This über traditional recipe exists in several variations throughout the Italian Peninsula, and it properly represents the tight connection and heritage between our calendar of festivities and the sweets we adopted as celebratory grubs.
These fritters will start appearing in our local pastries and bakery around the end of January, as we prepare to enter our Carnival season, but their true purpose is to celebrate Father's Day (you know, San Giuseppe... St. Joseph, his fatherhood etc.). Interestingly enough this recipe, like many more in our culinary tradition, well represents the intersection of religious and pagan calendars and relative celebrations.
As a kid I do remember being thrown off a bit by the raisins, not my favorite bite or consistency... my grandmother in fact would fry two different batches for adults and kids, just to make sure that everybody could enjoy them and celebrate the day to its fullest, with their favorite treat! As the years went by, and my palate developed and became adult, I eventually came to believe that a fritter without liquor-soaked raisins is not worth being bothered with... this said, you can obviously consider this ingredient as optional.
Serves: 8 / Prep Time: 30 mins / Inactive Prep Time: 1 hr 30 mins / Cooking Time: 20 mins
- 1 cup of long grain rice
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup water
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon of grated lemon zest
- 2 shots (3 ounces) of Vin Santo (or brandy or rum)
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 2 pinches of salt
- 4 cups safflower, canola, or vegetable oil for deep-frying
- In a small bowl, combine the raisins, 1 shot of Vin Santo, and enough water so the raisins are covered. Let sit for 30 minutes so the raisins can soften.
- In a 2-quart pot, combine 1 cup of water, the milk, 2 tablespoons of sugar, the butter, and salt, and bring to a boil. Add the rice, reduce the heat to medium-low heat and cook for about 20 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
- Remove from the heat and transfer the rice to a large bowl to let cool. Stir the rice as it cools to keep the grains from sticking to each other.
- Drain the raisins.
- In a large bowl mix the cooked rice, add the flour, egg yolks, lemon zest, the second shot of Vin Santo, and drained raisins. Mix well and cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
- In high-sided skillet, add the oil to a level of 2 inches. Heat the oil over high heat until the deep-frying thermometer reads 360 degrees F. Using a tablespoon or small ice cream scoop, add small balls of the rice mixture to the hot oil.
- Move the frittelle around to ensure even frying, about 4 to 5 minutes per batch, and when they are a nice golden brown, transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
- Place the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar in a cereal bowl. When the frittelle have slightly cooled, use your hands to roll them in the sugar until they are lightly dusted.