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Mozzarella in Carrozza

For food lovers, Hanukkah is an eight-day period in which to justify that guilty pleasure, deep-fried food. Latkes and sufganiyot (jelly donuts) might be the most traditional Hanukkah fare, but they are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things improved by a hot oil bath.

The reason we eat fried foods on Hanukkah is well-known, if not entirely logical. Because a one-day supply of oil kept the menorah in the Temple lit for eight full days, we have the tradition of consuming as much oil as we can, in remembrance of the miracle. So let’s fry some stuff, shall we?

Armed with a legitimate excuse to deep-fry, I took to the kitchen in search of the perfect recipe for one of my favorite weekend lunches, Mozzarella in Carrozza. In Carrozza is Italian for “in a carriage.” The name is apropos: fresh mozzarella cheese is sandwiched between slices of white bread and cradled in a cloak of flour and egg, then fried golden-crisp in a bath of butter and olive oil. After a turn over the heat, the mozzarella melts, the bread crisps up, and the sandwich becomes the sort of thing you must eat, immediately, and possibly a few times in a row.

After making a straightforward version of this sandwich a few times, I decided to change it up. Inspired by a recipe for salt and pepper French toast on Food52, I’ve taken the sandwich in a more overtly savory direction, adding cilantro, chives, scallions, and sriracha to the egg batter. The result is plenty spicy, and the herbs bring freshness and levity to an otherwise indulgent dish. The original is good, but this version is downright addictive.

So if you’ve had your fill of latkes and your looking for something else to dunk in an oil bath, take a swing at Mozzarella in Carrozza. Let Chanukah be your excuse.

Mozzarella in Carrozza
Serves 2

6 slices white bread, crusts removed
1 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced
1/2 cup whole milk
3 Tablespoons flour
1 egg, beaten
1 scallion, chopped
5 chives, chopped
1 sprig cilantro, chopped
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon sriracha

Dipping Sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon sriracha

Lay 3 slices of bread on a cutting board or work space. Distribute mozzarella slices on the bread. Top each with another slice, and crimp or pinch the edges of the two slices together to form a pouch around the cheese. You should have three sandwiches.

Put milk in one bowl, flour in a second bowl, and beaten egg, herbs, and sriracha in a third bowl. Add salt and pepper to the egg mixture.

Dunk both sides of each sandwich in the milk, then in the flour, and finally, in the egg. Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tablespoon of butter and 1/2 tablespoon oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. When butter starts to sizzle, place one sandwich in the pan. (If your pan is large enough to hold two at once, add twice the butter and oil, and place a second sandwich in the pan.)

After 2 minutes, check the underside of the sandwich. When it is golden brown, flip and cook the other side another 2-3 minutes, until golden. Repeat with remaining sandwiches.

Meanwhile, make dipping sauce by combining 2 tablespoons ketchup with 1 teaspoon sriracha. Serve sandwiches as soon as they’re ready, with dipping sauce on the side.

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  • Molly Parr December 1, 2010,

    This sounds great! And bonus points for doing a dairy Chanukah dish. There’s actually an obscure tradition of eating dairy during the 8 days: Brave Judith invited the Greek general back to her tent and fed him salty cheese. He got thirsty, she gave him a big jug of wine, he drank it all and passed out. Judith cut off his head and they paraded it around the camp. As a result of her dairy bravery, we’re supposed to enjoy dairy on this holiday, too. No, really, I am totally not making this up. 🙂

    • rivka December 1, 2010,

      Molly, you’re right, and I’m so glad you weren’t as shy as I was in sharing the historical rationale for eating not only fried things, but fried dairy things. What could be better? 🙂

  • dena December 1, 2010,

    Sounds sooo yummy! But my family doesn’t like grilled cheese, no matter which cheese or bread I use. 🙁
    No, wait, I could make this for ME and take leftovers (yeah what’s a leftover!) to work. Nom, nom, nom!

  • Matt December 1, 2010,

    Wow. That looks delicious.

  • Liz the Chef December 1, 2010,

    This looks too good not to try… Happy Hannukah!

  • LukePF December 2, 2010,

    Oh my, this looks ridiculously good… if only I ate the fried or the dairy. Sigh. But hooray for context! I felt super culturally aware yesterday when I espied a nice Jewish family getting donuts at the Krispie Kreme and was all, “Ahhh, sufganiyot for Hanukkah”. 🙂

  • MrsWheelbarrow December 2, 2010,

    I love this technique for your ‘carrozza.’ And nice dipping sauce! In the past, I’ve made a dipping sauce of butter, anchovy and parsley. I tell you this, in the spirit of Hanukkah!, because I know how you feel about anchovies. All the best, Cathy

    • rivka December 2, 2010,

      yes, yes you do. 🙂