A snack food for the masses in much of southern Italy, mozzarella in carrozza is traditionally made with leftovers – dried slices of bread; yesterday’s mozzarella; the ever-present bowl of breadcrumbs that makes a cameo in nearly every dish in cucina povera, the food of Italy that speaks so dearly to me in its no-waste economy and elevation of simple ingredients. As a young cook in New York City, my post-shift, late-night appetite was often satiated at the (now-defunct) Lower East Side institution ’inoteca. My order would ALWAYS include their version of this southern Italian classic. I’ve decided to revisit that memory with our own version at Flor, with the cheeky addition of incredibly delicious ’nduja.
Photography: Liz Seabrook
300g plain flour
250g ball of high-quality buffalo mozzarella
splash of milk, plus extra to brush
4 slices of stale bread (at Flor, we would use a housemade milk bread)
300g fine breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs
’nduja (I suggest purchasing it from my friend Giuseppe at De Calabria in Borough Market)
drizzle of honey
sprinkle of dried Sicilian oregano
vegetable or sunflower oil, to deep-fry
8 good-quality anchovies
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Slice your mozzarella into 1cm planks and carefully dab them between sturdy paper towels to remove excess moisture.
Arrange 2 slices of the bread face up and, using a butter knife, spread a thin layer of ’nduja onto each slice. Follow with a generous drizzle of and a sprinkle of oregano on each. Trim your mozzarella to fit within 3⁄4cm of the bread’s perimeter and lay it flat onto the slices. Season with sea salt.
Carefully layer the second pieces of bread on top of each slice. Use a pastry brush dipped in milk to moisten the perimeter of the top slice of bread – this will help with adhesion. Using your palm, carefully and evenly apply pressure to try to create a ‘seal’ around the mozzarella. With a serrated knife, trim the crusts from the sandwich.
Apply pressure once more to ensure a closed edge. Prepare to bread the sandwiches. In three separate bowls, place the flour (seasoned with salt and pepper); the eggs, lightly whisked with the splash of milk; and the breadcrumbs. Take honey a sandwich and coat it completely (both sides and four edges) with plain flour. Next, moisten entirely with the egg mixture – no dry spots should remain. Finally, coat it well in the breadcrumbs.
Fill a large, deep pot with a few inches of oil and heat to 200°C. Drop the sandwich into the oil and fry for 2–3 minutes on each side, until golden. Repeat the breading and frying process with the other sandwich, then plate up and drape over the anchovies. These sandwiches are best savoured hot, when the cheese pulls in the prized ‘al telefono’ fashion.
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