Deep-fried Swiss Chard Stems with Fontina Cheese

From Giorgio Locatelli, crumb-coated chard stems with delicious melted cheese on a salad of tender chard leaves and stems
By Giorgio Locatelli
Deep-fried Swiss Chard Stems with Fontina Cheese
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 2
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Prep Time: 50 minutes
  • Effort: hard

Ingredients

main

  • 4 large Swiss chard, separated into leaves, stems kept on with stems
  • 4 thin slices fontina cheese, rind removed
  • 75 g plain flour
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 125-150g fine breadcrumbs
  • groundnut oil, for deep-frying
  • 4 tbsp finely grated parmesan
  • bunch chives, cut into 2cm lengths
  • black pepper

For the vinaigrette:

  • 2 banana shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • black pepper

Method

1. First prepare the vinaigrette. Mix the shallots with the vinegar in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, then whisk in the olive oil.

2. Prepare the chard by slicing off the stems at the point where they meet the base of the leaf. Then cut round the upper section of the stem to remove the leaf.

3. Slice the upper stems into thin strips about 1cm wide and 5-7cm long. Trim the ends of the lower stems.

4. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Blanch the chard leaves and all the stems, including the thin strips, for a minute or two until 'al dente'. Drain well. Put the thin strips and the leaves in separate bowls and set aside.

5. Next prepare a chard 'sandwich'. Using a very sharp thin knife, carefully slice through the thickness of one of the lower stem along its entire length, so you end up with two pieces that are mirror images of each other.

6. Place the two pieces on a board, cut side up. Season with salt and pepper.

7. Trim a slice of fontina so that it is slightly smaller than the chard stem. Place the cheese on one of the pieces of stem, then place the other piece on top.

8. Repeat with the three remaining stems, to make four sandwiches.

9. Dip the sandwiches in the flour, then in the beaten egg, and finally in the breadcrumbs making sure they are well covered. Dip into the egg and breadcrumbs twice more, so they are thickly coated.

10. Heat the groundnut oil in a deep-fryer or saucepan to 170-180°C (or when a cube of bread turns golden brown in 1 minute). Add the chard sandwiches and deep-fry for 2-4 minutes until golden brown.

10. Remove from the fryer and drain on paper towels. Season with salt.

11. Meanwhile, season the reserved strips of stem and the leaves with salt and pepper. Toss with some of the vinaigrette. Then toss the strips with half the Parmesan and some of the chives.

12. Arrange the leaves on two plates with the strips in the middle. Place the fried stems on top and drizzle with some more vinaigrette. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and chives. Serve warm.

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