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Posted on Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 8 a.m.

Provolone Fritto con Marinara is the perfect crispy, gooey dish to celebrate Chanukkah

By Mary Bilyeu


Mary Bilyeu, Contributor

Tonight is the second night of Chanukkah, and I could have happily served latkes (potato pancakes) — I adore them! But I wanted something different, something that celebrates both culinary traditions for this holiday: the oil and the dairy.

Most people, if they know anything about Chanukkah, think of it as a festival of fried foods comemmorating the miracle of one day's worth of oil having burned for eight days.

But there is also the story of Judith feeding generous quantities of cheese to the captain of the enemy's army, to make him thirsty and encourage him to drink himself into a stupor. Once he fell asleep (or, rather, passed out), she cut off his head. The leaderless troops then retreated, and the Jews were ultimately able to rededicate the Temple with the miraculous oil that burned brightly for seven extra days.

So I decided to fry some cheese in a bit of oil, thus doubling the celebration!

I dare to announce that this dish — Provolone Fritto [proh-voh-LOH-nay FREE-toh], topped with a marinara sauce — may even be more delicious than latkes! I know that's a radical statement to be making; but try this and see. It's crispy, it's gooey, it's flavorful... truly, it's a fabulous dish!

Provolone Fritto con Marinara

1/3 cup flour
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 eggs
1 tablespoon pesto
1 cup dried bread crumbs
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 8-ounce package sliced smoked Provolone (10 slices)
marinara sauce, heated
Parmesan cheese, for serving

Place the flour into a flat bowl (i.e. a cereal bowl) and stir in 1 teaspoon of the salt along with the pepper.

Place the eggs into a flat bowl (i.e. a cereal bowl) and mix in the pesto with a fork.

Place the bread crumbs, the Italian seasoning and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt onto a plate; combine well.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. One by one, dredge the slices of Provolone first in the flour, then in the eggs. Place them into the bread crumb mixture and make sure they're well coated.

Place 3-4 breaded slices into the skillet and cook for 3 minutes until the edges are turning golden and the cheese starts to puff a bit. Flip the cheese over.

Cook for another 2-3 minutes until both sides of the cheese are golden and crisp.

Continue frying the cheese until all of the ingredients are used up. Place onto a serving platter, top with marinara sauce and Parmesan.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

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Mary Bilyeu has won or placed in more than 60 cooking contests and writes about her adventures in the kitchen. She was thrilled to have her post about Scottish Oatmeal Shortbread named as one of the daily "Best of the Blogs" by the prestigious Food News Journal.

Go visit Mary's blog — Food Floozie — on which she enthuses and effuses over all things food-related. Feel free to email her with questions or comments or suggestions:

The phrase "You Should Only Be Happy" (written in Hebrew on the stone pictured in this post) comes from Deuteronomy 16:15 and is a wish for all her readers as they cook along with her ... may you always be happy here.