13 October 2016

GRISPELLE DI PATATE, POTATO GRISPELLE, AND: MI SONO INNAMORATA DELLA CALABRIA

GRISPELLE, AND: SONO IN AMORATA CON CALABRIA

I had to wait for a whole year to finally taste the famous Grispelle, also known as Crespelle, or Zeppole di Patate. Not that I wasn't invited. Not that I didn't suffer so badly for not having been able to go! Not that I really enjoyed all the juicy Calabria details without having been there myself!



GRISPELLE, AND: SONO IN AMORATA CON CALABRIA

I had simply run out of holidays. But luckily this year I was able to follow our friends' invitation to Calabria. Little did I know, how I would fall in love with this beautiful part of Italy - mi sono veramente innamorata della Calabria! Mille Grazie La Signora Giulia, Vincenzo, Stefania, Vittoria e tutti la Famiglia! :-)


CONFLENTI
Conflenti after sunset
Calabria is said to be the undiscovered South of Italy, and you can really feel it. Right on the toe of the Italian boot, and only separated from Sicily by the Street of Messina - in fact, in some places Sicily looks so close, you feel you could just swim over there - it is so natural and beautiful, and not at all overrun by tourists. It's where many Italians spend their vacation, especially around 15th August, Ferragosto (from 'Feriae Augusti' the holidays of the emperor Augustus), that also coincides with the Catholic Holiday of the Assumption of Mary. With processions of the Madonna, pilgrimages, fireworks, and many  festivities that go on until end of August.


REGGIO CALABRIA LUNGOMARE
Reggio Calabria Lungomare with view on Sicily
With one week there, and including beach-lazzienesses and kite surfing, we could only touch a fraction (the west coast) of Calabria, and its vast history and culture, but what an experience! With a countryside full of mountains, old castles and ruins, the most beautiful unspoiled coastline with crystal-blue waters, dotted with old fishing towns and kilometres of sandy beaches. And all with a backdrop of lush green mountains lined with olive trees, looking like big green fluffy sheep in the distance.


CALABRIA COAST LINE
The rugged, mountainous, unspoiled coastline of Calabria

TROPEA
Tropea
PIZZO
Pizzo
TROPEA
Tropea at Sunset
TROPEA
Tropea
Calabria goes back very far in ancient history, and you could spend years just studying its history and culture. A definitive must is the museum Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Reggio Calabria, with its archeological exhibitions of excavations from the Magna Graecia period. The museum is also home to the famous Riace Bronzes. And of course, let's not forget the tales of Odysseus' travels and adventures around the boot, that seem to follow you wherever you go. Luckily we had our personal history and travel guides right by our side... :-)


MUSEO ARCHEOLOGICO NAZIONALE

above: Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Reggio Calabria

below: The Riace Warriors in Museo Archeologico Nazionale. The younger warrior on the left, the older of the two on the right

RIACE BRONZESRIACE BRONZES

MUSEO ARCHEOLOGICO NAZIONALE REGGIO CALABRIA
Burial Ground of Grotteria, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Reggio Calabria
MUSEO ARCHEOLOGICO NAZIONALE
Accolito di Apollo, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Reggio Calabria
And then of course the culinary Calabria. The famous sweet red onions of Tropea. The red peppers and spicy N'duja. The local sausages and cheeses; canned, flavoured tuna; sword fish. Not to forget the sweet and pretty Calabrese cakes and sweets; ice-cream-filled brioches; more ice-cream, granitas; and last but not least, the famous 'Tartufo' of Pizzo.


TROPEA ONIONS
The famous red sweet onions of Tropea
CALABRIA PEPPERS
Red peppers
CALABRIACALABRIA


BOCCONOTTI
Bocconotti, home-made by 'La Regina delle Grispelle'
TARTUFO DI PIZZO

The famous Tartufo di Pizzo @ Gelateria Chez Toi in Pizzo

For me the best in Calabria! With the tastiest ice cream, a melting center of chocolate, in a velvety coat of chocolate powder with a crunch of tiny sugar crystals on every bite

We were so spoilt by La Signora Giulia, the mother of our friends, who is an excellent cook, and beautiful, entertaining, and typical Calabrian host. Grilled, marinated peppers, home-brined black olives, a salad of caper flowers, just to name a few of her specialties. And she did not let us go back home without a huge pack of Calabrese dolci/sweets :-)



CALABRIA BLACK OLIVES
Home-brined olives
CALABRIA GRILLED MARINATED PEPPERS
Grilled, marinated peppers
And, if that was not enough, La Signora had arranged for a local lady of Conflenti, I like to call her: 'La Regina delle Grispelle', the 'Queen of Grispelle' :-), to come to the house and make this local treat for the whole family. And best of all, we were allowed to watch and help. What an honour and experience.


