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Fritto Misto: Matt Gallaher’s Italian restaurant in Knoxville, chile aioli

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Fritto Misto

Fritto Misto: Emilia, Matt Gallaher’s Italian restaurant in Knoxville, Tennessee, has hand-rolled pasta and focaccia light enough to defy gravity, among other things. But the chef’s greatest trick is his fritto misto, which remained as crisp at the end of a two-hour supper as it had been when the basket of fried seafood and veggies first arrived at our table.

Gallaher was kind enough to share the recipe with us, explaining how rice flour and white wine in the batter give the dish its airy, crackly texture. You’ll be reaching for seconds with a side of zingy Calabrian chile aioli.

It’s all up to you what you want to fry: Calamari rings are the traditional choice, but broccolini florets turn nearly kettle-chip crispy in the frying. Plus, because this fritto keeps its crispiness for such a long time, you can make it ahead of time for dinner party guests—a unique trait in the world of fried food.

Fritto Misto: Recipe for Fritto Misto with Calabrian Chile Aioli

Fritto Misto

The secret to this fritto misto recipe from Matt Gallaher of Emilia in Knoxville, Tennessee, is a batter prepared with rice flour and white wine.

Ingredients

For the Calabrian Chile Aioli

2 egg yolks

2½ teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons Calabrian chile paste, divided

1½ teaspoons sherry vinegar

2½ teaspoons distilled white vinegar

¾ teaspoons salt

⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil

¾ cup canola oil

For the Fritto Misto

Peanut or canola oil for frying

2½ cups rice flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons salt

1¼ cups dry white wine

1¼ cups water

½ pound calamari, cleaned and cut into rings

½ pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 bunch broccolini, separated into florets

1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced

1 small delicata squash, seeded and thinly sliced

1 Meyer lemon, thinly sliced, plus additional wedges for serving

Directions

Combine the egg yolks, Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon Calabrian chilli paste, vinegars, and salt in a food processor to make the aioli. Slowly pour in the oils while the machine is operating until a thick mayonnaise forms. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the Calabrian chile paste that has been set aside.

To make the fritto misto, follow these steps: Fill a 6-quart pan with enough oil to reach a depth of at least 2 inches. Preheat the oil to 375 degrees.

Whisk the rice flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the white wine and water until a smooth batter is formed. If required, add additional rice flour or water until you get a thin pancake batter-like consistency.

Dip the shellfish and veggies in the batter one at a time, tapping out any excess against the side of the bowl to leave only a thin layer. Fry for 2 to 4 minutes in batches, until crisp and faintly brown. Season with salt and drain on a towel-lined platter.

Serve with aioli made from Calabrian chiles.

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