Gnocco fritto is one of those traditional Italian dishes that has made history even outside Italy. Light and crisp, gnocco fritto is ideal as an accompaniment to sliced cold cuts and cheeses of all kinds. Gnocco fritto is far more than a simple alternative to bread; it is in fact ideal for serving with aperitifs and full, informal suppers combining flavour and ease!
Gnocco fritto is a typically Italian dish made up of a very few, simple ingredients. Flour, lard, leavening and salt bring to life little rectangles which, when fried, are ideal for serving with the finest Italian cold cuts and cheeses. As with so many other traditional Italian recipes, each region has its own form of gnocco fritto, also known as Crescentina or Torta fritta, depending on the province.
The history of gnocco fritto began in the Lombard era, when lard was readily available; it is the main ingredient in this recipe and consists of rendered pork fat, useful for frying foods as an alternative to the more classic olive oil. Until the mid-1900s, gnocco fritto was the most popular street food in Italy at popular festivals in addition to being a common dish served at farmers’ tables for lunch.
Easy to prepare and delicious to eat, gnocco fritto is perfect with aperitifs or for a dinner with friends, so you can enjoy eating top-quality ingredients without using a plate and utensils!
First, crumble the yeast into a large glass or ceramic bowl; add half the lukewarm water and mix using your fingers, making certain the yeast is well dissolved. Add two tablespoons of flour to the mix and blend together to obtain a very thin batter. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes so that the yeast can work undisturbed.
Then add the remaining flour and the lard. Dissolve the salt in the remaining water and add it to the batter, mixing thoroughly. When your dough is smooth and elastic, form it into a ball, place it in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for about three hours. When the gnocco fritto dough has tripled in volume, transfer it to a work surface and roll it out with a rolling pin into a thin sheet, about 3 mm thick.
Cut diamond shapes, about 8/10 cm per side, out of the dough and fry them in plenty of lard until they are golden-brown and crisp. Drain the gnocco fritto on paper towels and serve hot accompanied with prosciutto, salami and soft cheeses.