Simple Italian Cookery, by Antonia Isola


Fried Sweetbreads, Croquettes, Liver, Etc. (Fritto Misto alla Romana)

Golden Bread, Brains, Sweetbreads, Croquettes of Chicken and Veal and Eggs, Calf’s Liver and Pumpkin — all these different ingredients should be fried each in its own manner as follows, a small quantity of each, and served all together on one platter with slices of lemon.

Golden Bread

Choose bread which is elastic, but has no holes in it. Remove the crust and cut it in slices about one inch thick, and from these slices cut little pieces about three inches long and about one inch wide. Trim them off well, so they will not be ragged or uneven. Put these pieces into a bowl and throw on them some boiling water, then remove them immediately and throw them into a big bowl of cold water. This operation should be done quickly, so as to make the bread feel the impression of heat and cold, one directly after the other. Then take the bread between the hands and gently squeeze out the water without breaking the pieces or deforming them. Place them on a napkin to dry. Then dip them in egg which has been beaten up and seasoned with salt and pepper. Allow the egg to soak well into the bread. Fifteen minutes before serving put a frying-pan on with a quantity of lard, and as soon as the lard is lukewarm put in the pieces of bread, turn them as soon as they harden a little on one side. The bread must fry very slowly, and should remain on the fire at least ten minutes, so that the heat can penetrate gradually into the middle and make it light. This bread to be successful should be hollow inside like a fritter when finished. When the bread has taken a good golden color, remove from the lard, drain it on a napkin, add a little salt, and serve very hot.


Parboil the sweetbreads, then cook them with one tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of stock. When cooked cut them into smallish pieces, season with pepper, chopped-up parsley, and one tablespoon of lemon, then roll them in flour; dip into egg and fry.

Fried Brains

Take one lamb’s brain, or one-half of a calf’s brain, put it in a saucepan with cold water, change the water from time to time for a couple of hours, until the brains are thoroughly cleansed. Then put them in another saucepan with fresh water, and with several pieces of onion, a little salt, a little vinegar (one tablespoon to each brain), and some parsley stems. As soon as the water boils, take the saucepan off, remove the brains, and put them onto a napkin. Cut them into four pieces, put these pieces onto a plate, and season with a little olive-oil, some lemon juice, and chopped parsley. When you are ready to fry, roll in flour, dip in egg, and fry the brain over a moderate fire for seven or eight minutes in olive-oil, lard, or butter.

Calf’s Liver Fried

Remove the skin, and cut into slices large but thin, roll in flour, dip in egg, and fry in boiling lard, allowing them to remain in the frying-pan only a couple of minutes; then drain on a napkin, sprinkle on a little salt, and serve.

Polenta Croquettes

Boil one-half cup of corn-meal rather hard, and before removing from the fire add a piece of butter and a little grated cheese and mix well. Take it then by spoonfuls and let it fall onto a marble-top table, or a bread-pan which has been wet a little with cold water. These spoonfuls should form little balls about the size of a hen’s egg. On each of these croquettes place a very thin slice of Gruyere cheese, so that the cheese will adhere to the corn-meal. Then allow them to cool, and when cold dip into egg, then into bread crumbs, and fry in boiling lard.

Egg Croquettes

Hard boil two eggs, remove the shells, dry them, and cut the eggs in minute pieces. Put one tablespoon of butter into a saucepan, and when it is melted add one and one-half tablespoons of flour; stir constantly for a few moments over a slow fire with a wooden spoon, taking care that the flour does not color. Then pour in one-third of a cup of milk, in which you have put salt and pepper. Cool this sauce for eight or ten minutes, stirring continually to make it smooth, then remove from the fire, put in the chopped-up egg, some parsley chopped fine, and one-half tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese. When you have mixed these ingredients well together, spread them out on a plate or marble and allow to cool. When this has become cold and hardened, with a wooden spoon divide it into little portions about the size of a nut. Take these and roll them in dried bread crumbs and a little flour. Roll them all then, one at a time, with a rotary motion, and then elongate the balls until they are the shape of ordinary corks, then dip the croquettes into the egg, one at a time, then into bread crumbs again, and a few moments before serving fry in boiling lard. As soon as they are colored remove them immediately from the lard, otherwise they will break to pieces.

Polenta Fritters, Fried Pumpkin, Fried Squash, and Parsnips may also be added or substituted if desired.

