Mozzarella in Carrozza (Italian Fried Mozzarella Sandwich) is a melty mozzarella nestled between two slices of bread that are first dipped in milk, then in flour and beaten eggs and finally deep fried until golden and crispy. Kind of the Italian version of a grilled cheese sandwich.
I love street food and if it is deep fried, even better. I know, I always talk about eating healthy and foods that are good for you, but I also like to indulge in something less beneficial for your health and more for your happiness, once in a while. Mozzarella in carrozza is my kind of “comfort food” back home, the kind of food you eat with your hands, licking your fingertips after, in company with friends or family, outside in the open air, underneath a deep blue sky, among chats and good laughs.
Mozzarella in carrozza, that can roughly be translated as “Mozzarella in a carriage”, is yet another recipe that seems to have originated in Naples, although it is widely enjoyed throughout Italy and found its way and spread out there, in some other parts of the world. Many are the Neapolitan recipes I love and tried to recreate, like this one, or this other one; recipes that are particularly tasty, simple, and that use few ingredients.
During our Italian vacation, last September, Loreto and I took a train from Rome, and after 1 hour and a half we arrived in Naples. It was a gorgeous day, sunny and warm and we spent the whole day walking, and eating. We actually didn’t sit down in a proper restaurant but ate standing or walking, eating the most delicious “street food” ever: pizza a portafoglio (pizza margherita folded in 4), crocchè (potato croquette), “cuoppo”, which is a “cartoccio” (paper cone) filled with deep fried deliciousness, including fried mozzarella, fried pasta, arancini. Not mentioning some of the best sweets you could ever eat: gelato, sfogliatella and babà, accompanied by a strong and “short” espresso, while listening and watching the charismatic nature of this culture do its thing.
Let’s make Mozzarella in Carrozza. It’s pretty easy.
The main ingredients for this Mozzarella in carrozza are: mozzarella (fiordilatte), rustic bread, milk, flour, eggs, and the olive oil you’re going to fry your “mozzarella sandwich” with. As usual, being few ingredients, means that they have to be he right ones: a one or two day old rustic, country loaf of bread, sliced and round would work better than a white sliced bread which might just crumble when dipped into the milk. The eggs, of course, organic, from chickens allowed to run free; the fiordilatte, good quality, soft creamy in a brine, not the hard, packaged one.
Loreto and I we worked in an assembly line fashion, as to build the perfect sandwich and immediately fry it until golden. It went something like that: I assembled the sandwich, dipped it in milk and passed it to Loreto who sealed it in flour, then dipped it in the eggs and moved to the frying pan where he finished the task beautifully, keeping the sandwich intact and frying it to a golden perfection. You can cut the bread in triangles, rectangles, there is no fixed rule, here. I liked the round cut, because that is how I mostly had it, and even though you end up with some bread leftover (crust and surrounding areas), we cubed it and toasted it, perfect to use for breadcrumbs or croutons. Waste not, want not, our favorite motto, and the passion of working together, putting just a bit more flavor into this wonderful appetizer.
We enjoyed the Mozzarella in Carrozza for supper, on a week night, and I made a marinara sauce to go with it. I had some roma tomatoes, the last from my in-laws’ garden, which I blanched in hot boiling water, then strained with a “passapomodoro” (tomato milling machine), and cooked in e.v.o. oil, garlic, a pinch of chili flakes, salt and pepper and lots of oregano until the tomato puree turned into a nice and thick sauce. It was so good it was trying to steal the show to the mozzarella! But we are equal opportunity people so a balance was struck.
The crust of this appetizer beautiful, crispy, flavorful. Then you hit the milk moistened bread offering a soft foundation for he next phase of tasting. The gooey melted mozzarella with its silky creaminess playing beautifully with your taste buds and tongue, especially when you dip it into that ever so rich oregano and garlic infused marinara sauce, adding a kick of acidity to the mildness of the cheese and crispy coating of the crust holding everything together. Loreto was cleaning the saucepan with his Mozzarella in Carrozza telling me that he thoroughly enjoyed this Neapolitan appetizer.
Planning a party or just wanting to have an appetizer family night? This Mozzarella in Carrozza, is a perfect addition to any line up of appetizers in a finger food feast.
Song of the day: “Uprising” by Muse.
- 8 slices rustic bread or sliced Italian bread, crust removed
- 1 medium mozzarella, sliced 1 cm thick
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup flour
- salt and pepper
- e.vo. oil for frying (or sunflower, or peanut oil)
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups tomato puree (stewed tomatoes, canned or fresh)
- 1 clove garlic, crushed slightly
- 1 Tbsp oregano
- pinch of salt and pepper
- pinch of chili flakes
- Cut bread into 2 cm slices and with a biscuit cutter cut 8 rounds. Set the borders aside to make cubed breadcrumbs with.
- Cut the mozzarella into 1 cm thick rounds to fit onto the bread slices making sure to leave a little margin around the edges.
- Pour the milk into one soup bowl, the flour into another, and beat the eggs with salt and pepper in another.
- Warm the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.
- Dunk the sandwiches briefly, one by one, in the milk, then dredge in the flour, then dip in the beaten egg.
- Fry in hot oil on each side till crispy and golden and remove to kitchen towel.
- Peel the garlic and crush it slightly.
- In a frying pan over medium heat 2 tablespoons of e.v.o. oil. Add the crushed garlic and when it turns golden take it out.
- Stir in the tomato puree and let infuse in the oil for few minutes.
- Add the oregano, the pinch of chili flakes and adjust with salt and pepper.
- Partially cover the pan to allow the steam to escape, and let the sauce cook for about twenty minutes, over medium low heat, stirring once in a while, until sauce thickens.
- Serve with mozzarella in carrozza and enjoy!