GRISPELLE, AND: SONO IN AMORATA CON CALABRIA
Grispelle/Crespelle/Zeppole di Patate
For all Grispelle novizes: the main ingredients of Grispelle are yeast dough and pureed potatoes. But not just any potatoes. Potatoes from the Calabrese mountains - so flavoursome and an unmissable ingredient!


CALABRIA
'La Regina delle Grispelle' on the left
'La Regina' had created a pre-dough on the day before, the long fermentation for additional flavour, I guess. On the day she mixed the pre-dough with pureed potatoes and more yeast, flower and water, and made a soft, springy dough - pure experience, no scale required - how admirable!

CALABRIA
'La Regina delle Grispelle'

CALABRIA
Finished dough
The finished dough is cut into smaller pieces, rolled into ropes, and shaped into rings or tear drops. In no time we had made over a hundred, or so I counted. The Grispelle are left to rise until almost doubled in size, in our case under heavy sheets and blankets, that prevented them not only from drying out, but also protected them from the onset of the afternoon cold in the mountains.


CALABRIA
'La Regina delle Grispelle'
CALABRIA
Grispelle rings before final rise
Once risen, 'La Regina' fried them in olive oil, from which they emerged a couple of minutes later hot and golden, crispy on the outside, and creamy soft, and tasty on the inside. Potato clouds in a crispy coat. Yum!

CALABRIA
Grispelle being fried in olive oil
I was told that Grispelle are made in many families as a Christmas treat. But on tasting my third (of five), I was sure that there was no time or day of year when I would not be able to enjoy one. With honey or cinnamon sugar and hot coffee or hot chocolate in the morning, with scrambled egg and bacon for lunch, with smoked salmon and horse radish cream for dinner. The possibilities in my head were endless. In fact, there are indeed different versions of Grispelle in Calabria, sweet and savoury, so I was not so far out with my phantasies. Although, the Grispelle of 'La Regina' really needed nothing but themselves, especially hot, just a few seconds out of the pan.

CALABRIA
The Grispelle hot out of the pan
Now as for my own Grispelle: I tried to keep up with the quantities and timings, but of course the true Grispelle secret remains with the experienced eyes and hands of 'La Regina'. Also, I don't have potatoes from the Calabrian mountains - failure programmed :-( So, in order not to disappoint everyone, especially as their beautiful flavour is still fresh on everyone's palate, I seasoned the dough with a little nutmeg. Then I cut the dough in half and mixed anchovies pieces into one half, another popular Grispelle version in Calabria. The other half I made plain, but then I rolled half of them in granulated sugar.


CALABRIA

Learning: although their taste was nice, my Grispelle turned out smaller and more airy inside. Will try them next time with a little less water or more potatoes or flour. Still a treat, especially those with the anchovies and with the sugar. 

Important is, that the Grispelle are eaten hot and fresh from the pan, as they quickly loose their crispness and beautiful texture when cold or warmed up - not that that stopped us from eating them for 2 days :-) But it's best to be considered when deciding on the quantity to be made. 

Of course, my Grispelle are at best a try, and to bridge the gap until hopefully one day we will return to Conflenti to have the real thing again.


CALABRIA

Recipe based on: 
The Grispelle from 'La Regina delle Grispelle', from Conflenti, Calabria, as watched, listened, helped and eaten

For app. 35, app. 10 cm rings (app. 40-70g raw weight)

For the pre-dough: 
250g '00' flour (I used '00' Pizza flour)
12g fresh yeast
approximately 200ml water (depending on the flour used)

1kg potatoes (Yukon, Russet, or ones with yellow or red skin that do not absorb a lot of water during cooking. I used Nicola)
250g '00' flour (I used '00' Pizza flour)
12g fresh yeast
approximately 150ml water (depending on the flour used)
Nutmeg
Salt
app. 1l Oil for deep-frying: olive oil, maize oil, or a mix of both
(Optional: golden caster sugar for Sweet Grispelle, and/or 2 tins of anchovies for Anchovies Grispelle)


GRISPELLE, AND: SONO IN AMORATA CON CALABRIAGRISPELLE, AND: SONO IN AMORATA CON CALABRIA

Make the pre-dough on the day before: Sift the flour into a bowl and make a well. Warm the water a little, then pour about 100ml into the well. Add the crumbled yeast to the water and stir until dissolved, thereby adding a little flour from the side. Leave to rest for app. 30 minutes or until the yeast starts to show bubbles. Add the remaining water (or as much as needed depending on the flour used) and mix together with the flour and yeast into a rough shaggy dough. Cover with cellophane and a kitchen towel and leave to ferment over night. 

