PIDONI FRITTI ALLA MESSINESE. The Pitoni or Pidoni are parcels of a pizza-like dough, stuffed with curly endive, mozzarella and a tiny bit of anchovy. Not dissimilar to calzoni but fried, they are a typical and most appreciated dish from Messina. In Sicily, you can find them in the friggitorie, the Italian equivalent of fish and chips shops.
The dough it’s made with more fat than regular pizza, so it becomes deliciously flaky once is fried.
I know, I know what you’re thinking. “I can’t fry”. The pidoni in the picture are actually baked and fabulous. However if you can, do fry them please. Just once, you won’t regret it.
For this recipe you need a summer evening, a bunch of friends and family, kids running around in the garden, plenty cold drinks and a huge bucket of fruit salad as a dessert. They are filling so it’s a one dish dinner. It’s party food, make it once and I promise, they’ll want it forever.
For the dough:
- 400 gr (3 cups) Italian 00 or pastry flour
- 200 gr ( 2 cups) Manitoba or strong bread flour
- 300 ml (1 and 1/3 cup) water
- 1 gr ( 1/4 teaspoon) active dry yeast
- 40 gr (6 tablespoons) olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the filling:
- 500 gr (1 lb, about 2 bunches) curly endive which is also named chicory or frisee
- 600 gr /18 oz diced canned tomato
- 400 gr (14 oz) fresh mozzarella
- 6-8 anchovy fillets
- salt and black pepper to taste
- vegetable oil for deep frying
Schedule and method:
- Twenty-four hours before you need it, make the dough using my instructions for slow focaccia. Basically, you need to mix the dough ingredients, oil the dough, cover it and let it raise in a draft-free area. About half way the proving period knead it briefly to knock off the gas and cover again.
- A couple of hours before dinner, make the filling. Wash the curly endive thoroughly and chop it finely. I pulse it in a food processor. Mix the chopped salad with the tomatoes, salt lightly and transfer in a colander for at least one hour. It’s important to remove as much liquid as possible from the vegetable mixture so squeeze it in a cotton towel if necessary. Transfer to a bowl, add one tablespoon olive oil and season the filling with a sprinkle of black pepper.
- One hour before dinner, divide the risen dough into 16 equal pieces. Roll each into a ball. Place each ball on a lightly floured work surface and roll out into a thin disk of about 20 cm ( 8 inches) in diameter.
- Now assemble the pidoni. You’ll need to work fast so they don’t fall apart. Divide the filling among the 16 disks leaving a 2.5cm ( 1 inch) margin around the edge. Place 1 slice of mozzarella and 1/2 anchovy fillet broken in 2-3 pieces over the filling and fold the disk of dough to form a small calzone.
- It’s time to cook them. Preheat the oil in a deep saucepan, until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns golden in about 25 seconds. Seal the edges of the pidoni with a fork, drop them carefully into the hot oil and fry for 3-4 minutes per batch until golden. Drain on kitchen towel and set aside while you continue making the next batch. Continue until all are finished and serve.
If you decide to bake them, brush the pidoni with olive oil on both sides, place them on an oven tray lined with parchment paper and bake them in a very hot oven until golden, 15- 20 min.