Little Filets “Alla Napolitana”

Butter well a frying-pan, and sprinkle over the bottom a piece of lean ham (raw if possible) chopped up fine. Then a layer of mushrooms chopped fine, then a layer of minced parsley. The bottom of the pan should be entirely covered with these three ingredients. Then from a filet of beef cut some little slices, about one-half an inch thick and round in shape. Put these in the frying-pan, one piece near the other, so the bottom shall be covered. Sprinkle on salt and pepper, and put it on the fire. When the filets are cooked on one side, turn them over on the other, but with care, so the ingredients at the bottom of the pan will stick to the meat. When the filets are cooked on both sides, squeeze on the juice of half a lemon, and add a little meat stock. Put the filets on a platter, and pour over them their sauce, and serve with croutons (fried bread).

Involtini of Beef “Alla Siciliana”

Take three-quarters of a pound of beef, two ounces of ham, one tablespoon of butter (or one-half tablespoon of lard), some bread, some parsley, and a piece of onion. Chop up the onion fine and put it in a saucepan with the butter (or lard). When it is colored, put in the parsley and the ham cut up into little pieces, at the same time add the bread cut up into three or four small dice, salt, pepper, and a dash of nutmeg. Mix all together well. Cut the meat into six slices, pound them to flatten out; salt slightly, and when the other ingredients are cooked, put a portion on each slice of meat. Then roll up the meat like sausages, put them on skewers, alternating with a piece of fried bread of the same size. Butter well, roll in fresh bread crumbs, and broil on the gridiron over a slow fire. These are nice served with salad.

Polpettone “Alla Napolitana”

Take three-quarters of a pound of lean beef without skin or bones from the rump-steak, flatten it out with a knife in a manner to widen it without tearing the meat. Salt and pepper it. Then take one and one-half ounces of ham, fat and lean, and chop it up fine with a little piece of onion, some parsley, and some thyme, then add twice its volume of fresh bread crumbs (which have been dipped in water and squeezed out). When the bread has been well mixed add the yolk of one egg and mix again well, spread this mixture all over the surface of the beef, leveling it off with a knife. Then sprinkle on a few raisins, and then roll up the meat like a cigar, but bigger in the middle than at the ends. Tie it up then, crosswise and lengthwise, and brown it in a saucepan with a little lard and some ham. As soon as it colors add some chopped-up pieces of onion, celery, carrot, and one clove. When these vegetables are cooked add several pieces of tomato, and let the meat simmer for about two hours, basting it now and then. When the meat is cooked remove the string, place the polpettone on a platter, strain the sauce through a sieve, pour it over the meat, and serve.


Cut up the meat, lamb, veal, mutton, or fresh pork into pieces about two inches wide. Sprinkle on salt and pepper and put them aside. Then cut an equal number of pieces of bread about one-half inch thick, and a little bit bigger then the pieces of meat. Next cut pieces of ham, fat and lean, the same size as the pieces of meat, but double the number. Then take a skewer (or two if one is not sufficient), and put on it first a piece of bread, then a piece of ham, then a leaf of sage, then one of the pieces of meat, then another leaf of sage, then the ham, then the bread, and so on in this order, having always the meat between two leaves of sage, two slices of ham, and two pieces of bread. Coat everything well, and especially the bread, with olive-oil or melted butter, and then broil them over a hot fire for a good one-quarter of an hour, turning them constantly until they are colored a golden brown and are crisp. If preferred, these can be cooked in the oven. Put them on several wooden skewers, and lay them in a pan and cook until brown and crisp. Serve with lettuce salad.

Meat with Ribbon Macaroni

Take a piece of ham fat, one finger high and four fingers wide, chop up fine with a piece of onion, piece of celery, piece of carrot, and put into a saucepan. Take three-quarters of a pound of meat, either lamb, veal, beef, or fresh pork, cut it into several pieces, salt and pepper it, and put a pinch of allspice, then put it into the saucepan; cook it until it is well colored, then add two tablespoons of red or white wine. When it is absorbed add one tablespoon of tomato paste, dissolved in water, or tomato sauce of fresh tomatoes (receipt Tomato Sauce No. 1). Cook over a moderate fire, one hour longer if the meat is veal or lamb, and one and one-half hours to two hours for pork or beef, adding water if necessary.

This meat can be served with Ribbon Macaroni. Put the meat in the middle, the macaroni around it, and the sauce over all, adding two tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese to the macaroni after it is boiled, and mixing well before putting it on the platter. Sprinkle on a little more cheese before carrying to the table.

This dish can be made equally well with left-over meats of any kind, turkey being especially good served this way.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:56