GRISPELLE, AND: SONO IN AMORATA CON CALABRIAGRISPELLE, AND: SONO IN AMORATA CON CALABRIA

On the next day, wash the unpeeled potatoes and put them with the skin into a big pot. Cover with plenty of cold water, app. 5 cm higher than the level of the potatoes, then cook until soft, a small knife should insert easily. Drain, then put them back in the pot and on the stove for a couple of seconds to dry them out completely. 

GRISPELLE, AND: SONO IN AMORATA CON CALABRIAGRISPELLE, AND: SONO IN AMORATA CON CALABRIAGRISPELLE, AND: SONO IN AMORATA CON CALABRIA

Leave the cooked potatoes to cool a little, then peel them still warm and put them through a potato ricer. Season with salt and nutmeg. 

GRISPELLE, AND: SONO IN AMORATA CON CALABRIAGRISPELLE, AND: SONO IN AMORATA CON CALABRIA

Dissolve the remaining yeast in app. 30ml water and add it to the potatoes. Add the pre-dough and remaining water (or as much as needed, according to the flour used) to the potatoes and mix all ingredients well with a wooden spoon into a shaggy dough.

GRISPELLE, AND: SONO IN AMORATA CON CALABRIA

Transfer the dough to a well floured work surface and knead for app. 10 minutes or until the dough is soft and elastic. Depending on the flour and potatoes used, you might have to add more flour or water during kneading. When finished kneading, cut the dough in half with a bench scraper or large knife. 

GRISPELLE, AND: SONO IN AMORATA CON CALABRIA

GRISPELLE, AND: SONO IN AMORATA CON CALABRIA

For classic Grispelle: cut a long piece off the dough, roll it into a thinner sausage, then cut the sausages into smaller rectangles. Put the rectangles cut sides up and down on a floured work surface, then roll them one after the other into a sausage. 

GRISPELLE, AND: SONO IN AMORATA CON CALABRIAGRISPELLE, AND: SONO IN AMORATA CON CALABRIA

For the Anchovies Grispelle: flatten the second part of the dough into a long rectangle. Drain the oil off the anchovies, cut them into small pieces, then spread them out evenly on the dough rectangle. Roll up the dough from the long side. Cut smaller pieces off the roll. Set the pieces with the cut sides up and down onto the work surface. Any anchovy pieces peeping out, simply push back into the dough with your fingers, then close the dough on the top to seal it. Repeat the same with the underside. Roll the piece into a long sausage. Shape into a ring, pressing the ends together gently, see photo and step below. 

GRISPELLE, AND: SONO IN AMORATA CON CALABRIAGRISPELLE, AND: SONO IN AMORATA CON CALABRIA

GRISPELLE, AND: SONO IN AMORATA CON CALABRIAGRISPELLE, AND: SONO IN AMORATA CON CALABRIA

Shape the dough sausage into a ring, with the ends overlapping a little. Press the ends together gently. 

GRISPELLE, AND: SONO IN AMORATA CON CALABRIA

Place the rings with sufficient distance on a table or large work surface onto a well floured table cloth or large kitchen towels (making sure to put all the Grispelle with the anchovies on one side). Dust the Grispelle well with flour, then cover with another table cloth. Leave to rest and almost double in size. 

GRISPELLE, AND: SONO IN AMORATA CON CALABRIAGRISPELLE, AND: SONO IN AMORATA CON CALABRIA

GRISPELLE, AND: SONO IN AMORATA CON CALABRIA

Heat the oil in a flat pan to app. 320-360°F/160-180°C. It's best to measure the temperature with a candy thermometer, but if none at hand, insert a wooden spoon into the oil. When sufficiently hot, there should be bubbles showing on the spoon. (Side note: I had my Grispelle laid out in another room, so transferred 6 at a time on a tray to the kitchen for cooking. They look quite flat on the tray, but plump up again nicely during frying.)


Put the Grispelle into the hot oil and fry them for app. 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Turn them over and fry them for another 2-3 minutes.  Lift them out of the pan and put them on a couple of sheets of kitchen paper to drain off any excess fat. 


