and allowed to drain/dry in the refrigerator for 2 hours.  In addition, the chutney takes about 35-45 minutes to cook down on the stove.  Also, once the cheese is breaded, it has to set up in the freezer to harden for at least 20 minutes
Another delicious Giada recipe that I would definitely make again!  
Cooking the recipes of Giada De Laurentiis for two more weeks!

27 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh. This may be my favorite thing that I've never tried! I know that I'd love it...I mean, fried + cheese. Come on! I bet this is what that lady was picturing. I'd ask over and over again, too ;) YUM!

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  2. That is a really funny story. And this is a really good recipe. Looks so good, Kim!

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  3. Oh my, yummy gooey fried cheese. Sounds amazING! Did that instructor finally give up and show her how to make fried cheese?

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  4. Well heck, that last comment was me. I have way too many google accounts :P

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  5. I'm with that woman. I love, love, love cheese and deep-fried mozzerella is the best. This definitely looks addictive.

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  6. I am so with that woman! I want my fried cheese too!

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  7. fried. cheese. i don't know if there are two words more beautiful then those. oh my gosh those look good, and the sauce looks equally good. how fun to go to those classes, so did the lady ever get her fried cheese? haha!

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  8. I'm always trying to look for cheaper cooking classes around here and I've decided that they just don't exist! Thank god I have blogging though :P

    Definitely true that NOTHING in life is as good as fried cheese. I haven't had it in forever but I love the idea of frying bocconcini! Little balls of heaven.

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  9. I really love cheese, and fried sounds awesome!

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  10. Fried mozzarella is so delicious. You did it justice with this recipe and wonderful accompanying dip.

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  11. You already know how we feel about fried cheese around here. These are so cute! Great pick, Kim!

    I enjoyed reading about your cooking classes and the fried cheese lady. She really wanted to learn about fried cheese!

    Don't know if you saw my reply...yes, I did vote for Bayless! Was looking forward to some good Mexican food.

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  12. Adorable little cheese balls and who wouldn't love fried cheese except maybe that chef. ;-) Great pick and I love the pictures--you know the pictures are good when they have you wiping the drool off your chin!

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  13. You know, for as many times as I've had fried cheese in some form or another, I've never considered frying bocconcini! How awesome! Gonna have to try this at home for sure.

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  14. Now that's a beauty - love that chutney. Have to smile at the story - I don't do fried cheese often but when I do - I really enjoy it. I haven't yet managed to wrap myself around WI cheese curds - but fried cheese? Bring it on!

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  15. These look glorious! I think I'm going to be dreaming of them tonight! The spicy chutney sounds perfect with them.

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  16. Very funny story! You are right; I don't blame her for wanting fried cheese..lol Love your fried cheese balls. They look amazing and with your chutney...yummy! My kids would go nuts for these too!

    Thanks for you kind words on my blog. I am glad you found the drops. I think you will be pleased with the cookies:)

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  17. Kim
    I enjoyed reading about the lady who was a pest! Sometimes I wish I was that assertive! :)
    These cheese balls look and sound fabulous! Love that chutney too. perfect pairing.

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  18. I've also considered taking one of those classes at Williams-Sonoma but knew they would be a lecture and I prefer something more hands on. Have you ever taken one of Phil Dunn's cooking classes? They are a lot of fun and pretty affordable considering you make 4-5 dishes (hands on) have dinner, wine, and take home leftovers.

    These look simply amazing! My daughter is a fried cheese nut so I will have to make these for her.

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  19. I'm with you, Kim. I love fried cheese! That woman was determined, that's for sure. Guess I would have shut up after getting an inkling that there would be no fried cheese there that day.
    On the other hand, you've got a loverly recipe for it right here!

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  20. A little fried cheese heals just about any ailment....well, at least I believe so!

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  21. I'm not sure I could have contained my laughter in the cooking class. That sounded like one very determined lady :o)

    Even though the class wasn't about fried cheese, you nailed this one. I love eating bocconcini right out of the brine, but your version is making me weak in the knees. They look amazing :o)

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  22. To funny, but fried cheese is something to be persistent about. I love your take on it.
    Mimi

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  23. I can remember the days that I would pay almost anything to get in a room with folks that loved food. More importantly, where I could watch talented people cook. I would just absorb the information.

    Your angle on this story is really good. I enjoyed reading it.

    Velva

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  24. Oh my - fried cheese!!! It looks sooooo good. I want to gobble up all your leftovers. ☺

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  25. Friggin' yum. It is happy hour on friday and DAMN I want some of these, you punk! Quit teasing me.

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  26. Fried cheese is the best! I love biting into a crisp crust contrasted with creamy gooeyness. This looks delicious!

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