Source of Recipe
John Terranova/Eagle Tribune
Crispy crowd pleaser
My Nonnas (Grandmothers) made these when I was little. I miss them so much!! They had to make a special batch of plain ones without anchovies especially for me. :o)
I have attended the Feast of the Three Saints in Lawrence, MA. IT IS UNBELIEVABLE!! The Italian food is out of this world!! My kids always bring me yummy crispellis from the Italian Kitchen. That city has the best Italian markets, restaurants and bakeries. I'm so lucky because its only 15 minutes away from my home
By Yadira A. Betances Eagle-Tribune Writer
When John Terranova of Methuen was small, his parents would buy crispellis Friday or Saturday as a special treat. It is a tradition the family has continued for many years. This weekend, the Sicillians' take on fried dough wrapped around anchovies, cheese or simply eaten plain will be the undisputed must-eat at the Feast of the Three Saints in Lawrence."They're delicious. It's something I've enjoyed eating all of my life," Mr. Terranova said as he purchased them for his mother, Josephine, also of Methuen. "They are high-class fried dough."Preparing their famous crispellis for the feast are Peter and Ruth Messina of The Italian Kitchen on Common Street in Lawrence. They have been up to their elbows mixing flour, ricotta cheese and anchovies for the delicacy that thousands of people will line up to buy for 60 cents each or $7 a dozen.To tell the three traditional types apart, look at the shape, said Mr. Messina. The ones made with anchovies are elongated. The cheese type is round. Plain ones look like doughnuts."If you forget which one is which, just take a bite," he said.Mr. Messina has been making crispellis since he was 13 years old. He learned from his father, Mauro, who now lives in Italy. The Italian Kitchen has been in business 40 years. Mr. Messina said crispellis originated in Sicily. When women made bread on Saturday, they would get a piece of dough, place anchovies in the middle and fry them. Mr. Messina was born in Viagrande, a province of Catania, Italy, and came to the United States in 1955. He said there are many secrets to his crispellis. One of them is knowing how to mix the dough. He and his wife of 32 years, Ruth, who helps him in the kitchen, mix it with their hands. Another secret is using two Fryalators -- with a 40-degree difference between the two so one can expand the crispellis and the other can brown them.As for the nutritional value, Mr. Messina uses soybean oil, which has no cholesterol and no animal fat. Flour has carbohydrates and the anchovies contain calcium.Mr. Messina uses only King Arthur unbleached flour. He buys the anchovies from Argentina, which come in similar sizes to the crispellis. The ricotta cheese is made in Boston especially for The Italian Kitchen. It contains unpasteurized milk boiled to 180 degrees and drained.
The secret recipe
Many have tried and failed to replicate the unique taste of the crispelli in their own kitchen. Although it would be impossible to replicate that favorite taste, The Italian Kitchen has revealed for the first time the recipe for their crispellis.
2 cups very warm water
1 pound flour (or more to achieve desired consistency)
1 ounce yeast
1 ounce salt
1/2 ounce sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking power
1 can anchovies (Ugh! I eat them plain)
2 cups oil, or enough to fry in a skillet or sauce pan.
Mix above ingredients except for the oil.
After the dough is made, let it rise for at least 45 minutes. You will have a very sticky dough that is hard to work with. For plain crispellis, you can scoop ping-pong ball sized dollops into hot oil.
For anchovy crispellis, take a handful of dough. Using lots of flour makes the job easier. Place an anchovy or two in the middle, wrap it in the dough to form a ball. Carefully drop into oil. You should have enough in the pan for the dough to float. Fry one side and then the other for a few minutes until they are a golden brown. Do not burn the oil. For a sweet touch, sprinkle the plain crispellis with some confectionary sugar.
Yields about 1 dozen.