For the sweet Grispelle: put the drained Grispelle whilst still hot into crystallised sugar and coat evenly.  


Serve hot with some napkins to eat by hand. 


_________________________________________________



GRISPELLE DI PATATE, POTATO GRISPELLE, THREE-WAYS



For app. 35, app. 10 cm rings (app. 40-70g raw weight)

For the pre-dough: 
250g '00' flour (I used '00' Pizza flour)
12g fresh yeast
approximately 200ml water (depending on the flour used)

1kg potatoes (Yukon, Russet, or ones with yellow or red skin that do not absorb a lot of water during cooking. I used Nicola)
250g '00' flour (I used '00' Pizza flour)
12g fresh yeast
approximately 150ml water (depending on the flour used)
Nutmeg
Salt
Oil for frying: olive oil, maize oil, or a mix of both
(Optional: golden caster sugar for Sweet Grispelle, and/or 2 tins of anchovies for Anchovies Grispelle)

1. Make the pre-dough on the day before: Sift the flour into a bowl and make a well. Warm the water a little, then pour about 100ml into the well. Add the crumbled yeast to the water and stir until dissolved, thereby adding a little flour from the side. Leave to rest for app. 30 minutes or until the yeast starts to show bubbles. Add the remaining water (or as much as needed depending on the flour used) and mix together with the flour and yeast into a rough shaggy dough. Cover with cellophane and a kitchen towel and leave to ferment over night. 

2. Boil the potatoes: On the next day, wash the unpeeled potatoes and put them with the skin into a big pot. Cover with plenty of cold water, app. 5 cm higher than the level of the potatoes, then cook until soft, a small knife should insert easily. Drain, then put them back in the pot and on the stove for a couple of seconds to dry them out completely. 

3. Put the potatoes through a ricer, season: Leave the cooked potatoes to cool a little, then peel them still warm and put them through a potato ricer. Season with salt and nutmeg. 

4. Bring the dough together: Dissolve the remaining yeast in app. 30ml water and add it to the potatoes. Add the pre-dough and remaining water (or as much as needed, according to the flour used) to the potatoes and mix all ingredients well with a wooden spoon into a shaggy dough. 

5. Knead the dough, cut in half: Transfer the dough to a well floured work surface and knead for app. 10 minutes or until the dough is soft and elastic. Depending on the flour and potatoes used, you might have to add more flour or water during kneading. When finished kneading, cut the dough in half with a bench scraper or large knife. 

6. Shape the Grispelle: 
For classic Grispelle: cut a long piece off the dough, roll it into a thinner sausage, then cut the sausages into smaller rectangles. Put the rectangles cut sides up and down on a floured work surface, then roll them one after the other into a sausage. Shape the dough sausage into a ring, with the ends overlapping a little. Press the ends together gently. 

For the Anchovies Grispelle: flatten the second part of the dough into a long rectangle. Drain the oil off the anchovies, cut them into small pieces, then spread them out evenly on the dough rectangle. Roll up the dough from the long side. Cut smaller pieces off the roll. Set the pieces with the cut sides up and down onto the work surface. Any anchovy pieces peeping out, simply push back into the dough with your fingers, then close the dough on the top to seal it. Repeat the same with the underside. Roll the piece into a long sausage. Shape into a ring, pressing the ends together gently, see photo and step below. 

7. Leave the Grispelle to double in size: Place the rings with sufficient distance on a table or large work surface onto a well floured table cloth or large kitchen towels (making sure to put all the Grispelle with the anchovies on one side). Dust the Grispelle well with flour, then cover with another table cloth. Leave to rest and almost double in size. 

8. Heat up the frying oil: Heat the oil in a flat pan to app. 320-360°F/160-180°C. It's best to measure the temperature with a candy thermometer, but if none at hand, insert a wooden spoon into the oil. When sufficiently hot, there should be bubbles showing on the spoon. (side note: I had my Grispelle played out in another room, so transferred 6 at a time on a tray to the kitchen for cooking.)

9. Deep-fry the Grispelle: Put the Grispelle into the hot oil and fry them for app. 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Turn them over and fry them for another 2-3 minutes.  Lift them out of the pan and put them on a couple of sheets of kitchen paper to drain off any excess fat. 

10. Coat the sweet Grispelle with sugar: put the drained Grispelle whilst still hot into crystallised sugar and coat evenly.  

11. Serve: Serve hot with some napkins to eat by hand. 


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