Pasta and Cheese Fritters

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One of the eternal questions in life is "how much pasta should I make?"  If you're familiar with bistromathics,  you know that the answer is, of course, a recipriversexclusion – i.e., the answer is any othe number than the one you've chosen.

To get around this, whether or not we do the math consciously or not, we attempt to solve the following equation :

(-1((saucetypte/availablesauce*guests)+¾(pasta))*moonphase)+(teenagers2)+(whatsleftinthebox)

Which is, in itself, a non-real number, but hopefully the answer is slightly more than what is actually needed.   Hopefully.  There are a lot of variable variables, and a stupid amount of parens, so to be honest, it probably comes down to blind luck.

fritters_and-steak_sm


So, one day recently I was wrong.  Very, very, wrong.  The sauce, it was especially meaty (and filling).  The teenagers, were especially (and uncharaceristically) un-hungry.  Math and reason flew out the window together, only pausing to laugh at me on the way out.

And left me with an entire pound of pasta in the bowl.  A. Pound.  Like, an entire box worth.  And to make things worse, there wasn't enough sauce left to cobble together leftovers.  And, it's an injustice to All Things Pasta to put new sauce on old pasta.  That just simply isn't done.

There are a number of things that make life wonderful – sex, booze, rock 'n' roll, a good steak, pasta, and cheese, for starters.  Many of them can be combined to great success, and cheese generally makes everything better except maybe sex (unless you're into a nice brie in the bedroom).  Cheese and pasta tho.  They were MFEO (made for each other).

Cheese and pasta and that other Staple Of Life, fried things.  Am I right?  Let's do the thing.  This one is simple, so long as you remember to keep things cool throughout.  But, first, a side note – the photo is deceptive.  I made these as a side, but they're pretty filling, so they should probably be more the central dish for the meal.

This recipe serves about six.

First up, pasta.  A flat pasta like farfalle is pretty essential, and one to 1-1/2 pounds are the sweet spot.  It can be cut in half, but cutting the cheese (har har) can be tricky.  Leftover pasta is best, because it's hopefully been sitting in the fridge overnight, but if fresh pasta is used, let it cool to room temperature, and then refridgerate it for a while. Half-hour to an hour should suffice.  

Second, cheese.  This recipe is basically fried cheese held together by pasta, so we're going to use a bunch of cheese.  In a bowl, combine a thingy (15oz) ricotta, 1/2 cup of parmesan, and 1/2 cup mozzarella.  Yes, that should do nicely.  At the same time, season with 1/2tsp nutmeg, 1/2tsp thyme, and 1tsp basil.  (go on the heavy side with the measurements).  Smoosh all the cheese until its a sort of paste.

Next, put all the stuff together – add the pasta to the cheese and fold it in, trying to not smoosh up the pasta in the process.  Smooshy pasta just isn't fun for anyone.

Put some wax paper on a plate, and smoosh the mix into patties.  You ought to be able to get six patties on a plate, or enough for everyone.  Refrigerate the patties for at least a half an hour – the cold helps them stick together.

Right before you're ready to cook, get all the cooking stuff ready.  You need an assembly line for the breading, which consists of three bowls, and there are reasons:

First bowl, a cup or so of flour.  I like to add a little nutmeg to this for an extra kick.  
Second bowl, two beaten eggs.  This seems counter-intuitive, but the flour exists to help the eggs stick to the fried things better (this technique comes from chicken parmesan FWIW)
Third bowl, half-and-half Italian-style breadcrumbs and grated parmesan.  If you don't have Italian breadcrumbs, regular breadcrumbs (or panko) with a smattering of basil, thyme, parsley, and maybe a bit more nutmeg will work.  Parmesan isn't absolutely necessary, but more cheese is better, right?  

Then, get a heavy skillet and add 3/8-1/2 inch of olive oil.  The general idea is just over half the thickness of the fritter patties.  Set the burner on high, and wait until a few drops of water dance on the surface.  If you haven't pan-fried before, it'll be obvious.  (pro-tip:  if you're not wearing pants, right about now would be a good time to put on an apron)

Now, assembly-line the fritters through the breading line, and carefully put them into the pan.  Carefully, because the only thing that's holding them together is that pasta.  Fry until golden on one side, then flip and do the same.  We don't have to worry about cooking meat all the way through, so it's a lot easier than some dishes.

Serve with whatever and some pasta sauce.  New sauce is good, since this is no longer leftovers.  Some kind of marinara is best.

Shopping list:

  • 1 to 1-1/2 lbs cooked pasta
  • 15 oz (one thingy) ricotta
  • 1/2 cup parmesan
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella
  • two eggs
  • Italian-style breadcrumbs (or tarted up breadcrumbs/panko)
  • nutmeg
  • thyme
  • basil
  • olive oil (enough for frying)