At Ilda in Sylva, North Carolina, the menus are always changing, but this gnoccho frito with country ham will never go off. It’s a customer favorite. The simplicity of hot bread and salty, fatty cured ham served together is universal. In this case, look for a really good local country ham, which will make all the difference. It’s the perfect snack to enjoy with a couple of friends and a bottle of red wine while waiting for the holiday meal.
From An Italian Appalachian Holiday
Serves 4 to 6
1⅔ cups warm water
1 tablespoon dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
5⅓ cups 00 flour, plus more for dusting
⅓ cup lard, room temperature, plus more for frying*
4 teaspoons salt
20 pieces thinly sliced country ham
Balsamic vinegar for serving
*Alternatively, you can use cooking oil for frying
- Combine water, yeast, and sugar in a large mixing bowl; stir until yeast and sugar are dissolved. Let rest in a warm space for about 15 minutes.
- Add flour to mixing bowl and combine with a wooden spoon. Slowly add lard and knead with your hands to incorporate. Knead in salt.
- Dust a little flour on a work surface and place dough on surface, kneading until a smooth, round ball is formed, about 5 minutes.
- Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 30 minutes.
- Add more flour to the dusted work surface, then turn dough onto surface. Use a rolling pin to stretch dough out into a long rectangle, about 1-inch thick. Slice the rectangle into smaller rectangles, about 4 inches long by 3 inches wide. Dust dough pieces with more flour.
- Fill a heavy-bottomed pot with enough lard or oil to cover the dough pieces and place over medium heat until oil reaches 350 degrees. Carefully place the dough strips into the oil in batches and fry, turning occasionally, until dough is golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Serve the gnoccho frito hot with slices of country ham and a splash of balsamic vinegar
Recipe BySantiago Guzzetti of Ilda in Sylva, North Carolina