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Panko Crusted Olives

Hot olives, creamy goat cheese and a crisp panko crust? Yes, I’m in love. Go beyond the cheese board and crudite, think hot, toasty amuse bouchee and give your guests an extra bite that says you were expecting them.  We all know the kitchen, no matter the size, is the favorite hang out in the house. Stay a step ahead and have these sitting up on the kitchen island ready for guests arrival.  My favorite thing about these bites is that they hold well fried up to 5 hours in advance and reheated in the oven at 250F for 15-20 minutes on a rimmed cookie sheet before serving. You will look like such a kitchenista effortlessly pulling these from the oven – not a trace of flour, panko or fry pan to be seen. Grate a little parmigiano on top just as you see the first familiar face appear and bonus points if you toss in some fried parsley. Don’t you love a winter gathering? *Substitute Gorgonzola for the herbed goat cheese for a rich, earthy alternative.

Ingredients: yields 50 stuffed olives

  • 50 Sicilian Olives, pitted (I like to get mine at the olive bar at the supermarket or specialty store)
  • 8 oz goat cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (I like to use Allepo dried pepper)
  • 1 Tbs fresh herbs, minced (rosemary, thyme and oregano are always nice)
  • 1 cup panko crumbs
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 Tbs parmigiano, grated for garnish

Preparation:

  • Place olives in a colander in sink to drain of excess oil.
  • For the goat cheese mixture: in a small bowl, combine the cheese with mustard, red pepper, and herbs.  Mix gently with a fork.
  • Using your fingers, pack cheese mixture into the olive cavern.  Wipe olive edges with fingers to keep the surface tidy.
  • Prepare batter station: place flour, whisked eggs and panko in three separate, low rimmed bowls.
  • Heat oil in a shallow fry pan over medium heat. I use our All-Clad Stainless Steel 3qt Sauteuse. For frying, you want the oil to be between 350-400F.  375F is ideal.
  • In batches of  8-10, roll goat cheese stuffed olives in flour, dredge through eggs, and roll in panko.
  • Gently place battered olives in oil.  Fry 1-2 minutes and then roll over with a slotted spoon.
  • Fry another 1-2 minutes until a beautiful medium  golden brown.
  • Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel lined baking sheet to drain of excess oil. Repeat.
  • Serve immediately or allow to cool and store in an airtight container and reheat in an oven at 250F for 20 minutes just before serving.  Garnish with fresh grated parmigiano!