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Chef Walter’s Flavors + Knowledge: Spicy Ricotta Over Friselle

Wednesday, September 06, 2017


These hard-baked rusks are a staple in all alimentary repertoires in the Puglia region. Originally seen as a long-keeping bread to be softened by dipping it in water, they are now enjoyed as a crunchy snack or, as here, are briefly soaked, and filled with a variety of savory fillings. This preparation seems a little bit long, but once you’ve mastered, you’ll find it to be rewarding and delicious.

Make 16

Ingredients for the friselle

For the biga (starter dough)

1 1/2 cups warm water

1 tsp dry yeast

1 1/2 cups (225g) unbleached plain flour

First rise

To the biga dough, add:

2 cups whole meal flour

1 cup durum flour (Italian 00 type) available in specialty stores

1 cup warm water

Stir well. Cover, leave 3 hours or longer till well-risen

Second rise

To the first-rise dough, add:

1 cup durum flour (Italian 00 type)

1 cup unbleached flour

2 tsp salt

1 cup warm water

Directions for the biga (starter dough)

Sprinkle yeast over water. Leave till dissolved. Stir in flour. Mix well with a spoon. Cover and leave 2 hours (or longer).

First rise

To the biga dough, add: 2 cups whole meal flour, 1 cup durum flour, 1 cup warm water. Stir well. Cover, leave 3 hours or longer till well-risen.

Second rise

To the first-rise dough, add: 1 cup durum flour, 1 cup unbleached flour, 2 tsp salt, 1 cup warm water. Stir well, knead and leave, covered, to double. At least 2 hours.

To shape

Divide dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a long sausage shape. Divide each sausage into 4. Roll each piece into a thinner sausage and shape into a ring, pressing the edges together. Cover with a dry cloth and leave to prove for half an hour. Preheat oven to 230C. Place some ice cubes in a bowl of water. Dip each risen ring into the iced water and transfer quickly to a baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower heat to 180C for a further 30 minutes. When cool, split open, reduce oven to 120C and dry the breads for 30 minutes (or an hour if you want especially long-keeping rusks).

For the soaking bath

Dip each bread piece into the bath for 1-2 minutes until crumb is very soft but the roll itself still has shape and the base is still crusty. Fill with your favorite savory mixture. Special note: I only dried out 3-4 of the bread rolls and froze the rest after the initial baking to be thawed and used as fresh bread later. This is an especially delicious bread recipe and the rolls have a great crust.

Ingredients for the spicy ricotta

3 ounces pancetta diced

1 celery stalk, sliced

12 pitted Kalamata olives, or any of your favorites

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves minced

1 teaspoon minced marjoram

12 ounces fresh ricotta or attempt to make your own

Salt and black pepper to taste

2 red chili peppers, whole

2 cups baby lettuce, washed and dried

Directions for making the spicy ricotta

Saute’ the pancetta, celery, and olives in the olive oil for 5 minutes, until the pancetta is crispy and most of the fat rendered. Remove to a plate. Add the garlic and marjoram; cook for 1 minute. Stir in the ricotta, salt, pepper, and chili pepper; blend for 1 minute. Top the friselle with the ricotta and pancetta mixture; garnish with the lettuce and serve immediately.


Master Chef Walter Potenza is the owner of Potenza Ristorante in Cranston, Chef Walters Cooking School and Chef Walters Fine Foods. His fields of expertise include Italian Regional Cooking, Historical Cooking from the Roman Empire to the Unification of Italy, Sephardic Jewish Italian Cooking, Terracotta Cooking, Diabetes and Celiac. Recipient of National and International accolades, awarded by the Italian Government as Ambassador of Italian Gastronomy in the World. Currently on ABC6 with Cooking Show “Eat Well."  Check out the Chef's website and blog


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