Ingredients for 4 people:50 green olives in brine (the largest you can find)50 g lean pork50 g beef50 g chicken breast2 chicken livers (cleaned and washed)50 g cured ham50 g pecorino cheese1 egg + 1 yolk¼ onion1 piece of celery stalk½ carrot½ glass dry white wine1 pinch of grated lemon rind1 pinch of nutmeg100 g breadcrumbs3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil2 tbsp béchamel sauce salt and pepper 50 g butter1/2L milk50 g plain flour nutmeg salt
Finely chop the onion, carrot and celery, then put them in a pan with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and cook slowly until they begin to brown. Add the 4 types of meat (all diced), brown well, pour in the white wine and let it evaporate, then season with salt and pepper, cover and cook over a low heat for half an hour. Leave to cool and then mince the meat together with the ham; put it in a bowl and add the egg yolk, grated pecorino, a pinch of nutmeg, a little grated lemon rind and 2 tablespoons of béchamel, then mix everything together well. Taste to see if there’s enough salt and add some if necessary. Drain the brine off the olives and cut their pulp away from the stone in a spiral, as close to the stone as possible. When you’ve removed the stone, put some of the filling in the centre and reassemble the olives in their original shape, then dip them in beaten egg and coat them in breadcrumbs. Fry them, at the last minute, in boiling olive oil, place them on absorbent kitchen paper to remove any excess oil and serve piping hot.
This unusual dish, typical of Ascoli Piceno (1),can sometimes be found in trattorias and pizzerias in the centre of Italy but, usually, you are served a dish of Olive Ascolane that have been frozen and come from a “production line”! Tasting them when they’ve just been made, or rather fried, is uncommon, even in Italy, unless you take a trip to the region they come from, the Marche, and to the right places. They’re a bit fiddly and require patience to make (we can’t deny it!), but they’re a delicious appetizer and also fun to serve for buffet lunches or dinners. A tip: make plenty of them, because these olives are moreish and you’ll find the dish empty in no time!
(1) The best olives to use are the “Ascolane” type: large, fleshy and tender, with a small stone.