Let’s Cook Italian: Beyond Pasta, Olive Ascolane Recipe from Le Marche

Ascoli-style olives (“olive ascolane”) are the typical product that characterizes the city of Ascoli Piceno and, more generally, the entire Marche Region. They are pitted green olives stuffed with meat,then breaded for deep-frying. Preparing them is challenging, but with good dexterity and quality raw materials you will succeed. How to do? Following our recipe.

What are the basic ingredients of Oliva Ascolana del Piceno PDO Ripiena

Obviously the olives! The main ingredient is in fact the Oliva Ascolana del Piceno PDO in brine, which is produced following a precise specification in 88 municipalities between the provinces of Ascoli Piceno, Fermo and Teramo. An area spread over two regions: Le Marche and Abruzzo. Among the other fundamental ingredients are: beef and pork meat, Parmigiano Reggiano DOP aged 36 months, eggs, flour and breadcrumbs for the breading. Below, we report the recipe, the quantities and the steps for producing about 100 olives.

How the Ascolana olives are prepared

Ingredients for 12 people (about 100 olives):

1- 900 grams of Ascolana del Piceno PDO olives in whole brine (about 100 large olives) from the PDO area. In alternative, you can use “Nocellara del Belice DOP” or any table olive in brine, if big enough.
2-280g of beef  without nerves
3 – 280g of pork without nerves
4- 60g of grated Parmigiano Reggiano PDO aged 36 months
5- 50g of carrots
6- 50g of onion
7- 25g of celery
8- Extra virgin olive oil
9- 1 glass of white wine
10- 6 fresh eggs
11- 100g soft wheat flour
12- 200g of breadcrumbs (not everything will stick together, but you need some for the base)
13- nutmeg to taste
14- salt to taste
15- pepper to taste
16- a few sprigs of wild fennel

For the stuffing:

Chop the vegetables into cubes and fry them in extra virgin oil until the onion is golden. Add the beef first and then the pork and let it brown until overcooked (not burnt!). Towards the end of cooking, add the white wine to deglaze, salt and pepper. After cooking, let the meat cool in the blast chiller at a temperature between 0-4 ° C (where possible). This process can take a long time. Meanwhile, start pitting the olives. When the meat has cooled it must be minced, adding 1 egg, all the grated Parmigiano Reggiano DOP and a sprinkling of nutmeg.

How to stone the olives:

The olives must be rigorously pitted in a “verdenella” (spiral) manner, just as one would peel a whole apple. It is important to slide the knife blade on the olive stone. Prepare a container with plenty of unsalted water. Add a few sprigs of wild fennel and soak the olives once the stones are removed. This process will allow the olive to rapidly desalt and, at the same time, have a very pleasant flavoring. For 100 olives it will take about 30 minutes. Important: taste the olives to check if they have reached the right degree of salt before letting them drain and prepare for the filling.

Filling, breading and frying:

Take small quantities of the filling and prepare some tiny meat balls. Wrap the pitted olive in a spiral to the meat. Prepare 3 bowls, one for the flour, one for the remaining eggs and one for the breadcrumbs. Beat the eggs well without whipping them. Lightly flour the stuffed olives. Dip them in the egg until they are evenly covered; with a large mesh strainer, recover them and, after having drained them well, place them in the breadcrumbs.
The Ascolana del Piceno PDO olive is ready to fry!