Chick Pea Fritters, a popular tasty street food
Similar to the southern French panisse, this Sicilian chickpea fritter is crispy, savory, and simple to make. It is a popular street food, but this tasty snack also works well on a lunch or dinner plate. Panelle is made from a basic mixture of water and chickpea flour cooked into a thick porridge (like polenta), and then cooled until firm, cut into pieces, and fried in olive oil. The initial cooking requires quite a bit of stirring, but you can make it ahead of time and fry it just before serving. Serve as is or top the warm fritters with coarse sea salt, freshly ground pepper, lemon juice, grated hard cheese, or herbs like parsley and rosemary. It makes an addictive appetizer, sandwich filling, or accompaniment to dinner.
4 cups water
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the baking sheet and for frying
1/2 pound (about 2 ¼ cups) chickpea (garbanzo) flour
½ cup parsley, chopped (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil for frying
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pour 4 cups water, the salt, and the olive oil into the saucepan, and gradually whisk in the chickpea flour until smooth. Add parsley if using. Set over medium heat, and whisk constantly as the batter slowly heats. It will thicken and eventually steam but does not need to boil. Cook and keep whisking, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan frequently, until the mixture is quite stiff and starts to pull away from the sides as you stir it, 15 to 20 minutes.
Working quickly in batches, with a rubber spatula, spread ½ cup of the mixture into a 9” diameter circle, ¼ inch thick, on parchment paper or foil. Keep the remaining mixture warm so that the dough remains spreadable.
Let dough disks sit until cool, 15-20 minutes. When the dough disks are cool, peel off the paper, stack together, and cut stack with a sharp knife into 6 or 8 wedges.
Another way to form the panelle is to fill an empty tin can with the bottom removed with the mixture and let it cool. Push the mixture out with your hand. Slice the dough into ¼ inch thick rounds.
To fry the fritters, pour enough extra-virgin olive oil into a heavy skillet to cover the bottom with 1/2 inch of oil, and set over medium heat. When the oil is hot (375º F), in batches lay in the fritters, leaving plenty of space between them. Fry about 3 minutes, until the underside is crisp and golden, then flip them over and brown the second side, about 2 minutes more. Set the fritters on paper towels to drain. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.