We love eating cicchetti in Venice and one of the dishes we often order is Mozzarella in Carrozza alla Veneziana. The battered and fried mozzarella sandwiches often pair the soft, melty cheese with anchovies or ham, and make the perfect accompaniment to a glass of wine, a beer or an aperol spritz.
This recipe is from Cinnamon and Salt: Cicchetti in Venice: Small Bites From the Lagoon City by Emiko Davies and when we made it recenty, it transported us straight back to Venice, one of the most beautiful and captivating cities we’ve visited.
Read our full review of Emiko Davies’ Cinnamon and Salt. to find out why it’s already a favourite book on our bookshelf.
Mozzarella in Carrozza alla Veneziana (Venetian-style Fried Mozzarella Sandwiches)
These deep-fried sandwiches may have been invented in Naples in the nineteenth century, but dipping bread in a mixture of egg and milk and frying it is an old tradition in many places, and this is a fried cicchetto that Venetians have made entirely their own. The classic Neapolitan one is made with stale bread, and the mozzarella sandwiches are dipped first in flour, then in plain beaten egg and, finally, in breadcrumbs. But Edda Servi Machlin, who was born in the heart of the Jewish quarter of the Tuscan town of Pitigliano, has a recipe in The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews (1981) where she mixes egg, milk and flour into a batter and submerges the sandwiches into this before deep-frying. This is similar to the way you’ll find them also in Venice, such as at the Rosticceria Gilson near the Rialto bridge where they are made in enormous quantities, and also in the historic bàcaro Cantina Do Spade – it is at the latter where they explain the other important difference in the Venetian-style sandwich: they use the softest sandwich bread, like what you would make tramezzini with – and they are served in two ways: with anchovies or with prosciutto cotto, ham.
- 1-2 balls fresh mozzarella, approximately 150 g / 5½ oz
- 1 egg, separated
- 80 ml (2½ fl oz / ⅓ cup) full-cream whole milk, well-chilled
- 75 g (2¾ oz/½ cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 6 anchovies (preserved in oil, drained) or sliced ham
- 6 slices sandwich bread, crusts removed and cut into 2 rectangles
- vegetable oil for frying
I don’t tend to add salt to these because the anchovy or ham adds enough, but if you decide not to use either for a vegetarian version they will be a little more delicate so you may like a little sprinkle of salt. I prefer salting them when they are just fried.
Slice the mozzarella balls into 1 cm (1/2 in) thick discs, then drain them in one layer over a sieve lined with some absorbent kitchen paper while you prepare the batter. In a small bowl, whip the egg white with a whisk until it is foamy. In another bowl, whisk together the yolk and the milk and then add the flour, until you have a smooth batter. Add the egg whites gently and keep it chilled while you make the sandwiches.
Place a slice of mozzarella and an anchovy between two rectangles of bread and continue with the other slices so that you have six rectangular sandwiches.
Heat the oil in a frying pan, about 2–3 cm (3/4–11/4 in) deep, over a medium heat until it reaches 170°C (340°F) (see page 118 for visual cues if you don’t have a candy thermometer). One at a time, submerge the bread into the chilled batter to cover all over, lightly squish the edges together as you do so, and then gently place in the oil with the help of a slotted spoon. Fry for about 90 seconds, turning once so it is evenly golden brown all over. Place on absorbent kitchen paper to drain and salt them immediately. You could fry two at a time. Continue with the rest of the sandwiches.
They’re delicious freshly fried when still hot and the cheese has melted, but honestly, these are so good I would (and do) eat them cold too. These also do very well made several hours ahead of time and simply reheated in the oven, coming out as if they had just been freshly fried. Let them cool completely before putting in an airtight container and keeping in the fridge until you need them. Then place them on a lined baking tray in the oven at 180°C (350°F) and heat until they are piping hot.
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Kavey Eats received a review copy of Cinnamon and Salt: Cicchetti in Venice: Small Bites From the Lagoon City by Emiko Davies from publisher Hardie Grant. Book photography by Emiko Davies.