From: Chef Myles Anton, Trattoria Stella, Traverse City, MI. Yield: 4 servings.
1 qt. shortening
1 large ovaline ball fresh BelGioioso mozzarella
4 large basil leaves
4-8 slices thin-shaved Prosciutto de Parma
½ cup all-purpose flour
Batter (Recipe by cook Bret Phillips of Trattoria Stella):
1 lb. all-purpose flour
½ cup soda water
1 qt. water
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. kosher salt
Smoked Tomato Sauce “Smoker” (yields 4 servings):
2 large vine-ripe tomatoes
½ cup water
as needed, butter (optional)
to taste, salt and pepper
Heat fryer shortening in deep saucepan to 350°F. Leave at least half of pot clear of oil. Combine batter ingredients; set aside. Quarter mozzarella ball, place basil leaf on each quarter and wrap each package with Prosciutto di Parma. (Do not substitute another ham — Prosciutto naturally sticks together and will not come undone when frying.) Oil will expand when “carts” are added. Lightly dredge mozzarella packages in flour, dip in batter, and place gently in hot oil. Cook until light golden-brown. Let rest for a minute. Serve with “smoker,” marinara or tomato sauce of choice.
For “smoker”: In smoking device over wood chips, hot-smoke tomatoes for 3-4 minutes (light) or 10 minutes (heavy). Place tomatoes into saucepan and add water; stew at low heat for ½ hour. Puree tomatoes and liquid, adding a dab of butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.