The other night we dropped by the bar at Staab House in La Posada Resort and Spa. That was where we had the reception for our younger daughter’s wedding some years ago, so we went back for a bit of nostalgia. It was Happy Hour, so we got their house cocktails. I got Julia’s Manhattan. The drink is named after the resident ghost of the Staab House. (Doesn’t very bar of any age have its own ghost?) and the drink included elderberry liqueur. It was delicious.
We also got some of their bar foods. A standout was the fried green olives stuffed with goat cheese and served with fried Marcona almonds. The olives were so delicious and so unique, that I determined to try them at home. I found some giant olives at the store along with goat cheese. I just bought things off the shelf, but you could get fancy and use olives from the olive bar and artisanal goat cheese. The major challenge was to figure out how to get the breadcrumbs to stick to the olives. The bread crumbs on the original looked like panko, so that was a place to start.
I tried xanthan gum as the glue, but all I got was a sticky blob of clumped xanthan. Then I tried egg wash made from egg white diluted with a little water. That didn’t work any better than the xanthan gum. I checked my cookbooks to no avail, so I was finally forced to turn to the internet. There, mirabile dictu, were at least ten recipes for fried olives stuffed with all sorts of things including Italian sausage. They all described the dish as “easy”. What was the secret of all of these recipes? The answer seemed to be using classic breading technique – dry the olives, dredge them in flour, coat them in egg, and then dip them in bread crumbs. Regular bread crumbs work, but if you want to use panko, you need to grind them a little finer in a spice mill or with a rolling pin. I tried these suggestions and wound up with this recipe. After all my scouting efforts, I opened my new (May, 2015) cop of Saveur magazine to find yet another recipe for olives stuffed with ground beef and pork (page 57)
Shamelessly, I am posting my own recipe in the face of all of that professional competition. It might be easier just to go back to the Staab House.
Fried Goat-Cheese-Stuffed Green Olives
- 24 colossal pitted green olives
- 4 ounces mild goat cheese, softened at room temperature
- all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 egg, beaten until smooth
- 2 tablespoons water
- dry bread crumbs or crushed panko
- peanut oil for frying
- Drain and dry the olives
- Place the softened goat cheese in a pastry sleeve fitted with a ½ inch plain tip. ( Alternatively, you can use a 1/8 teaspoon measuring spoon or your fingers to stuff the olives._
- Fill the pitted olives with the goat cheese.
- In a pie plate, mix the flour and salt. In a small bowl, combine the beaten egg and water. Sprinkle bread crumbs in a second pie plate.
- Dredge the filled olives in a shallow dish filled with flour mixture. Individually, toss the olives in your open hand to remove any extra flour.
- Dip the floured olives one by one in the bowl with the beaten egg mixture. Transfer to the pie plate of bread crumbs and toss lightly to coat the olives with bread crumbs. Make sure the cheese stuffing is well-coated.
- Dry the olives for 30 minutes on a rack. You can prepare the olives ahead up to this point.
- When you are ready to fry the olives, heat enough of the peanut oil in a heavy, high-sided pan to submerge the olives. Heat the oil to 350°F. Use a thermometer to check the temperature.. In batches, fry the olives for just a few minutes, turning occasionally until the crust is golden brown. Drain on layers of paper towels. Keep warm until all of the olives are fried.
- Serve while still warm.