Gnocco Fritto (fried bread from Modena)

  • Main ingredients:
    Unbleached white flour, water, lard.
  • Other ingredients:
    A pinch of sodium bicarbonate baking soda and salt.
  • Preparation:
    Knead flour, water, lard, a pinch of sodium bicarbonate and a pinch of salt together. When the mixture is soft, let it to rest in a warmish place.
    The dough is then flattened into a thin layer with a rolling pin, cut into 4" - 5" pieces in rhomboid shapes and pricked with a fork.
    Next it is fried in abundant hot lard though nowadays sometime in oil, then drained on absorbent paper and served immediately. Some are fond of leftoves the following day.
  • Production Area:
    All Emilia region.
  • Notes:
    Gnocco is a somewhat confusing word within the Italian gastronomic literature. Probably of Lombard origins, it means "knot" and defines either small potato dumpling or, in it's Roman interpretation, they are made with semolina dough.
    However, the name was mentioned in the Nel Baldus - the mock-heroic poem by Teofilo Folengo - in which the Muses make gnocchi well before the potato was known and used as food.
    In Modena, the gnocco fritto, or "fried gnocco" is the kind of fried bread described above. In Bologna, the same fried bread is usually round and is called crescentina. In Parma the same product is called torta fritta "fried pie".
    The tradition of fried bread is a Lombard legacy that springs from the abundance of lard in their diet and the use of the frying pan. Gnocco fritto, crescentina and torta fritta are peasant recipes with an ancient tradition. Some local gourmands claim that since the product is not fermented, it is more appropriate than bread when serving other fermented product such as salami, ham and cheese.

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